Bible

8 Ways Satan Uses To Keep Us Out Of The Bible

There is no doubt that Satan knows the power of God’s word to change us. He works tirelessly to take away the seeds of Scripture planted in us (see Mark 4:14-15). He knows that the Bible, in the hands of the Holy
Spirit, is lethal against his tactics. Consider this excerpt from C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters in which a chief demon seeks to mentor a trainee demon in how to hurt the faith of believers:

“Don’t let him open the Enemy’s book. Have him think he’s not feeling spiritual enough. Suggest that it’s too complicated. Tell him he’s too tired. Be vigilant — five minutes of prayerful reading can set him back months (Rom 10:17).”

Satan knows that the Bible is integral to our mission here on this earth (John 17:14-19). He knows that the Bible sanctifies us and makes us holy (specifically focus on John 17:17). He knows that faith comes from hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). He knows that when we see Jesus by faith that we will transform more into His image by the Spirit’s power (2 Corinthians 3:18).

So, what does he want to do? He wants to do all that it takes to keep us out of the Bible. How does he do that? There are certainly many things he does but here are eight ways which we commonly see today:

  1. Distracts you with your phone, social media, video games, Netflix, YouTube
    Name whatever it is that distracts you most—that is what Satan is using. Here’s the thing, many of the objects that he uses are good in themselves. He loves to use good things to distract us from ultimate things.
    Practical Tip: Turn your phone over during your devotions. If someone REALLY needs you then they will get you.

  2. Busyness with friends, school, work, sports, clubs, parenting, schedules, etc.
    How often do we find ourselves saying, “Well, I didn’t have time to get in the Word today.” Satan loves this tactic. Our day is a busy day. We are constantly on the go and we hardly like to stop. How often our Enemy likes to use our busyness and our productivity to actually keep us away from the Word that transforms us into the image of Christ.
    Practical Tip: Schedule your devotions and guard that time with your life. Seek to have a consistent time and place in order to build a better habit.

  3. Boredom by saying, “I already know this.”
    How many of us get to our devotions and immediately look at the text (say John 3:16 for example) and respond with, “I already got this one.” How little do we simmer over the text and bring out the rich flavors that are in the Word! Can we really look at God’s love and say, “Yea, I know that already”? Satan will use our familiarity and cause us to think that that Bible is somehow boring. We pay attention to that which captivates us most and if there is the seed within that gives fruit to the thought that the Bible is boring then Satan has won a battle in our hearts.
    Practical Tip: 1) Change up your Bible reading plan (if you’re doing bigger portions, change to smaller portions or vice versa). 2) Pick up other books that show you how amazing the Bible is (try Kevin DeYoung’s Taking God At His Word or D.A. Carson’s The God Who Is There)

  4. Lesser works with devotional books (although good but not enough)
    Let me set this straight: Devotional books are good and very helpful when they are from authors that bring out the rich treasures of the Bible. Let me repeat: Solid, biblical devotional books are good. But, they are not Scripture. Nothing replaces meditating over the Bible itself. No one can outdo the Holy Spirit in His work. I don’t care who the author is, no one can do what the Holy Spirit does as He takes the Word into our hearts and sheds abroad the love of God. There are many times that Satan uses good and great devotional books to keep us away from meditating on the Bible. There are too many people who read more of their devotional books than they read the Bible. Satan loves to keep us in the devotional books and away from the Bible because he knows that the Bible will make us radically God-centered and Christ-like. Satan loves shallow Christians because shallow Christians are no threat to his kingdom. In order to keep making Christians shallow, he keeps us in anything other than the Bible.
    Practical Tip: Only use devotional books to help stir up your heart to get you into the Bible more. Do not settle for a devotional book that gives you one short verse to read but forces you to focus more of your attention on what they have to say. Pick up a devotional book that helps you understand the Bible better. We perish for a lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).

