2 Timothy 3:16-17: The Source of Correction

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV
In the Bible we have the words of God
(2 Peter 1:20-21)
("God-breathed") written to us. Some say the best way to understand the Bible is to ask the Holy Spirit to show us its meaning. It never hurts to ask, but what most determines how well we understand the Bible is how much we are willing to do what the Bible says
(John 7:17)
. People who earnestly desire to do what the Bible says will use the resources they have available to understand the Scriptures. People can use even the best tools for interpreting the Bible to twist a Scripture's meaning to what they want it to say unless their intent is to let the clear intended meaning of the Scripture speak to them. The Holy Spirit is always speaking to Christians
(Romans 8:9-11)
, but a person unwilling to do what the Spirit says will not hear Him
(Romans 8:5-8)
.
The four words, "teaching, rebuking, correcting and training," all have the idea of correcting for the purpose of making us correct ("righteousness"). It is true that Christ's atoning death on the cross makes us right with God
(Romans 3:21-26; 8:3-4; Philippians 3:9)
, but God's Word is the standard for our lives, not to excuse what we already believe and do
(Matthew 16:21-24; Mark 8:31-34)
, but to correct what we already believe and do. No matter how much God has corrected our lives, we still need further correction
(Isaiah 64:6)
. Josiah was one of the best kings of Judah
(2 Kings 22:1-2; 2 Chronicles 34:1-2)
, and when the priest read the Book of the Law to him, he tore his robes in distress
(2 Kings 22:8-13; 2 Chronicles 34:14-21)
. What truly indicates that one understands God's standards as He revealed in the Scriptures is when one cries out to God in anguish because of the crushing demands of God's righteousness upon a sinful heart
(Luke 18:9-14)
. Isaiah was probably one of the most righteous men of his day. Yet, when God appeared to him, he was terrified by his sinfulness in contrast to God's holiness
(Isaiah 6:5)
. Will we not respond similarly when reading God's Word if we recognize God's presence in the words of the Bible.