Jun 4, 2012
Let’s say you are worried about money, or tempted with jealousy, or feeling far from God.
You’ve heard that Bible-reading can help, so you give it a try.
You sit down at your desk, open your Bible, and start to read.
Maybe you start with a psalm — Psalm 23 is always good — and read it through.
But you receive no help. You are still worried about money.
So you turn to a gospel — I’ll try the gospel of John — and read a couple chapters.
Still no help. You continue to feel jealous.
So you try one of Paul’s letters — Ephesians would be good — and start reading.
Still — no help. Your heart feels no closer to God.
This is puzzling, especially when we see what God promises to do in us through his Word —
“The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.” (Psalm 19:7)
“The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.” (Psalm 19:8)
“If you abide in my word … the truth will set you free [from sin — v.34].” (John 8:31-32)
“Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)
So when I read the Bible but don’t experience these promises, what’s the problem?
In my case, it’s usually one of the following four reasons —
First, I Am Not Admitting My Spiritual Blindness
Take worry about money, for example. When I am worried about money, the reason is because I am spiritually blind to the truth of God’s Word.
To see this, think about the promise of Philippians 4:19 — “My God shall supply all your needs.”
I can read that promise. And understand that promise.
But if I am worried about money, I am not seeing the truth of that promise. I am not believing that promise.
At that moment I am spiritually blind to the fact that through Christ, God promises to meet all my financial needs.
So if I’m spiritually blind, I can read that promise over and over, and even read the Bible from cover to cover – but my heart won’t change.
So what can I do? I should confess my spiritual blindness to God and ask him to forgive me through Christ.
Then I can pray: “Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (Psalm 119:36).
When we pray this earnestly and humbly, in Jesus’ name, and keep reading over God’s promises — God will heal our spiritual blindness.
As a result we will not just read Philippians 4:19 — we will see, feel, and believe Philippians 4:19.
And our worry about money will be gone.
Second, I’m Not Being Honest With God
Let’s say we are feeling far from God because we love money.
That will make us feel far from God, because it’s sin to love money, and unconfessed sin keeps us from experiencing God’s presence.
So I can read the Bible from sunup to sundown, but if I’m not honest with God about my love of money, I will still feel far from Him.
What I need to do is confess to God the true state of my heart — that I am loving money more than him.
I need to ask him to forgive me through Jesus, and to use his Word to change my heart.
And then I need to find Scriptures showing that God is infinitely more satisfying than money.
Then , as I pray over those Scriptures, and fight to trust those Scriptures, the Holy Spirit will go to work.
He will open my eyes to see who God is. He will help me feel God’s all-satisfying glory. As a result, I will love God more than money.
And I will no longer feel far from God.
Third, I Don’t Understand How God’s Word Changes Me
It’s not just by reading.
It’s by being honest with God about the true condition of my heart, and prayerfully meditating on Scriptures that speak to my condition.
As I do that, I will feel the Holy Spirit strengthen my faith in those Scriptures, and as my faith is strengthened, my heart will change.
That’s what Paul is talking about in Romans 10:17 –
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Let’s say I’m jealous of my neighbor’s Corvette. My jealousy shows that I believe I can’t be fully happy without a Corvette, and that I am not trusting Christ as my all-satisfying Treasure.
Jealousy, in other words, is sinful unbelief. So I need to be honest with God about my jealousy, confessing it to him as sin, and being assured of complete forgiveness through Christ.
Then I need to find Scriptures showing that Christ is infinitely more satisfying than a Corvette.
Then I need to pray earnestly over those Scriptures, trusting God to use his Spirit to change my heart through the Word. As I do, I will start to see and feel the infinite worth of Christ.
And the more I feel the infinite worth of Christ, the less I will care about the Corvette.
And my jealousy will be gone.
Fourth, I Give Up Too Soon
Sin is nasty. It builds up a thick crust around our hearts, so we can’t feel the truth of God’s Word. But the Holy Spirit turns God’s Word into a jack-hammer.
And when I find verses that speak to my heart-issues of love of money or jealousy, and pray earnestly over them, the jack-hammer of the Word goes to work.
But concrete doesn’t yield immediately. It can take time for a jack-hammer to break through.
So I need to keep praying over God’s Word, meditating on God’s Word, preaching to myself God’s Word – letting God’s Word pound on the crust of my sin.
In time, the crust of sin will be broken and my heart will be changed.
Questions? Comments? Feedback?
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
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