Biblical sanctification requires the habitual putting off of the sins that so easily entangle us (Heb. 12:1). But there is another side to godliness—what we must put on, or crave. As ingrained sin habits are being cast aside, the follower of Christ must also develop the new habit of craving His Word so that he or she may do all things that Jesus commanded. Like newly born nursing babes, we need to have an intense desire for the pure, uncontaminated Word of God. Peter says that if we “long for” it, we will grow (1 Peter 2:2). Scripture is the instrumental cause of saving faith (Rom. 10:17). However, it is also the instrumental cause of our growth in godliness. Therefore, believers with a small appetite for the Scriptures experience limited growth. But those with a strong appetite for the Word and a hunger and thirst for God’s truth become growing Christians as they apply its truth to life. Job’s godly testimony was “I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12). James 1:21 urges believers, “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.”
However, in order for this ongoing sanctification to take place, we must have godly appetites. Think with me for a moment. What is your appetite for food like? Now compare that to your appetite for the Word of God. Do you treasure Scripture more than food? Do you delight in it? Jeremiah 6:10 says of the wicked, “Behold, their ears are closed and they cannot listen. Behold, the word of the Lord has become a reproach to them; they have no delight in it.” In contrast, the prophet’s personal testimony was “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jer. 15:16). In order to crave a steady diet of the Word, we need to discipline ourselves for two kinds of intake: personal and public.
Personal intake of the Word requires daily meditation and study. The blessed man is the one who rejects the counsel of the world because his habit of delighting in the law of the Lord causes him to meditate on it day and night. This results in spiritual growth and fruitfulness (Ps. 1:1–3). Peter indicates that our relationship to the Word of God is a key part of our growth “in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). This is not growing into being saved, but rather speaks of growth as the outworking of salvation that has already been received in the heart. In other words, since we have experienced God’s salvation, “tasted the kindness of God,” then we must crave the Word that will make us grow. In light of this, John Piper’s words are especially challenging: “Our approach to the Bible should be like a miser in the gold rush, or a fiancée who has lost her engagement ring somewhere in the house.” That is what our attitude toward the Scriptures ought to be like! The psalmist also understood the connection between delighting in the Word and his walk of obedience and therefore prayed, “Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it” (119:35).