Why do you think God gave us the Bible? Why did he go to the effort of having his message written down by a large number of authors over 1500 years? What was his ultimate purpose?
Was it so that we would know the truth? It goes without saying that if we are to learn anything from God, we must first receive the relevant information and details. Acquiring facts and insights is vital in any field.
I’m incredibly grateful for the year I spent at Moody Bible Institute, where I gained a treasure-trove of Biblical knowledge. But on the other hand, I have met people who know the Scripture better than I ever will and could probably recite it forward and backward in Greek and Hebrew. And yet, they don’t even believe in a Creator.
The reason God revealed his Word to us is a simple one: to change our hearts. Unless we allow the Bible to mold and impact us – no matter how much we read – we study in vain. We could know every verse by heart and the historical context of each book and letter, but without applying what it says, our knowledge is ultimately useless.
There are numerous verses on the connection between the Bible and the human heart. God promises to “write it (the Word) on their hearts” (Jer 31:33). The reader is encouraged to engrave the divine teachings “on the tablet of your heart” (Pro 7:3). We are told that the Bible “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb 4:12).
What do I mean by the term “heart?” In the Biblical sense, it refers to the seat of the will, intellect, and feelings. We could call it the “headquarters” of our thoughts, decisions, conscience, and emotions. It is the ruling center of who we are. Consequently, we follow the way of our hearts.
Every single one of us is prone to resisting the Bible’s influence on our hearts, regardless of how much of it we’ve read. How do I know? Because I see this tendency in me, and I’ve been studying God’s Word for almost as long as I can read (I won’t admit to how many years that’s been). I don’t think I’m an exception. No matter where we are on our spiritual journey, whether at the beginning or the end, letting the Bible mold our hearts is always a challenge.
So how do we do it? It all comes down to our attitudes and choices. Do we read the Bible for information purposes only, or do we continually ask the Holy Spirit to show us those truths that we need to apply? And then do them! Acknowledging that something is true or that we need to change is an excellent first step, but it isn’t enough. Unless we practice what we learn and allow it to mold and shape us, it stays in the category of “information only.”
You could say that we need to let God’s Word “marinate” our hearts. We should become so permeated by Scripture that we take on its characteristics. Food that has been marinated changes its flavor and smell, and this is what God wants to do with us (in the spiritual sense, of course). However, this process can only happen with our consent.
One final thought. Why is it so important to let the Bible change our hearts? Does God want to control us? Does he want to rip away all the fun from our lives? Hardly! His strategy is to defeat evil, or more precisely, to help us conquer the less noble part of our nature. If we’re honest, we will all admit to having thoughts and actions that are wrong, which is why we so desperately need God’s Word to do its cleansing work in our hearts.