  5. Unbelief in the Bible’s relevance, power, sufficiency, and necessity
    When we think that the Bible is relevant for today, powerful to change us, sufficient for our problems, or necessary for our daily living then Satan has won another battle. He loves to have us think that we can go today without reading our Bible. He works one day at a time to keep you each day away from the Scripture. He wants you to think that the Bible won’t address what you need to hear. He tries to convince you that you aren’t really changing whenever you meditate on God’s Word. He wants to persuade you that you’re fine on your own.
    Practical Tip: 1) Don’t measure your growth in short intervals. Rather, spend time in the Bible each day, studying to know what it is really saying, and after 6 months, 1 year, 5 years reflect on your life. 2) Read biographies of Christians who have been changed by God (Augustine’s Confessions, Jonathan Edwards, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Martin Luther, Susannah Spurgeon, Amy Carmichael) 3) Read good books on biblical counseling that address this issue (such as: The Dynamic Heart: Connecting Christ to Human Experience by Jeremy Pierre, You Can Change by Tim Chester, or Cross Talk: Where Life and Scripture Meet by Michael Emlet)

  6. Mislead you into thinking other things work better
    We often run to other “fixes” to take our minds off of our problems. Some run to exercising (literally, they run their problems away) and some to venting to others (they want to talk their problems away). There are even Christian counselors who try to tell us that we need something “more” than the Bible. There is certainly a big trend in the evangelical world that sees therapy as the answer to inner change. Satan loves to get us to think that anything or anyone is better than the Bible. He wants us to think that if we merely take our minds off of the problem things go away. He often fools us into thinking that counseling (as great and necessary [yes, necessary at times] that biblical counseling is!) is a replacement to ourselves getting in the Bible. He wants to help us feel like we don’t need to the Bible and therefore keeps us from it.
    Practical Tip: Pray that God would show you the amazing power that is in the Bible. Pray that the Holy Spirit would take that Word into your heart to show you the wondrous things that are in His words. Listen to the testimonies of others who have been transformed by the gospel. Test God and His Word for yourself and see if He won’t change you.

  7. Grant self-confidence by thinking you’re fine without it for a day
    This is somewhat of a repeat from earlier but a necessary repeat. Satan loves to get us to think that we’re really OK without the Bible today. He wants us to think that there really isn’t too much going on in our lives for us to have to get in the Bible today. Satan wants us to see the Bible merely as medicine. We only need it if we’re sick. Self-confidence is a killer to our devotional lives.
    Practical Tip: Study the doctrine of total depravity. I mean, really study it. Just spend time and write down 30 reflections on John 15:5 and Ephesians 2:1-2.

  8. Keep you only reading it and never meditating on it and memorizing it
    ”Knowledge of the Word of God will not profit you, unless you frequently listen to it and meditate upon it.” Sound controversial? Well, it’s from the Puritan pastor Walter Marshall in his book The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification which is considered a classic on the subject. Satan loves to keep you merely reading the Bible. Besides, unbelievers read the Bible too. Once again, let me set the record straight once more: The Holy Spirit does use our Bible reading to convert us and sanctify us. But, we shouldn’t be satisfied with only a short and shallow reading of the Bible. What unbelievers don’t do is meditate on it in the power of the Spirit. Christians apply the Bible to their lives and Satan hates it when you do this. He hates it when you apply the gospel of free grace to your sinful life. If you defeat all his other ways, he wants you merely to read the Bible and get on with your day. He doesn’t want you to wrestle with it, apply it, meditate on it, study it, or teach it.
    Practical Tip: Let your Bible reading goal be for thoughtful and slow reading. Ask good questions of the Bible when you read it. Try to summarize what the main point of your reading is and then think about how that main point applies to your life today.

20 Quotes From John Kwasny's New Book

Our very own Dr. John C. Kwasny has released yet another book and this time on counseling teenagers. This is a fabulous book and certainly a must-read for youth workers and parents. Teenagers would also benefit greatly from getting this and reading it themselves. It is a great book to read straight through but also very beneficial as a resource book throughout the years. The structure of the book is laid out to be very accessible as it is divided up into topics. What I wanted to do in this post was give you 20 quotes from John’s new book to entice you to go to Amazon and buy it. Here we go:

