Bible Reading That Satan Leaves Alone
- John Piper Desiring God
- 2017 11 May
The Blinding Enemy Outside
Satan is real.
His main identity is “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). His way of lying is more by deception than bold-face falsehoods. He “is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world” (Rev. 12:9). Therefore, he hates “the Spirit of truth” (John 15:26). He hates God the Father from whom the Spirit proceeds (John 15:26). He hates the Son of God, who is truth (John 14:6). And he hates the word of God because God’s “word is truth” (John 17:17).
Therefore, he will do his best to take away the word, if he can, and twist it, if he can’t—the way he did in the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:1) and in the temptations of Jesus (Matt. 4:6). Jesus described how Satan takes away the word: “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart” (Matt. 13:19). How does that happen? It might be by sheer forgetfulness. Or Satan may draw a person from Bible reading to an entertaining video, with the result that any thought of Christ’s worth and beauty is quickly lost in the flash of fire and skin.
Or Satan may simply blind the mind to the worth and beauty of Christ, which the Scriptures reveal. This is what Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4:
Even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
“The god of this world” is Satan. He is called “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30), and John says that “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). It is this enormous blinding power that puts us in need of a supernatural deliverer. The thought that we could overcome this satanic force on our own is naïve.
No Opening of the Eyes without Divine Power
When the risen Christ sent Paul “to open their [the Gentiles] eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18), he did not mean that Paul could do this in human strength. Paul made that clear: “My speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:4-5). That is what it takes to overcome the blinding effects of Satan.
Let it not be missed that the specific focus of Satan’s blinding work is the gospel. That is, his focus is on our reading—or hearing—the heart of the message of the Christian Scriptures. Satan “has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” Satan would be happy for people to believe ten thousand true facts, as long as they are blind to “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” Let them make A’s on a hundred Bible-fact quizzes as long as they can’t see the glory of Christ in the gospel—that is, as long as they can’t read (or listen) with the ability to see what is really there.
Bible Reading That Satan Leaves Alone
So Jesus (Matt. 13:19), Paul (2 Cor. 4:3-4), and John (1 John 5:19) warn that Satan is a great enemy of Bible reading that sees what is really there. Bible reading that only collects facts, or relieves a guilty conscience, or gathers doctrinal arguments, or titillates aesthetic literary tastes, or feeds historical curiosities—this kind of Bible reading Satan is perfectly happy to leave alone. He has already won the battle.
But reading that hopes to see the supreme worth and beauty of God—reading that aims to be satisfied with all that God is for us in Christ, reading that seeks to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8)—this reading Satan will oppose with all his might. And his might is supernatural. Therefore, any reading that hopes to overcome his blinding power will be a supernatural reading.
John Piper (DTheol, University of Munich) is the founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and the chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He served for thirty-three years as the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is the author of more than fifty books.
Image courtesy: Unsplash.com
Publication date: May 11, 2017