“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” ~Jesus
Not too long ago there was a pastor in Florida who was going to have a Quran burning. He announced it, set a date, and began collecting boxes of the Muslim holy book. However, once the word of this spread, many people reached out to him to voice how deadly such an act would be.
Unbeknownst to him, Muslims see the Quran on the same level as Christians see Jesus. The actual book is extremely holy to them. Sure, we Christians like our Bibles, but most of us know it’s just a book with pages and ink. Muslims, however, will kill you if you defile or destroy the Quran. That is, the Muslims who are strictly abiding by the authentic teachings and commands of Mohammad.
“This will get you killed and your church will be destroyed,” one person told the pastor. Another, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you. That’s a death sentence.” After much consideration and counsel, he backed out of the planned blaze of books. Wise choice.
Besides, what a terrible way to show Muslims the love of Jesus. If anything, sit down and discuss the writings in the Quran over a cup of coffee. Burning their holy book (it’s holy to them and we should respect them) would create conflict rather than offer up love, compassion, and friendship. And people wonder why we Christians have such a bad reputation. It’s because of stupid stuff like that.
But misrepresenting God is not the point of my devotional today. Today, I want to talk about the mistake of viewing your Bible as more holy than the Spirit of God Himself.
First, please know that I love my Bible. I’m all for the Bible. Everything written in it is just, holy, right, perfect, and from front to back, it is the actual inspired words of God. I’m not here to bash the Bible, I’m here to help you understand there is something more important than the Bible: a relationship with God.
Knowledge of the Bible means nothing if you don’t know the Author behind it–especially if you don’t care for the Author behind it. Satan even has all of Scripture memorized (see Luke 4:1-13). Jesus was the first to point this out to the religious people who had the entire Old Testament down pat:
“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40)
Of course it wasn’t called the Old Testament back then, but the point He was making is the same. It was Scripture. Written words that were inspired by the Spirit of God through man. The Pharisees could correct non-scripturally-educated people down to the jot and tittle. But still, they refused to see Jesus as the one those very Scriptures were referencing.
There is a very well-known person on the radio who has the Bible memorized nearly verbatim. Like a human search engine, he can pull up any chapter and verse almost instantly from his memory banks. However, I’ve heard this man say many things that go against the grace of God, while at the same time, being uber-critical of other Bible teachers. He regularly rips into them with no mercy.
Often I’ve thought, “Why did he even memorize the Bible? Was it so he can use it as a weapon to hurt others and look righteous?” I don’t listen to him any longer, but before I stopped, I found myself tuning in to his program just to see if his tone would ever change into a loving tone–a graceful tone. It did not. Thankfully, the Spirit of God in me pointed out that his style of teaching was off. But at the same time, the Spirit of God also revealed that I must think of that man with the same grace I do everyone else. His faith is weak, and that’s why he is so rude and pompous (see Romans 14:1).
Friend, have you ever encountered a Christian who used the Bible as a way to attack you? They quoted Scripture all the time, attempting to manipulate and control you? Their goal was to instill tremendous fear, anxiety, and guilt by way of listing off Bible verses?
This is one of the main reasons why so many people stop going to church. They’re saved, they still love Jesus, but they’ve had enough of the hateful, religious people to last a lifetime. They want nothing to do with them, and I don’t blame them.
If that’s you, and you’ve been hurt, let me tell you something. Your salvation is still secure. Don’t let the enemy cause chaos in your mind because you don’t go to a geographical location for an hour each week. If you believe Jesus is your Savior, you are the church! On this side of the Cross, no building can ever house God! (See 1 Corinthians 6:19). Go if you want to go. Don’t go if you don’t want to go. You are free! (See Galatians 5:1).
In regard to the Bible, some Christians refuse to rightfully divide God’s Word between Old Covenant and New Covenant. They mix the two together, creating a poisonous quasi-gospel, when the Old Covenant is completely obsolete! It is a ministry of death! (See Hebrews 8:13, 2 Corinthians 3:7-10). It’s only useful for unbelievers, and even then, all it does is funnel them into God’s grace! (See 1 Timothy 1:8, Matthew 7:13-14, Galatians 3:13).
Just so I’m clear, all of the Bible is perfect and valid, but we–all of humanity–only have the one option of living by the Spirit of God, according to the New Covenant. The New Covenant is the only Covenant available! Therefore, we do not live by words on a page! Not a single word, on any page!
