We’re winding down on this series on Bible study, and I initially wanted to start this new post by making the assumption that my readers have started to develop a habit of reading the Bible daily. However, that’s likely not a true assumption, not necessarily because of failures on the part of my readers, but also because we have an enemy who works against us. Believe me, Satan doesn’t want you to make that lifestyle change. Our habitual sins and wrong thinking habits give the devil (or his minions) access to us, allowing him to sidetrack our thoughts, tell us lies about God, or tempt us into sinning. He very much wants to keep our sins and negative habits in place. The word of God cuts all that dross away, leaving the enemy with nothing to hang onto, so it’s no wonder that the forces of darkness work overtime to keep us from studying the Bible. He uses simple things like a bad night’s sleep or a bad headache against us. If that isn’t working, the devil will resort to outright spiritual attacks. Things like nightmarish dreams or sexual temptations, illness, or even the neighbors next door screaming at each other. He’ll use the content of last night’s video against us, keeping our thoughts and motivations away from spending time with God and reading the Bible. The good news is that God has given us some tools that we can use to help us enter into His presence when we sit down to spend time with Him.
The key to this battle we all fight is contained in that last phrase above: Spend time with Him. Let’s start with this question: Why do I study the Bible? Take a moment to write down an answer – just one sentence – before continuing to read this post.
Here are some possible answers:
- Because my pastor and my friends tell me I should.
- So I can be a better person.
- I really need to know all the rules so that I can be a good Christian.
Your answer is likely somewhat different, but, certainly, none of the three examples above provides us with an adequate answer. The last one is actually dangerous. If we go through that list one by one I think you’ll see my point and it will help us find the real answer to our "Why?" question.
- Because my pastor and my friends tell me I should. Well, nothing wrong with that, really, especially if you have only recently chosen Christ as your Savior. It is a good place to start. Still, you can’t stay there. The things we do as Christians can’t be done for the sake of pleasing others. They must flow from our own hearts. If we do our Bible study simply because others tell us we should, that activity will eventually falter and fail. We’ll find ourselves growing weary of performing to please other people and eventually find other things to do with our time. We will then cease to grow in Christ and maybe even slide back into old, sinful patterns of living. Our study of the word of God needs to be more deeply motivated than just what other people tell us we should do.
- So I can be a better person. Nothing wrong with that, either. It will be effective, too! Hopefully, you read last week’s post. The double-edged sword of the word of God cuts away the darkness and sin of our souls. It sets us free to actually be good people. Still, if that’s the only reason you have for reading the word of God you are missing one of the deepest and most important foundational truths of the Christian faith. Through Christ you are righteous! Through Him, you are a good person! Through faith, Jesus, the only truly righteous man who ever lived, has given you His righteousness. Because He is a good person, you are a good person. Think on that for a while. (This truth is taught in every Christian church in the world. Your pastor knows all about it and can tell you more than I can, here in this limited space.)
- I really need to know all the rules so that I can be a good Christian. Whoa! Danger flags should be flying, red lights flashing, and “red alert” should be shouted over the intercom system! Contrary to popular opinion, Christianity is not a religion of rules. Many Christians have fallen into that ditch and it has distorted not only their own lives, but it also distorts their view of God and their concept of who He is. Our walk with Christ is not a matter of keeping the rules, it’s a matter of walking in the Spirit. In fact, the Apostle Paul said exactly that in Galatians 5:16, “Walk in the spirit and you will not do the deeds of the flesh.” The “deeds of the flesh” are, simply put, sins. We don’t avoid sin by following “the rules”, we avoid sin by letting the spirit/Spirit speak to us and guide us. When you accepted Christ the Holy Spirit entered into you, connecting Himself to you. Now, if you feel tempted to do something wrong, He is there shaking His head saying, “No.” Of course, we can always decide to go ahead and do something we know to be wrong, but we know it’s wrong because of the Spirit within us, not because of rules that have been written in some rule book.
So, I’m not reading the Bible just because somebody told me I should. My own personal “goodness” is based in Christ, His sacrifice on the cross, and His resurrection, rather than because I read the Bible every day. I certainly am not reading the Bible so I can know all the rules – that’s a trap I know to avoid. Really, why do I read the Bible? Why do I ponder the words that I read in that book, shoving them deep into my soul? Paul, in his letter to the Christians living in the Roman city of Philippi, put it this way: “I want to know Christ…” and that shows us why we read the Word of God. We study the Bible because as the word of God becomes a part of us, we learn to know God! It’s all about getting to know Him! Through the word of God and the study of the word of God, we find out what kind of person He is, what makes Him happy, and what makes Him sad. He shares His thoughts with us and maybe even shows us some of what He is planning. More than that, we find ourselves drawn closer, drawn inward toward Him, and then His love for us washes over our souls. The word of God teaches us to worship.
I’m going to end here for today. In our next post, I want to talk about how worship is the key to good Bible study and how it defeats the enemy’s work in our lives.
Use the comments below to let me know your thoughts. :>)
As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.