The book of James says that the Bible is intended to be a mirror, and Hebrews treats the Bible as a blade sharp enough to do surgery on the soul. When believers come to hear the Word of God, we ought to come in humble submission. We ought to come with an attitude ready to see our faults in the mirror and be ready to change, or to submit our soul to the knife of God to cut out sinful attitudes and actions that remain in us even though we believe. However, sometimes we come to the Scriptures with the wrong attitudes. What do I mean? If we come to the Scripture to hear a condemnation of “those people out there,” we are not drawing near to hear from God for ourselves. Instead, we sit in self-righteousness waiting for the Bible to confirm what we already believe.
Does the Bible ever prick your conscience? Does the Bible ever challenge the way you think? It should. If it doesn’t, you must not be listening. The Bible isn’t meant to merely confirm what we already believe. It is meant to radically change our lives. It is the means God uses to conform our minds to the mind of Christ.
Let me take Psalm 14:1a as a case in point. It says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” The kind of self-righteous Bible reading that I’m talking about reads or hears this verse and immediately thinks of an atheist. In self-righteous smugness, we point our finger to those on the “outside” and say, “look at them, aren’t they foolish? Look, the Bible even says it.” We sit back in our smugness and think this verse is not talking about us—it is about “them.”
I do not believe this is the attitude that a believer should take to a passage like that. Rather, let’s look at it again. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Are there ever times when we Christians act like a fool? If we are honest with ourselves, we have to say yes. In fact, I would say that any time that a believer sins, we play the part of the fool. With that in mind, what we should hear from God here is that when we give in to sinful temptations, we are listening to a little voice within our hearts that says, “there is no God.” We tell ourselves, “no one will know,” or “it isn’t hurting anyone,” but we forget that God sees all that we do.
If God were physically present, in the room with us, in the moment when we are tempted to, tell “a little white lie,” type something we shouldn’t into an internet search bar, or say some unkind thing to our spouse or children, wouldn’t we think twice? Instead, we forget that God is omniscient and omnipresent, we suppress the knowledge of the God we claim to believe in, and we indulge in sins that we dismiss because we don’t get caught.
I don’t believe that Christians attain moral perfection in this life. That must wait for the life to come and “the redemption of our bodies.” In this age, we live with a “cognitive dissonance” in which to some extent we all know that there are areas where we don’t approve of our own actions. While each believer continues to wait for that day, we struggle and stumble along—knowing that His grace is sufficient. When that moment of temptation next comes for you remember this. Don’t believe the lie that whispers in your ear telling you that “there is no God.” Nothing escapes his gaze, and he is there and present with you for you to cry out to for help.