Good Bible Study Practices: Make A List!

Did you ever read a passage of scripture and get to the end of it, only to say to yourself, “I did not get anything out of that!”
This usually happens when we are just reading a passage, and fail to intentionally slow down and comprehend what we are reading.  A good practice to help you notice more in scripture is to make a list!
Why do we make lists?
To help us remember things!
Lists are encouraging too!  Be honest…I’m sure I’m not the only one who makes a list at the endof the day and then checks off all the things I accomplished.  Ahhh…I was productive today! J
Let’s try a little exercise to see how we can be more productive in our Bible study!
I use two kinds of lists when I study.  The first one is pretty obvious.  If you run across a passage of scripture in which multiple things are listed in the verse, take note!
Galatians 5:19-23 – Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envyings, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If I were studying this passage, the first thing I would do would be to “chart” these two opposing lists, paying close attention to the words used in the scripture.
Deeds of the flesh
Fruit of the Spirit
Immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envyings, drunkenness, carousing
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
Second, since these lists are used in the same passage, the teaching obviously relates.  They are not two separate ideas; Paul (the author) intentionally listed them together so we would see the contrast.  Because of this, I would look for the “opposing ideas” that he covers.
Deeds of the flesh
Fruit of the Spirit
Immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envyings, drunkenness, carousing
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
Are called “deeds” – something I do.
Are called “fruit” – something I bear, or exhibit.
Produced by the flesh.
Produced by the Spirit.
Those who practice these will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Those who practice these belong to Christ.
Passions and desires must be crucified: there’s a law against them.
No law against the fruit of the Spirit; encouraged to bear these.
Third, for this particular passage, I would see if I could find any connections between the two lists that would help me know how the Spirit overcomes the flesh.

 

Deeds of the flesh
Fruit of the Spirit
Immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envyings, drunkenness, carousing
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
Are called “deeds” – something I do.
Are called “fruit” – something I bear, or exhibit.
Produced by the flesh.
Produced by the Spirit.
Those who practice these will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Those who practice these belong to Christ.
Passions and desires must be crucified: there’s a law against them.
No law against the fruit of the Spirit; encouraged to bear these.
Immorality, impurity, sensuality
God’s love is pure and holy; I should love others with a pure love.
Sorcery (witchcraft), idolatry
God is faithful to me; I desire to be faithful to Him and avoid worshipping other gods.
Outbursts of anger
God’s Spirit allows me to be gentle and patient.
Drunkenness
God’s Spirit causes me to be self-controlled, avoiding excess.
Strife, disputes, dissensions, factions
God’s Spirit causes me to be peaceful, He makes peace between brothers and sisters.
Jealousy, envyings
God’s Spirit gives me joy and causes me to be kind to others rather than desiring what others have and resenting them.
Carousing (enjoying what is evil)
God’s Spirit causes me to desire what is good.
In making the lists, I have made myself stop and mediate, ponder, and think about this passage.  I have given God time to put His thoughts in my mind and heart.  Often He will bring another scripture to mind that gives more light to the idea or truth that I am studying.
Can you see how just stopping and making a simple list enhances and deepens your study?
The second type of list I use is basically to “bullet point” a verse.  Whatever verse or passage I am studying, I will type it out, and then proceed to bullet point underneath all the things I see in that verse.  Let’s take Galatians 6:1-2 as an example.
Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
 
·         All of us at one time or another may be caught in a trespass (sin).
·         We should desire to restore one another.
·         We are to be gentle as we restore one another.
·         We should have a sense of humility, because we may be tempted at some time too.
·         When a believer is caught in sin, it is a burden.
·         To restore one another is to bear one another’s burdens.
·         Restoration of a brother who sins fulfills the law of Christ.
Simply by pulling out the principles in the verse into a list form, we can learn much!
I hope this helps you as you continue in your study of God’s Word.
What methods do you use that you could share with us?  I would love for you to respond in the comments below so we can all learn together!

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