Devotions

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.

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.