  1. “Sadly, many teens are left to themselves during these years, dealing with the temptations and the struggles of their hearts and minds all on their own. Yet, all through the Book of Proverbs, young people are taught to gain wisdom through listening to and obeying their parents and other wise adults. If teenagers are to listen and learn wisdom, then parents and other mature adults are to speak wisdom and live wisely before them!” p. 13

  2. “When foundational views of God and people are faulty or deficient, the counsel that emerges from them will miss the mark as well. If you examine the advice given to teenagers today, including counsel given by some Christians, you will quickly learn that the main problem is that their underlying presuppositions are not Biblical.” p. 22

  3. “Teenagers have bodies and souls that are not fully developed, brains that are still maturing, and body chemistry that is still in flux. To not recognize teens as bodies and souls will keep us from recognizing the influence of their bodies on their souls. But the fundamental error on the other side of the coin is to only see teenagers as a mass of chemicals and hormones!” p. 27

  4. “Biblical change occurs when they learn to destroy the idols of their heart and constantly return to the right worship of God. As God’s Spirit and His Word do their joint work in hearts, change will be reflected on the doing and feeling levels as well.” p. 35

  5. “Biblical counseling is a gospel-driven, Christ-centered series of conversations between parent and child, counselor and counselee, leader and student. It is the essential work of relational dialogue that seeks true Biblical change, growth in grace, repentance and faith, knowledge and wisdom.” p. 37

  6. “So when teens are struggling with diverse problems, they need Biblical truth from the lips of their parents. They require the proper application of Scripture to their problems. They need parents who teach Biblical wisdom as well as ones who are living wisely in front of them.” p. 55

  7. “The starting point for just about any problem is for a person to actually acknowledge there is a problem.” p. 73

  8. “Don’t confront your teen’s anger with your own anger. Do show true compassion for the pain the teen is experiencing. Don’t excuse all anger as being simply a normal emotion.” p. 82

  9. “To rightly deal with anxiety that is either specific or generalized, the starting place is to recognize that our hearts are easily tempted to worry due to many difficulties in this life. Even that admission is difficult for many teens who act like they everything under control.” p. 89

  10. “When your teenager speaks about being depressed—or is displaying some of the common symptoms—it is essential to step back and get a bigger picture, a better view, of the problem. Why do we need to get the big picture of depression? Because it keeps us from oversimplifying the problem and assuming a singular, universal cause to all types of depression.” p. 106

  11. “As much as it’s vital to deal with heart issues like spiritual slavery and worthless false worship, our teens’ sinful thought patterns must be addressed as well. We literally have to answer the question: ‘What are they thinking?’” p. 131

  12. “Opal needs to see that her love of self has to be confessed and repented of before she can actually look at her body in the right way. This love of self is also connected to pride in our hearts, as we think we are entitled to be healthy, look good, or be at a certain weight.” p. 147

  13. “Our teens need to be reminded that being cleansed from sin is a fact, whether we feel it or not.” p. 167

  14. “Complete change is never promised to us in this life—of any sinful desire. We will only be fully cleansed of our sin in glory. Whatever the result, the Christian teen who believes the truth of God’s Word doesn’t just wait for desires to change, but works, by the Spirit to combat these thoughts and feelings—and not act on them.” p. 181

  15. “What teens must deal with is their tendency and temptation to love themselves more than they love God or other people. So, while Angie may be extremely self-critical when it comes to certain aspects of her body, this is really out of a deep love and concern for self.” p. 197

  16. “Pornography offers a place of escape—a way to sinfully engage imaginations—that seems to have no penalty involved. Rescuing our teens from the land of fantasy is a big part of solving the porn problem. We must keep them grounded in the real life that God has created for them, even when that reality is difficult or frustrating.” p. 209

  17. “How do we counsel a teenager with [the hook-up culture mentality] and overall pattern of behavior? The first question which needs to be asked: Is he even a Christian? It is extremely difficult to rationalize how sexual conquest with various partners is compatible with a love for Jesus.” p. 227

  18. “Teenagers rebel because they have rebellious hearts. They are not anomalies among a planet full of good, decent, moral people. This truth may not be comforting, but it is essential when we are addressing the problem of rebellion.” p. 239

