“This will be the year I read the Bible,” you say to yourself. And so you begin, with the best of intentions, but before long you’re taking strain. Then you get to Numbers and your days are numbered!
Why do so many of us struggle to read the Bible? Even when we really want to do it, we somehow fall short. Are we feeble, or what? Why can’t we muster the discipline? Why do competing priorities take precedence? Why do we struggle to focus on the text? Why?
There are many practical reasons why we don’t read the Bible, but there’s one big spiritual reason that trivializes all other reasons: Bible reading takes great effort because Satan’s the enemy of Bible engagement.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Satan does everything in his power to undermine our engagement with God’s Word because he’s hell-bent on doing everything he can to destabilize, demoralize, damage or destroy our relationship with Jesus.
Satan’s been the enemy of Bible engagement since the beginning of humanity. The first thing he did to undermine God’s relationship with the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden, was to twist God’s word (cf. Genesis 3:1).
Satan’s also been the enemy of Bible engagement since the beginning of Christ’s public ministry. The first thing he did to try and demolish Christ’s work to redeem and reconcile the world to the Father, was to twist God’s word (cf. Matthew 4:1-11).
Satan has been and always will be (until he’s thrown into “the lake of burning sulphur” Revelation 20:10) “that ancient serpent … who leads the whole world astray” Revelation 12:9. And one of the main ways he leads humanity astray is by blinding our minds to the value of the Word or obscuring the Gospel message that connects us with the One who is the Word. Satan uses smoke and mirrors to divert us away from God. “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” 2 Corinthians 4:4.
Let’s not forget that Satan’s called the “prince of this world” (John 12:31) because the whole world is under his control (cf. 1 John 5:19). That’s why it’s naive to think we can connect with the Bible in our own strength. We need supernatural power, a power greater than Satan’s power, in order to successfully read, reflect, remember and respond to God’s Word.
So don’t try to go it alone. Don’t think that a New Year resolution or your personal discipline will be enough for a Bible reading victory. And don’t be so arrogant to think that you can do anything you set your mind and will to do. For it takes One greater than the enemy of Bible engagement to help you get into, and stay in the Word. It takes “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit,” whom God sends to “teach you all things” and remind you of everything He has “said to you” John 14:26.
There you have it. To grow stronger in Bible engagement you need to depend on the Holy Spirit. So remember to ask God daily to fill you with His Spirit (cf. Ephesians 5:18) and then open the Book and trust Him to “make everything plain to you” (John 14:26 MSG).
© Scripture Union Canada 2018