Why is it so important for Christians to read the Bible? The answer is obvious right? Because the Bible is God’s words and we are commanded to study it and know what it says (2 Timothy 2:15). But if the answer is so obvious, why are so many Christians not reading the Bible?
The Bible is the story of redemption. It is a relationship guide for the heartbroken teenager, a business book for the savvy entrepreneur, and a life help book for the tired mom. It was written by God, pinned by His people, and given as a guide to all those who will believe. But the truth is, for the person who claims the name of Christ, the Bible is convicting. It will tell the heartbroken teenager to not be unequally yoked, it will show that business savvy entrepreneur that the love of money is the root of all evil, it will reveal to that tired mom that her rest will not be found in self love but only in Jesus. When the truth of God's words aren't what we want to hear, we start picking and choosing (sometimes without realizing it) what parts of the Bible we want to believe.
We like the parts about being fearfully and wonderfully made, but we ignore the parts that tell us we can’t watch that show, say that word, or sleep with that person.
Here is a hard truth, the Bible is either rejected fully or accepted fully. There is no picking through the Bible. You either follow the Jesus of the Bible, or a man-made Jesus who isn’t actually Jesus at all. This truth is revealed in scripture and we as sinful people don’t like to hear about it.
In James 4 we see James speaking to a people who are caught up in their own desires and do not understand that seeking the desires of the flesh, the things of this world, causes them to be an enemy of God. "Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." James 4:4
Far too often the desire for the things of this word outweighs our desire for the things of God. We find ourselves disregarding what God says because the world's way is easier or more gratifying to our desires.
So, how do we overcome this? How do we get into the Bible even though it painfully chips away at our sin? Just a few verses later in James 4:6-8 we read this, "But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: 'God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.' Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." Here He gives us the answer: submit to God, resist the devil, draw near to God, and Purify your mind.
How do we do this in a practical and applicable way? We read the Bible and we pray. We dig deep into the very thing that convicts us... and we allow it to convict us. We submit to what is says.
At first it hurts, but as time goes on we begin to be molded and shaped into the image of Christ. Like a piece of clay in the hands of the potter we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds as we delve deep into the stories of Jesus.
As our heart begins to believe what God’s word says, and our lives begin to reflect what our heart has already accepted, we will no longer be upset at the pain of conviction, but we will allow it to shape us.
God’s commands are not meant to be a useless rule book. God says that Satan will steal, kill and destroy, but He came to give us life and life more abundantly, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." John 10:10. He knows what is best for the people He created. His rules are a way to draw us to Him, allowing us to have the best spiritual life imaginable. They are there for our good.
If you saw a child about to touch a hot stove you would quickly urge them to stop because that would hurt them. You know what is best for them and you want to give them the best experiences possible. God is urging us to obey Him because He sees all and He knows what is best for us. We need not be like the child who touches the stove top in ignorance and disobedience. We have an all loving father who has given us commands for our own good.
Get into His word. Allow it the penetrate your heart. You will be changed.