Reading the Bible can be the gateway to heavenly bliss or the path to subtle self-destruction. Reading the Bible means moving on sacred ground , so we must be aware of the fine line that separates reading from sin when we read the Bible.
As you read this article, please take seriously 2 Corinthians 13:5 and “Examine yourselves…examine yourselves.”
Sin number one – reading without prayer – is the sin of prideful self-confidence.
Reading God’s Word must be infused with prayer, before, during and after. God is the true author of this book, and to him we must turn to understand and experience the countless blessings he wants to pour out on us through the Bible.
How to avoid it – Make this humble prayer your own: “Make me understand the teaching of your commandments” (Psalm 119:27a).
Sin No. 2 – Reading without meditating – the sin of meaningless mysticism.
Reading is only the beginning of our journey toward God’s truth. We need to meditate on what we read, and we need to meditate long and hard. Some parts of the Bible are more difficult to understand than others; if you are faced with a difficult passage, you may simply have to spend more time thinking about it.
How to avoid this: exclaim with conviction: “Then I will meditate on your wonders” (Psalm 119:27b). When you open the book, open it, practice and fill your mind, don’t empty it.
Sin #3 – Reading without communion – the sin of dead intellectualism.
Bible reading is the means to the reverent goal of deeper communion with God. If Bible reading does not lead to deeper intimacy with King Jesus, something is wrong. Time spent in God’s Word should never be an end in itself. It is the entrance into the presence of Christ, our Creator, Sustainer and Lover of our souls.
How to avoid it – As you read, pray like the Psalmist: “I seek You with all my heart” (Psalm 119:10a) and “Do not forsake me utterly” (Psalm 119:8b).
Sin #4 – reading without understanding – the sin of empty ritualism.
Are words just words? We communicate with God through His word when His Spirit reveals His meaning to us. Reading without understanding is not reading, it is a useless ritual, a mere formality that grieves the spirit, displeases the Father and dishonors his Son.
How to avoid it – When you are aware of the sacredness of the Scriptures, pray: “Open my eyes, that I may see wonderful things in your law” (Psalm 119:18). It is not just another book. Say with Peter: “You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
Sin #5 – Reading without believing – the sin of Pharisaical legalism.
What do Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, tithing and helping those in need have in common? They can be an expression of faith that saves or an expression of faith that does not save. For the true believer, they are a test of life. For the false believer, they are proof of a false conversion and only serve to reinforce his self-deception. Bible Reading Plans, like all good works, is never the cause of our salvation, but its consequence. The difference is infinitely great, eternally great.
How to avoid it – Think of the miracle of salvation by grace through faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Nothing we do earns us God’s favor (not even reading the Bible). From beginning to end, salvation is His work, not ours.
Sin #6 – reading without obeying – the sin of cheap grace.
Salvation is free, but it will cost you everything. Isn’t this the ultimate paradox of Scripture? We are not saved by good works, but for good works, which is why reading the Bible is one of the most important activities God uses to enable us to lead a life of increasing obedience, holiness and Christ-likeness. Sinless perfection will elude us this side of heaven, but a transformed life will not. If your Bible reading is not having an effect on your life, you should consider the possibility that you are still dead in your sins and must be born of the Spirit (John 3:1-8).