  19. “Often times teenagers are rebelling partly because they are longing for the love and attention of their parents. That may sound overly simplistic, but even teenagers can behave in ways simply to get attention—even if it is purely negative attention.” p. 244

  20. “If joy only comes in the context of entertainment media, then everything else will become boring and lifeless. Even worse for the teen’s heart and mind, entertainment media can become the sole way to escape from the pain and suffering in this life. Keeping a God-centered holiness is what we desire to see in our teens as they grow up. Managing the impact of technology and media is an essential part of the sanctifying process.” p. 298

10 Reasons Why You Can Trust That The Bible Is God's Word

In our “What Is Calvinism?” Sunday School class this past Sunday, we looked at the doctrine of Scripture along with the Holy Spirit’s role in using Scripture in the Church and Christian’s life. Towards the end of the class, I quickly mentioned 10 ways Calvin brings up about why we can trust that Scripture really is God’s Word. Here are the ten with some brief explanation:

  1. Scripture is superior to all human wisdom
    Calvin says, “What wonderful confirmation ensues when, with keener study, we ponder the economy of the divine wisdom, so well ordered and disposed; the completely heavenly character of its doctrine, savoring of nothing earthly; the beautiful agreement of all the parts with one another—as well as such other qualities as can gain majesty for the writings. But our hearts are more firmly grounded when we reflect that we are captivated with admiration for Scripture more by grandeur of subjects than by grace of language.”

  2. Not style but content is decisive
    Even though there is, as Calvin says, “an elegant and clear, even brilliant, manner of speaking, so that their eloquence yields nothing to secular writers” it is not the style of Scripture that captivates us so much as the content. What Scripture says is what gives more of a testimony to the Bible being God’s Word than anything else. Scripture is “clearly crammed with thoughts that could not be humanly conceived” says Calvin.

  3. The age of Scripture
    This has often been a very helpful argument for believers to be more convinced and for unbelievers to begin to see the truth of Scripture. The “great antiquity” of Scripture far outstrips all other writings. The fact that Scripture has been around for so long and through so much persecution should give divine testimony to men and women that only God could preserve such a Book. Not only that but if God were speaking from the beginning of time then He certainly would’ve have had His words recorded by men in order to preserve the truth. Why should it surprise us that the God who spoke thousands of years ago made sure that people wrote it down and kept it alive for us today? Isn’t that a sign that He loves us? When we say that Scripture is outdated then we not only call God outdated but we also doubt His love for us since He could not give us relevant truth for today.

  4. The truthfulness of Scripture seen in men proclaiming their own faults
    The Bible does not hide the shame and sin of its “own” people. The Bible, more than any other book and religion, shows the depravity of man and the sinfulness of sin. Why would men write so much of their own sinfulness and shame for all to read throughout history if they were making up their own religion? Certainly, the Bible shows not only the sin of unbelievers but also of believers. All stand in need of Christ and His grace and this is the testimony of Scripture from beginning to end.

  5. Miracles authorizing God’s messengers
    The Bible is a record of eyewitness accounts. The miracles that are recorded in the Bible did not happen behind closed doors for only the writers to see. Rather, the miracles were before the public eye and many gave testimony to them and then they were written down to be remembered. Take the gospel according to Mark, Mark is all about the eyewitness account of Jesus in which there are details that only people who were there could give. In Mark 4:35-41, Jesus is said to have fallen asleep on the cushion in the boat. There is no need for that comment to be there except for the fact to show that the person who saw Jesus calm the stormy sea was actually there and remembers everything.

  6. The amount of prophecies that have come true (All of them!)
    There have been some calculations of over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament that refer to Jesus coming as the Messiah. How many of them have come true? All of them. On the contrary, can you predict one thing that will happen fifty years from now? How do you know that will happen?

  7. The preservation of the Law and Prophets
    Calvin says, “But even though all wicked men, as if conspiring together, have so shamelessly insulted the Jews, no one has ever dared charge them with substituting false books. For whatever, in their opinion, the Jewish religion may be, they confess Moses to be its author.” God has preserved His Word from the worst tyrants and persecutions in history.

