I have often heard the quote concerning the Bible, which says, “this book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book.”
If I were to be really honest here, in my shallow faith I always thought this was a relatively dumb saying. There is no way reading a book would control my actions or vice-versa. Sure, reading books shape the mind, but such an absolute statement seemed completely impossible no matter what the book was. This opinion, however, is challenged and changed a little more every time I do get into the Bible and experience it’s power for myself.
If we’re honest, Christians oftentimes say things about the Bible that don’t make sense to non-Christians. Particularly we say things like “it is the Word of God” or “the sword of the Lord,” and that it is “a living book.” Now, we say all this, even though we know that the Bible wasn’t some completed scroll that was handed down from Heaven one day in some mystical setting as the voice of God declared it His instruction manual for life. In fact, we have quite a bit of history recorded, showing that it was penned by various writers over a large period of time in geographically diverse places, nd at the end of the day, we even know that books cannot be alive in the same sense that we as people are alive. We aren’t as crazy as some might think.
For the believer, though, these saying, even though they don’t sound logical, tend to prove true when we actually engage with the Bible.
For those who don’t know, what Christians mean when we say that the Bible is alive and that it will keep us from sin is that out of all the books on the planet, it is the only one that has the Holy Spirit of God confirming it’s truthfulness and testifying to it’s description of reality.
This is demonstrated for the individual in the fact that when a person goes to read the Bible what usually happens is that by the power of God’s Spirit, the Bible reads them instead. In fact, the Bible itself says that looking into the scriptures is like looking into a mirror as it shows us who we are. A wise person walks away and remembers who they are, living out what the scriptures revealed, but a foolish person walks away and forgets who God says they are. (James 1:22-25)
Now of course, for you to find any of this to be true, you can’t take my words for it. No matter what I say here, you can hold the same opinion that I used to, and think I am just talking a lot of religious talk. However, if you will begin to engage with the Bible regularly – daily – you will find out from your own experience that all of this is true.
For me personally, it isn’t always when I spend time in the Bible that these facts are confirmed, but oftentimes it is revealed in my commitment to spend time in the Bible immediately followed by my avoiding the Bible. The desire will be there, “but first let me just…” This statement can be followed by hours of doing everything else I could possibly find to do whether it’s work, or Facebook, or running errands, or watching T.V.
I always know that the desire to engage is God drawing me in, wanting to spend time with his son, but at the same time I look at myself and know that something isn’t right in my life, and I don’t know that I want the Bible to pull it out and lay it bare. In fact, to make myself feel better, I can easily turn to other Christian books or turn on worship music that are affirming and will make me feel like everything is great. But in the end, no matter how good I feel, when it comes to opening up the Bible and letting it read me in the presence of God, it is always one of the hardest things for me to just sit down and do.
The best comparison to this feeling that I can find is in Genesis 3 when God comes to the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve had sinned and calls out to the humans, but they are hiding in their shame. Too often we treat the Bible and our prayer life the same way. We know God is there wanting to meet with us, but we just don’t want to face him. That is why our sin will keep us from the Bible.
The reality is, though, that Jesus died for our sins even before the first one was ever committed and that God loves us today, just the way we are. This is what we find in the pages of scripture. Not condemnation, but forgiveness in the face of our sinfulness. We find freedom in dependance on God, and when we do, that is what will keep us from sin.
This is where Christian maturity begins: not hiding in our shame, but accepting His grace in our best moments AND our worst moments.
So are you up for the challenge?
You know that God is drawing you in, wanting to speak to you through His word, and to engage with you in the most intimate way possible. But it’s your move. Will you meet Him there as He calls, or will you keep hiding in the bushes in shame?