“All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim 3:16-17
The missionary John Reider, who spent 35 years in the Ivory Coast and another 30 years in Mound City Kansas working a retreat camp, told me this once. He said, “You cannot know God until you live with Him in the word.” Now, if any of you know John, he lives in the word. Several years ago, we took some youth down to Mound City, to Shalom, to help with repairs and such. We asked John, who is in his nineties now, to speak to us one night. He talked for an hour and a half from the Scriptures without cracking open his bible; he had that much committed to memory. I like to think of him as the modern day Enoch from Genesis 5:24. “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”
I have said not just a few times that we ought to be getting know our bridegroom while we await His return. I don’t know about you but I find it hard to get to know someone if I’m not with them or talking with them somehow. Now I may not be the greatest conversationalist in the world and in fact I’m horrible just because of my personality, but I still try. I recently acquired a pair of in-laws, one that I was fairly close to already and the other one not as much. I very easily could have thought “meh, one out of two isn’t that bad” and not taken the effort to get to know them on some level, citing this difficulty as an excuse. But we would never do that.
Yet we do that with God all the time. Studying the Bible is hard; setting aside the time is difficult. The piercing edge of God’s holy Word cuts deep, (Heb 4:12) sometimes it hurts. So instead of engaging the Word as we’re encouraged to, we shy away from it; we let our pastors and Sunday school teachers engage Him and tell us what He said. We, like the Israelites in Exodus 34:29-35, put a veil between us and God so that our hearts are shrouded and we cannot be molded into Christ’s image.
Deut 6:6-9-> 6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Psalm 119 is full of verses talking about the Law of God. It’s a chapter, though long, that I’d suggest reading. Verse 105 says “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Verse 11: “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” A personal favorite for me is in Jeremiah 15:16 “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart. If you are in the Word enough, Jeremiah 20:9 becomes true of you. “Your Word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones. I was weary of holding it back and indeed I could not.”
I have found that it is easier to not sin in my actions, thoughts and attitudes when I have been reading the Bible that day. When I don’t have that daily immersion and washing, I can easily forget God and try to take control again, trying things in my own strength. Indeed, In the Word is the cure, being refined by your Friend so that His likes and dislikes become yours and His attitudes and thoughts become yours.