According to a 2020 Bible research study, the number of Americans who use the Bible daily fell to fewer than one in ten, the lowest number on record during the ten years of the study. Moreover, one Barna study recorded that Christians read their Bible less during the pandemic than in the previous years. Pandemic or not, fewer minds have been reading the Bible over recent time. A mind that stops dwelling on God will soon stop speaking of God. But even more importantly, a mind that doesn’t engage with the Scriptures will conform to the world rather than be transformed by the Word.
The devil cares what Christians do with their Bibles. A toxic student of the Word himself, with centuries of practice and memorization, the devil analyses, studies, and misspeaks God’s Word to lead believers astray. Every day he hopes Christians remain clueless and illiterate with their Bibles. The less Christians know, the more he suppresses them and confuses them. He wants more illiterate Christians, detached from the ordinary reading of the Bible, because an un-taught Christian is a lukewarm believer and an easy target to devour.
With so much at stake for us, here are three lies the devil uses to keep us away from our Bibles.
Lie #1: “I’m too busy to read it this season!”
The Bible praises hard honest work. In Proverbs 6:6, the sluggard is rebuked and sent to take lessons from the ant. Ants teach us how to work– these tiny, diligent, self-motivated creatures. But if we are not careful, we can work ourselves through business away from God. In C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters,” we hear the senior demon Screwtape boasting to his novice nephew, “It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds; in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.” Good work can fill our schedules and push the Bible away. In his attempt to get Christian women to not read and study their Bibles, the devil works to get us “enslaved to the pressure of the ordinary.” How many times have you said, “I’m too busy to read the Bible,” or, “I’ll get to it after…” and never get to do it?
The Bible is disruptive. When we read the Bible at the height of our business, it disrupts our plans, our activities, our days. But in this disruption, the Bible also penetrates deeper into our schedules, straight into our soul and spirit, joints and marrow, even into our thoughts and the intentions of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12). Because the Bible is living and active, we can expect it to disrupt our life in a good way. To live a God-centered busy life we must learn to live on a Word-centered schedule. When the Bible is in then we can keep out what matters less.
A practical suggestion: Place the Bible in the space that you are most likely to spend time every day. It may be the bathroom counter, the bedside table, the car, or the living room. For us, it is the kitchen table. Every time you pass by the Bible, stop and pray. Ask God to draw you to the Bible’s content. There’s power in this book and until our business is disrupted by it, we won’t order our lives around it.
Lie #2: “I’m too confused when I read the Bible!”
The truth is, the Bible is not a simplified book. Though many Christian principles can be explained in simple concepts so that even children can understand them, the Bible remains a rich, diverse, and exceptionally unique book. When we read and study God’s Word, we read and study God’s language. Every time we open the Bible, we are exposed to words recorded by men but inspired by God’s Spirit. The source of the language of the Bible comes from God. The Bible describes itself as having been all “breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The most striking truth then is that “the Bible is not a book about God; it is God speaking to us” (David Jackman). From all the ways He could have communicated with us, God chose the most intimate, personable, and understandable one: speaking words, not transferring quantity of information from one brain to another. He wasn’t looking to impress us (though He is extraordinary), but to impact us (because He is a relational God).
When I first learned English, I began with basic language structures and worked my way up in the language. Anyone who learns a new language knows that the process takes time, it is challenging, it builds on itself, and it is closely tied to the culture the language reflects. Similarly, the Bible is a book that speaks the language of God and reflects the culture of Heaven through Christ. If learning a new language takes time, dedication, and perseverance, then studying and learning the Bible demands more than just a few short independent sit-downs spread randomly throughout the week.
Practical suggestion: Don’t study or read the Bible alone; instead, find a group or another student to join and work through it together. If God is the ultimate word-speaker, we are to be His word-centered people. God created us to gather around His words. As you dive into the Bible together, you will practice and grow together, one verse at a time, one book at a time.
Lie #3: “The Bible is too dull!”
From the moment God gave the Israelites the commandments, they were instructed to teach them to the next generation and to keep learning them for themselves. In Deuteronomy 32:47, God captures the essence of His words: “they are not empty words: they are your life […].” At the core of Bible learning and Bible teaching is the everlasting truth that God’s Word is actually “living and active” in all times and in all languages.
The images are far from flat and dull. The Word of God is:
- a fire and a hammer (Jeremiah 23:29);
- a sword with a precise surgical intrusion (Hebrews 4:12);
- a spiritual bootcamp for the Christian’s faith (2 Timothy 3:16);
- a channel for faith in God (Romans 10:17);
- the very power of God (Romans 1:16);
- food for our souls (Jeremiah 15:16);
- wisdom for our life (Psalm 119:105);
- an eternal seed (1 Peter 1:23) healing and restoring souls (Psalm 107:20).
- provision for salvation (John 1:14).
The devil wants us to believe that the Bible is boring, and irrelevant. But even more pressing for him is to cut new Christians from the multi-generational, gospel story of our family history in Christ. C.S. Lewis brilliantly captures what seems to be one of the devil’s greatest assaults: “And since we [the devils] cannot deceive the whole human race all the time, it is most important thus to cut every generation off from all others; for where learning makes a free commerce between the ages there is always the danger that the characteristic errors of one may be corrected by the characteristic truths of another.”
Linking the Biblical generations through the teaching and learning of the Bible keeps God at the center of our faith. From Adam to Abraham, to Moses, to David, to Jesus, to Paul, to my grandparents, to my church today, linked generations teach and exhort us in God’s truth. They are conduits to God’s Word. The less the devil gets us to read the “dull” and “irrelevant” Bible, the more he hopes we’d be disconnected from the biblical and church generations.
Practical suggestion: Think about your immediate family’s tree. What stories have your parents and grandparents told you about the family? Learning about the origins and tracing our family tree over the ages may seem dull and boring to someone else, but to us, it is a personal and intimate process. Similarly, reading and learning about our spiritual family tree from the Bible should fill us with joy and excitement. Though the Bible may be irrelevant to the world, to us it is God’s story of our eternal adoption in Christ.
In all life, the Bible matters. While God beckons us to come and taste to see how good God is, the devil assaults us with lies to reject and avoid it all. He knows that in the Bible’s veins flows the words that lead to eternal life in Christ. The more we read and study the Bible in our mundane, the more we know and love our God. In his famous sermon, “The Weight of Glory,” C.S. Lewis noted that there are no ordinary people but that we are all becoming either eternal wonders or eternal horrors. Similarly, then, our actions are no ordinary actions: we either choose the Bible and be transformed, or we reject it and remain stale. It is a battle all the way from here to heaven—one worth fighting.