What’s So Good about the Good Book
by Sherri Langton
Internet, CD-ROMs, PowerPoint, e-mail. In our high-tech society, who needs a book with characters traveling by foot and drawing water from wells?
Actually, we all do. Time was when most people pretty much knew God because they read about Him in the Bible. And they took seriously the truth they read. It shaped their thinking politically and socially; it influenced their legal and educational systems; it permeated their writing and art.
Today is different, however. Though the Bible continues strong as the world’s bestseller, it isn’t welcomed into our public or private lives. We’re not living by the Bible’s truths.
With the problems in the world today — abuse, sinking morality, fear — we don’t need another piece of good literature. We need a God-breathed book that tells us the way out of our mess of sin and influences the way we act and think. To get to this point, we need to make the Bible a part of our everyday lives and to take its truths seriously. In other words, we need to do what Jesus Christ himself did.
Dialogue with the Devil
One of the biographers of Jesus, Matthew, tells of a face-to-face conversation between Jesus and the Devil. It was an attempt by the Devil to throw Jesus off balance.
“If you are the Son of God,” Satan began, “tell these stones to become bread” (Matthew 4:3).
Jesus had just completed forty days of fasting in the wilderness; He was starving! What a great opportunity for Him to zap a rock into a loaf of bread.
Jesus had several choices at this point. He could have debated the Devil — and won. Jesus could have reminded Satan that He was the Son of God and didn’t have time to talk to him. Jesus could have flipped to the last page of history and shown Satan his grim future (see Revelation 20:7-10).
But He didn’t do that.
Or Jesus could have dropped to His knees on the spot and prayed, “Father, what do I say?” He could have headed to the hills and spent a night in prayer.
But He didn’t do that either.
There was no CNN to tune into, no Newsweek with a cover story on Satan and his tactics, no e-mail alert that something weird was going on — just the Scripture. Its truths revealed Satan’s lies.
Three times, the first words out of Jesus’ mouth were ammunition from the Good Book. Fire one: “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God'” (v. 4).
Satan didn’t give up, of course. But neither did Jesus.
Then the devil took him to the holy city [Jerusalem] and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone'” (vv. 5, 6).
Fire two from Jesus: “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test'” (v. 7).
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me” (vv. 8, 9).
Fire three: “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only'” (v. 10).
Jesus didn’t argue with the Devil; He didn’t quote the great philosophers of the day. That should tell us something: that Jesus not only read the Scriptures but also meditated on them constantly. As Psalm 1:1, 2 says: “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”
Something happens when we meditate on the Bible: It molds our thinking and affects our speech. Whatever we think about all the time comes out of our mouths. And if we meditate on the Bible, we will speak the Bible.
Jesus also believed in the authority of Scripture; He took its truth seriously. Notice in Matthew 4:6 that Satan actually quoted Scripture to Jesus. He twisted Psalm 91:11, 12 so Jesus would throw Himself off the highest point of the temple.
Satan’s memorization of Scripture was nearly perfect, but his interpretation was way off — and Jesus caught it. He knew Psalm 91 and that the man who dwells in the shadow of the Almighty, trusting in Him as his refuge, doesn’t put God to the test.
This account of Jesus and His confrontation with Satan isn’t in the Bible to fill up space. It is setting a precedent for us. How can we follow Christ’s example?
Read the Bible daily
We can begin by reading the Bible every day. But, frankly, that’s hard to do. We have meetings to attend and business trips to take and kids to shuttle. Regular Bible reading could mean sacrificing extra sleep, a TV program, a workout at the club, or an early jump on the workday.
But if we don’t carve out even a little time in the Bible each day, we won’t know God’s thinking on questions and problems that arise. And we’ll open ourselves up for any logical explanation or action that can work toward our undoing.
Take biblical truth seriously
When you think about it, though, anyone can read the Bible faithfully. The real challenge is to take biblical truth seriously and not add anything to or delete anything from it.
This is especially important today because many people believe that truth is relative. In their thinking, morality is a matter of one’s perspective; absolutes aren’t absolute anymore.
There’s a smorgasbord of truths at our spiritual fingertips; we just pick one to meet our needs. The question is not whether something’s true but whether it makes us feel good.
But here is the danger: If there is no truth in this world, then how can we know a lie? If there are no absolutes, then what is right and wrong? This way of thinking has led us into a wilderness of our own, with Satan trying to deceive us. He has tempted us with abortion, euthanasia, and physician-assisted suicide. We should fire back, “It is written: ‘You shall not murder'” (Exodus 20:13. But we’re not so sure we’re really murdering.
Satan has tempted us into thinking that the church is old-fashioned, irrelevant, optional. We should fire back, “It is written: ‘Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching'” (Hebrews 10:25). But we tend to agree with Satan.
Satan has also lured us into thinking we should be tolerant of divergent lifestyles. While gay-bashing isn’t biblical (Matthew 22:39), neither is condoning the sin of homosexuality. We should fire back with the words Jesus spoke to the prostitute: “Neither do I condemn you. . . . Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11).
The Bible is old, but not outdated. It is the Good Book for our lives that shows us the truth about who we are and what God has done for us through Jesus. When we welcome it publicly and privately, it will influence us powerfully.
Scripture quotations were taken from the New International Version, unless otherwise noted.