  8. Simplicity and heavenly character
    The content of Bible is so simple than anyone who can read may understand it but it is also so heavenly that anyone who reads is confronted with a “heavenly character”. Calvin comments that “the truth cries out openly that these men who, previously contemptible among common folk, suddenly began to discourse so gloriously of the heavenly mysteries must have been instructed by the Spirit.”

  9. Unvarying testimony of the church to Scripture
    Although it is the Holy Spirit and not the Church who testifies that Scripture is God’s Word, nevertheless, the Church has throughout the centuries been unified in their recognition that the canon of Scripture is God’s Word. No matter what age, people, or culture, there has been a unity in the true Church that the Bible we have today is God’s Word.

  10. Martyrs who died
    Why would men and women die for a book that weren’t true? If they made it all up, why would someone choose to be burned alive as William Tyndale was? Even under the worst torture, why didn’t anyone just say, “You’re right! We came up with it ourselves!” These people would’ve had everything to lose by their deaths if the Bible was not God’s Word. But, if the Bible is God’s Word then they had everything to gain by their deaths if they died holding onto their confession of Jesus Christ as proclaimed in the Holy Scripture.

2 Resources That Have Changed My Devotions

Is it hard for you to “get anything” out of your devotions? Is it frustrating to understand the Bible? Is it difficult for you to apply the Bible for your life today? Why is it often difficult to set aside time for our devotions? For many of us, the lack of familiarity with what the Bible says and realization of how the Bible applies to us is often what hinders us from growing in our devotional lives.

There have been various seasons of life where I have come across a resource that has greatly aided me in studying the Bible during my morning devotions. I remember my mother purchasing for me a copy of Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the whole Bible that I began to eat up during my college years. I remember coming across the commentary series called “God’s Word for You” (whose writers are Tim Keller, Tim Chester, Steven Lawson, Al Mohler, and others). I also have recently come across my new favorite commentary series from Banner of Truth called “Let’s Study” (whose writers are Sinclair Ferguson, Derek Thomas, Derek Prime, Mark Johnston, Iain Hamilton, Dennis Johnson, and others) which seems to be a perfect portion of reading for morning devotions. All of these resources have greatly helped me grow not merely in a knowledge of the Scriptures but in a devotional heart for the truth of Scripture while seeing it applied to real life.

If you’re anything like me, you often go through different phases of using different resources to aid your devotional studies. For much of my years since being a Christian, I have done more study of Scripture focusing on shorter sections at a time. I have not done so well of a job about reading bigger portions alongside that. Recently, the iPhone app “Read Scripture” from The Bible Project has helped me do just that. It has been the best big portion Bible reading structure for me. Other people have found better use out of other structures but for several reasons the “Read Scripture” app has worked well for me. It is easy to access and helpful to go at one’s own pace. The short video overviews of each book and some of the biblical themes in Scripture also help me to “see” the truth of Scripture better.

But, there is often a lingering thought that I have after reading massive portions of the text. How am I supposed to sink this reading into my heart more effectively? The last thing that we should want from a Bible reading plan is to get in the habit of merely completing the reading and checking off the section. Our Bible reading must go from head to heart. This leads me to the second resource that I recently discovered at the RTS Jackson bookstore that has become one of those studies that has changed my devotions.

Reformation Heritage Books has produced one of the best and most unique resources out there called the “Family Worship Bible Guide”. If I am honest, the title makes the resource sound more limiting than what it really is. This resource is an aid to applying the Bible to our lives. In very short reflections, with only 1 to 3 reflections per chapter in the Bible, the writers show what the point of the chapter is and how it affects our lives today. It is way more than merely a family worship guide, although certainly a phenomenal resource for family worship, but it is also a great resource for your own personal Bible study.

The Family Worship Bible Guide seeks to show how the teaching of Scripture changes your life. What it is trying to do is to show how the Bible reaches out and grabs the realities of life today. It has been a great way for the big chunks of Bible reading to sink into my heart more on a daily basis. For example, here is what you would read if your devotional reading this morning was on John 1:

1. When John called Jesus “the Word,” he implied that Christ not only brings us a message from God but is Himself the Message. Jesus is God in the flesh, the infinite glory and grace of the Father dwelling among men in the tabernacle of a human body. Therefore, to believe in Christ is much more than trusting Him to teach us or help us; saving faith is receiving Him as our God, our very life. What difference does it make to the Christian faith that Christ is God?

