What Good Is Studying If You’re Not Applying?
Volume IX ~ Issue XXVIII ~ April 5th, 2009
By: Brian A. Yeager
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We know that there are those who are, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (II Timothy 3:7). We can see with our own eyes that this passage applies to a lot of folks who would not think it applies to them. The question is, what about our own selves? Have you or I become the type of person who studies (Acts 17:10-11), can rightly answer questions from the Scriptures (Proverbs 22:21, II Timothy 2:15, and I Peter 3:15), but do not apply those truths ourselves (Romans 2:17-29 and Titus 1:16)?

Take into consideration for a moment the supposed Christian who always knows the answer to your Bible question. This person is well versed in the Scriptures, as all mature Christians ought to be (Hebrews 5:12-14). When asked, this person can tell you all the faults of those whom you know. This person can tell you how those in error should correct their faults. In every case, this person speaks the truth.

This strong brother or sister in Christ has picked apart those who dress immodestly (I Timothy 2:9-10). This person has stood against sins occurring among the local flock such as backbiting (II Corinthians 12:20), lying (Ephesians 4:25), division (I Corinthians 1:10), idolatry (I Corinthians 10:14), various false doctrines (Jude 3-4), and covetousness (Ephesians 5:5). This strong Christian has even stood against the preachers of the past when all others were too intimidated to do so. This strong Christian is a “pillar in the church”.

Upon close examination, one finds that this strong Christian spends vacations in places he or she has spoken against, backbites for dinner, lies for breakfast, has many idols, and covets many things. Yet, this person is the “amen” person when those subjects are preached on. This person speaks up in class about them. False doctrine isn’t the problem. This one stands for the truth. Ignorance isn’t the problem. This person taught classes on these things. So, what is the issue? NO APPLICATION!

They’re Ever Learning Yet Never Applying

I suppose I have seen too many who never seem to get it, though they know where to take you in the Bible to read it. They will speak up in a class, but they will not hear the very truth that they speak to see that it applies to them as well. We are taught in the Scriptures these points:
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:19-25).

As we read from the mind of our Lord through the pen of James (I Corinthians 2:9-15), we saw that we cannot just look into the Scriptures and walk away without applying them. Knowledge is useless if it is not applied (Proverbs 2:2; 22:17; 23:12 and II Peter 1:3-12). Think carefully here! When each of us study for our own personal growth, let’s not think about the faults of others. When we are in a class or listening to a sermon, let’s not think about whom else should be listening during those lessons. The word of God is an ineffective mirror if we never look into it ourselves. Furthermore, for us to be effective in teaching others we first have to be students who practice what we will be teaching!

Fixing Your Mess Before You Fix Others

Do you know that it is a sin to teach others to cease doing something that you yourself are wrong in doing? Notice:
“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye… Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God” (Matthew 7:1-5 and Romans 2:1-3)?

To be effective teachers in word or deed, we have to live Christ. Again, notice the clarity of the Scriptures on this point as well:
“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway… Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity… Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (I Corinthians 9:27 and I Timothy 4:12; 15-16).


Does that person who we talked about in the introduction sound a lot or a little just like you? Do you know all the answers, help others to see them, but fail to live them? If so, that has to stop. Evangelism starts by you getting it right THEN helping others. Good studying habits are necessary. Yet, if good study habits are not followed by sincere application of those things learned, the word of God is then useless in your life!