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Is not reading the Bible a sin?

A super simplified definition of sin is anything that "falls short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Sin causes us to feel shame because we are in violation of God's commands. But sin isn't always a clear-cut list of things "not to do." Sin is a heart condition that affects our motivations, thoughts, and actions. We can do the "right thing" with the wrong intent and still be sinning.

Reading the Bible is an important way to connect with and learn more about God. 2 Timothy 3:16 (NLT) tells us that "all Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right." Psalm 119:11 says, "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." The Bible encourages us to be familiar with God's Word so that we can fully understand His truth—especially if someone asks us about it (2 Timothy 2:15; 1 Peter 3:15).

Scripture is how we learn what God loves and hates, how He interacts with those He loves, and more about the majestic character of God overall. For many believers, these reasons alone are enough to drive them to reading the Bible regularly. They hunger for more knowledge and understanding of who God is. But reading the Bible isn't always "easy" for everyone.

The Sin is in Our Motives

There can be many reasons why someone might choose not to read the Bible. They get too busy or think that it isn't important. Maybe they're just not interested. Maybe they're recovering from (or still suffering from) spiritually abusive situations where even reading certain translations of the Bible can set off anxiety, panic attacks, or other symptoms of PTSD.

We need the Bible to help us know God better and grow our faith. That is a simple fact. And if we're convicted that we should be reading the Bible more and we don't, then yes, we're in sin (1 Thessalonians 5:19). If we're reading the Bible as a way to "earn" our salvation through doing "all the right things," then that is also sin. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." We can't earn our salvation by anything we DO, and trying to "earn" favor with God—even by doing good things like reading the Bible—is prideful (James 4:6).

Reading the Bible isn't about checking a box on our "Good Christian" card. It's not about being able to say, "I spent 10, 15, or 30 minutes reading every day." It's not about blindly reciting verses that we've memorized. It's about spending time with the Creator of the Universe, learning at His side, and basking in His glorious character and story.

Why the Bible is Important

The Bible is a gift from God for our own spiritual growth and to learn from God's wisdom (John 17:17). When we approach the Bible, we should be aware that God knows all the brightest and darkest parts of our hearts...and He loves us anyway (Romans 5:8). God isn't shaking a stick at you, forcing you to open up a book that intimidates, scares, or bores you. God wants to spend time with you there, wants you to learn from Him there, and wants you to gain wisdom and grow your faith through His Word.

The Bible is completely worthy of our time, energy, and attention. We should always seek God above all else (Matthew 6:33), and reading the Bible is a vital way we get to know His character better, know what His will looks like, and know what He truly asks of us as His children.

Oftentimes, a lack of interest in reading the Bible or getting to know God likely stems from a lack of understanding about who He is to begin with. Those raised in spiritually abusive environments may be convinced that God doesn't understand them, that He doesn't care about their heart, or that He's a tyrant who only wants to punish and hurt. But that is not the God of the Bible (2 Peter 3:9).

If this describes you, let me share something really awesome: The Bible actually addresses our disinterest (Ecclesiastes) and heartbreak (Psalm 13) and calls out those abusive leaders (Matthew 7:15). God does care, and He does understand. Spending time within the words of the Bible can help us truly understand how deeply loved we are through the whole character of God.

By reading the Word of God, you will be able to fight against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:1-11), defend your faith (1 Peter 3:15), and work through life's challenges and struggles in a way that assures you are definitely not alone (Romans 5:3-5; James 1:12).

How to Get Started

If you're not feeling completely on fire to start reading God's Word, that's OK. It takes time and intention to start something new! Here are a few tips for you, depending on your situation.

For the uninterested: Try picking up a devotional or a Bible reading plan. The Bible contains a shockingly diverse number of stories and characters. If you like history, find a devotional or reading plan that teaches on the context of the Old Testament in the time it was written in. If you're into learning life lessons, focus on the letters to the early churches in the New Testament—from the book of Romans to Jude.

For the busy: Choose a book of the Bible and go through it by reading one verse a day. Try writing the verse on a sticky note in the morning and carrying it with you, taking time during any brief breaks to read it again and meditate upon it (Psalm 1:2). If you have a few extra minutes, look up the context of that verse on BibleRef.com to more thoroughly understand it.

For the spiritually wounded: Many survivors of spiritual abuse find switching to an unfamiliar translation of the Bible helps them distance their association of God from their trauma. Listening to the Bible on audio can also help too. BibleGateway.com and the YouVersion app both have free audio readings of the Bible in different translations. The New Living Translation is a very down-to-earth version—just don't get too caught up on exact words or phrases, as it is a looser translation.

There is no need to rush to read the Bible every day simply to check it off the list or "prove" your dedication to God. Yes, read. Then pause. Take time to listen to what God is saying to you through His Word. The Bible is supposed to help illuminate the path of our spiritual journey through life (Psalm 119:105). When we spend time with God in the Scriptures, we ought to meditate on the meaning and ask God to teach us and guide us (Psalm 119:6-8). By actively reading the Bible, we can learn how to live for God, avoid sinful actions, and grow in our relationship with Him (Psalm 119:11; 1 Peter 2:2).

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TL;DR

Reading the Bible is an important way to connect with and learn more about God (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Timothy 2:15; Psalm 119:11). If we're convicted to read the Bible more, and we don't, that is sin (1 Thessalonians 5:19). If we read the Bible to "earn" our salvation, that is sin (Ephesians 2:8-9). Don't rush to read the Bible every day simply to check it off the list or "prove" your dedication to God. Yes, read. Then pause. Listen to what God says and invite Him to illuminate your path in life (Psalm 119:105). Meditate on the meaning and ask God to teach and guide you (Psalm 119:6-8). Actively reading the Bible helps us learn how to live for God, avoid sinful actions, and grow in our relationship with Him (Psalm 119:11; 1 Peter 2:2).

By: Vivian Bricker

Vivian loves learning, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She is dedicated to helping people learn more about Jesus and is ready to help in any way she can. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, cooking, drawing, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, you can find her soaking up the sunshine or going on an adventure.

By: September Grace

September Grace is an aspiring novelist, book hoarder collector, and movie watcher. She has a black feline floof named Faust, an assortment of plants that seek global domination, and a distinct lack of awareness for where she is at any given moment.

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