“So Matt, if we don’t live by any words on any page, then how do we know what to do?”
God’s Spirit. Friend, believe it or not, His Spirit in you will guide you into all truth. You don’t even need the Bible–keep reading, I’ll explain.
Jesus said this very thing, and so did Paul. The gist of what the gospel truly is can be explained very simply–so simply, even a child can understand it: By believing Jesus has forgiven you of your sin, God lives in you, with you, guiding you, and He’ll never leave you despite your behaviors or attitudes (see Matthew 18:3, John 14:6, Galatians 5, 2 Timothy 2:13, Hebrews 10:14, John 3:16, Colossians 3:3). Jesus tells us more:
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” (John 16:13)
The Spirit of truth is God. God lives in you. So you know the truth.
As you can see I’m using the Bible for everything I’m referencing. I LOVE THE BIBLE. It is a compilation of love letters from God to us. When you feel pressured to read the Bible, don’t. Your Good Father does not pressure you to read anything He’s written to you through man. Instead, He gently guides you toward these letters, but He is not guilting you to read anything.
He loves you, even if you can’t read. Even if you don’t have eyes to see it or ears to hear Scripture, you are still infinitely loved as God’s own child. Your belief in Jesus solidifies this truth (see John 1:12). Make no mistake, if you never read a word of the Bible, God’s Spirit will still live in you in full, and He will guide you just as much as a Christian who knows the whole Bible by heart. Believe you need Jesus and this happens (see Hebrews 8:11, 10:16).
I can already hear an angry rebuttal from a person who knows lots of Scripture, “This is wrong, Matt! Without knowing the Bible, we can’t know God! We gotta have His Word in us! We gotta know His Word so that we know how to live our lives! You are just a Bible basher!”
I’m not a Bible basher. Have you read my books? They are riddled with Scripture like bullet holes. And as for us not being able to know God without knowing the Bible, tell me this:
- How did Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Rahab, Malachi, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Samson, Daniel, David, Solomon, and every human being in the Bible know Him before it was written?
- How did the early Christians know God when the Bible wasn’t even completed until 400+ years after Jesus ascended? How did they know what to do and what not to do?
Friend, the answer is simple. The answer will grab the ego of a legalist, slap it on the back of the neck, and say, “Get outta here!”…The answer is…God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit is how everyone has always known Him! God’s Spirit is how we still know Him! Not from words on a page, not by tablets of stone, but by His Spirit we know our Creator!
So today, my friends, know this: We are so blessed to have the divinely inspired words of God in a nice, neat, organized book. But even if we didn’t have a Bible like the people before us didn’t, God would still make Himself known to us. God’s Spirit doesn’t speak in King James English, He speaks to our hearts in whatever way we can understand Him. We are so fortunate to live in the epoch we live in, this time period allows us to do so much and to know so much! This time period has been gifted by God with the Bible! However, God’s Spirit in us can teach us so much more than words on a page! You, Christian, already know more than any book can ever teach you because God is in you! Use the book! God will back up what you already know through the book! That book is alive and active through God’s own Spirit! But without being led by His Spirit as you read it…it means nothing. So invite God into your spirit first, and then afterwards, read His love letters. They are awesome.
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, today I want to thank you for your Spirit AND for the Bible. When both are combined together amazing things can happen! For so long, I felt obligated to read my Bible. I even had a checklist I used each day. Sure, I read a lot, but I was reading for the wrong reasons. If I missed a day I felt guilty and anxious, and you didn’t want that for me. You wanted me to relax and just get to know you even better. There was never any pressure on me! What a relief to understand that you are an easy-going, compassionate Dad who only wants the best for me! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. So many of them have been hurt by grace-confused Christians who’ve acted like they were more holy than them. These hurtful people, who’ve memorized more Scripture, have used that head-knowledge as a weapon against less-biblically-educated people. That’s just wrong, and these readers have been victims of such. Please reveal the truth today! Reveal that it doesn’t matter how much of the Bible they know, what matters is that they know you! Once they know you, you will always guide them into truth! You will always guide them into unconditional love and grace! Let them know that if the Bible never existed you would have STILL made a way to reveal yourself to them through Jesus! This fact alone is what draws us toward the Bible, because we want to know more and more about this great love! Take us deeper! Amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 3. Get your copy here!