I used to be afraid of reading the Bible. There was a period of a couple years, from sixteen to eighteen, where I very rarely picked it up. I knew I needed to, cuz I knew that it would help me, but everytime I flipped it open, my heart got put into overdrive and I did NOT want to read anything that did that.
By overdrive, I mean that I dealt with some grand anxiety (remember the end of the world stuff?) and it didn’t matter if I were reading from Revelation or Psalms, I would start freaking out. Therefore, why do something that caused even more problems?
If you’ve grown up in church, you’ve probably heard John 10:10 plenty of times, saying that satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. All true. He also comes to sell, to barder, to implement, to flirt. Which, obviously, fits under those three things stated in the Bible. But how many of us know that it’s the devil who makes sure you see the magazine about the ideal weight? And that he can actually use the most powerful book for his power?
At sixteen, I couldn’t figure out what was so wrong with me that I couldn’t read the Bible, which hellooooooo, is what leads us to Jesus, who literally is the Prince of Peace. I knew it, but guys, the Bible was scary to me.
It says some wild stuff. It says that if you’re enslaved in sexual sin, you are not going to inherit the Kingdom. Basically, you’re going to hell. It says that there’s beasts with multiple heads. It talks about killing people by earthquake. I mean…yeah. The Bible is scary.
But why is it scary? Could it seriously be that the devil takes even the words of Jesus and makes them into something so terrifiying that we leave them on the shelf? Is it possible that we look at those words and see how we’re going to hell like right now and decide that it’s better to live without that reminder? (Or in my case, make me think about the thing I had anxiety about.)
Probably so. Definitely so.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ~ Hebrews 4:12
THAT is why we freak out a little at the thought of opening a Bible. Regardless of how much faith we have that God is real, there’s generally an acknowledgement that God KNOWS. And that the moment we open that book, he’s looking in (not that he wasn’t before), prying away our layers of protection around our hearts and souls, and he’s going to do something.
Why is it so hard to do that? Because we all–honestly–need God to do something. Life can be all over the place, and if you seriously think you have it all together…okay then. Lying is a sin.
God can HELP YOU. With your job, with your sexual sins, with your loneliness. He’s right there, waiitng for people to reach out, and when a person does…things happen. Sometimes in one big shabang and sometimes in small moments, but lives CHANGE.
Obviously, the devil doesn’t want that to happen. He will go to great lengths to keep as many people on his side as possible, because no way does he want you to make any move toward Jesus. Do you think he’s going to let you just prop open the Bible and read for five hours without a fight?
I didn’t know that a few years ago, and I spent plenty of time not understanding why my problem wasn’t getting any better. I was trying, right? But I very rarely actually opened the Bible, the book that shows and explains how to cast anxieties on him.
But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge. ~ Psalm 73:28
God is near wherever we are, but I think the nearest he is, is in the book that he wrote. (Through others, of course.) It is good to be near God, as I’ve been discovering over the past couple years. He IS a refuge for the lost and broken, and through him comes joy. (Psalm 30:11-12)
So, yeah, the devil is going to do everything he can to make the Bible scary. He knows how to make a verse condemning, he knows how to make a verse in Psalms remind me of the end of the world, and he knows how to make sure you flip to a verse that freaks you out.
And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. ~ 2 Corinthians 11:14
Condemnation is a real thing. There’s a thousand verses about what not to do, and what happens when a person is doing it. And I believe God intended them to hurt, because he wants us to change our ways, repent, and move toward him. If a verse went like this: “oh, it’s not ideal for you to be having sex outside of marriage, but y’know, whatever floats your boat. But probably not a great thing,” is there any need to do anything? Okay, it’s wrong. But there’s no need to change. There is no reason to change.
But when a verse like this is in the Bible, there’s a definite cause to change: “Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
Alrighty, then. Verses like that are hard-hitting, and they are meant to make you pretty nervous. Because the wages of sin is DEATH. Unless we repent and ask for Jesus to come into our hearts, we are going to hell. Simple as that.
Recently, while I was reading, I brought the question of harshness up to God. How are people who have actively engaged (or who are engaging) in these sins (even though it really covers all of them) supposed to read a verse like that and have any hope of forgiveness? Elsewhere it states that God can forgive anything, but a verse like that hurts.
And God brought up a simple English lesson we all learned.
Being verbs. Am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been.
The being verbs are the key to understanding salvation and what God forgives.
All of those sins stated above lead to hell. Every sin leads to hell. But when we change our ways, when we used to engage in sexual immorality, when we used to commit adultery…that’s where things change.
The verse right after that verse in 1 Corinthians says, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~ 1 John 1:9
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” ~ Isaiah 1:18
IS means that we are currently doing something. It’s present tense.
WAS means that we are no longer doing something. It’s past tense.
As I started looking at the hard-hitting verses with that idea, things looked different. When that sin is a present tense action, that is leading to destruction. But when we repent and CHANGE, it becomes a was.
And then there is NO condemnation for those who are in Jesus. He has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1) You are whole, you are healed, you are forgiven! When we are saved and turn away from our sins, we can read through those hard-hitting verses with the faith that God has forgiven us for the things of the past.
And if it’s still terrifying to read, because all you can think of is your sin? Know that that is the devil. Trying to make the Bible scary, trying to get you right back into your past. Trying to steal and destroy what you have. He will always be tempting, because that’s what he does. It’s our job to learn to stand against it, to read about how to, and despite our best efforts, that’s truly only going to come through the Bible. I read plenty of self-help books with sweet words and nothing helped until I started reading the actual book.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. ~ Psalm 119:105
Yes, the Bible can be scary. It is filled with crazy words, confusing statements, and convicting verses. But it is also a love letter to all of us, intent on showing us how to become one of the righteous, and how to live after that decision. It should be no surprise to us that the devil does not want that to happen. And as Christians, we have power over the devil. He can be ignored, he can be stuffed into a tiny box and locked in. That box gets smaller and the key sinks further into the ocean by reading the Bible.
Don’t let satan steal that power from you!