2. John the Baptist shows us that a preacher’s calling is to point away from himself to Christ and to lift the Savior high before men’s eyes. A minister can do this only by having a low view of himself and a high view of Christ. A Christ-centered ministry is particularly a cross-centered ministry, focusing regularly (though not exclusively) on Christ’s death as the Lamb of God. How can you pray for your ministers that they would be more like John in this manner?

3. To find Christ is the most wonderful discovery of all. It is too good to be kept to oneself. How can you become more like these early disciples who eagerly told their family and friends about Jesus?

Ed. Joel R. Beeke, Family Worship Bible Guide (Reformation Heritage Books: Grand Rapids, MI 2016), p. 718

That is one of the longer portions of what you would read for one chapter. Most are one to two insights for each chapter. It is a small book and easy to carry around with you anywhere you go (it is like a small Bible). It is also very reasonably priced considering what you would get from it (only $14-17 depending on where you look). In my opinion, it has been one of the best resources I have ever bought and certainly one that will aid in my devotions, sermon prep, counseling, blogging, and Sunday school. I would highly encourage you to consider using this resource for personal and/or family devotions.

Tips for Reading the Bible

Every Spring semester, our youth ministry puts on a reading challenge in which the entire group is divided up into teams where they compete against each other by seeing who can read the most. The winners come away with some sort of prize (and obviously immortal glory!). In years past, we have mixed it up with reading all kinds of books but this year we are focusing merely on reading the Bible. One of the categories of Christian experience that middle schoolers and high schoolers need to grow in is in their reading of the Bible (especially in a biblically illiterate age). One of the encouragements that I wanted to give our students were some tips for how to read the Bible. I thought that this might be helpful for even ages beyond the youth ministry. So, here are 23 tips for reading the Bible:

  1. Get you a hard copy Bible that you will make “your” Bible.

  2. Think about getting a “Journaling Bible” from Crossway in order to write down your reflections on the side.

  3. Download the “Read Scripture” app and follow its Bible reading plan. It’s free!

  4. Remember where each book of the Bible is in the entire story when you are reading it. (Ex: It is helpful to know that Daniel was written during Israel’s period in exile. Or, it is helpful to know that Esther is towards the very end of the Old Testament time period even though it’s not placed at the end of the Old Testament books.)

  5. Choose a book that your passionate about reading and start there.

  6. Read the introductory notes of the book before starting (if your Bible has those).

  7. Read all of the Bible in order to understand the books better.

  8. Ask these questions:

    1. What does this say about God?

    2. What does this say about us?

    3. What does this say about our need for Jesus?

    4. What does this about how we are to live?

  9. Read John Perritt’s booklet “Bible 101” to understand better how the Bible works.

  10. Don’t just think about what the Bible is saying but think about why God wants you to know this.

  11. Talk about what you read with someone else.

  12. Use helpful resources to go alongside your reading, such as:

    1. “God’s Word for You” series

    2. “Let’s Study” series

    3. Matthew Henry’s Commentary (easy to read!)

  13. Set aside time in the morning, afternoon, or evening that you protect and prioritize.

  14. Turn your phone over and the TV/computer off.

  15. Pray before you read and ask God to open your eyes to see what’s really there and to hear what He is saying.

  16. Pray afterward and ask God to sink this truth into your heart.

  17. If it is in the morning, grab your coffee to help you wake up.

  18. Set aside 15-20 minutes of undistracted focus.

  19. The more you read, the more it’ll make sense and the more you’ll want to read more.

  20. Use a Study Bible and read the notes at the bottom to help you understand what the text is saying. Try these Study Bibles:

    1. ESV Study Bible

    2. Reformation Study Bible

    3. Biblical Theology Study Bible

    4. Gospel Transformation Study Bible

  21. Read other good Christian books in order to understand the Bible better.

  22. Practice what you read.

  23. Don’t rush through your reading. Think about it.