How reading the Bible can destroy your soul

We can often use the Bible in ways that stifle spiritual life or even destroy the soul.

Really? Stifle spiritual growth and destroy the soul? That’s the observation made by Richard Foster in Life with God. He points out that the root problem has to do with two common objectives people have for studying the Bible.

The first issue is the practice of studying the Bible for information or knowledge alone. There is much that we can learn from the Bible and learning is a vital part of growing. But knowledge alone tends to make us arrogant.

The second issue is that people often study the Bible to find some formula that will solve the pressing need of the moment. When we go looking for simple formulas we greatly increase the risk of taking Scripture out of context and this can lead to some unhealthy conclusions.

The real danger in these two common ways of approaching the Bible is that they leave us or someone else in charge. They are, in fact, ways of trying to control what comes out of the Bible rather than submitting to the process of transformation that Scripture can accomplish in us. When we approach the Bible from the perspective of whole-life discipleship to Jesus, amazing changes can take place in us.

So how do we approach Scripture in a way that promotes real life change?

READ with an open, focused mind and a surrendered heart. Ask God to help you understand the context (big picture) of what you’re reading and the author’s original intentions.

REFLECT on what you’re reading. Pause to reread portions of it and let it soak in. If something really speaks to your heart highlight it or make a note. If something raises a question jot it down to explore later.

RESPOND to what you’ve read. Is there an action to take or an attitude to adjust? Is there a sin to confess or a praise to offer God? Prayerfully invite the Holy Spirit to continue speaking to you from what you’ve read.

Use a small notebook to record your daily reading, reflecting and responding. This is a great way to review your journey with God through Scripture and can be an encouragement when times get tough.


If you’re sharing our journey through The Story then read chapter one in it and The Heart of the Story. If you’re just hearing about The Story and want to know more click on the page tab above.


Filed under Bible, Holy Spirit, Morphing, Prayer, Reflection, Scripture, Surrender, The Story

11 responses to “How reading the Bible can destroy your soul

  1. “Read, Reflect, Respond” This really is a great and simple to remember approach toward Scripture. Writing this inside the cover of my Bible, friend. Thanks

  2. julie

    I agree with mtsweat, these are great….READ, REFLECT, RESPOND!!!

  3. Might I suggest a third possibility?
    I think we sometimes, particularly in the Evangelical church, study the Bible as a means of avoiding other aspects of our spiritual life, avoiding God, and avoiding the parts of ourselves that we don’t want to deal with. I think this is most of the time done without realizing we’re doing it. We’re so habituated that this is what we’re supposed to do that we don’t consider whether the Spirit might be calling us to doing something different or a different way of looking at the Bible for that particular reading. Other times, we don’t really know what other options there are (the Evangelical church isn’t always so good at making ways beyond reading your Bible and petitionary prayer known as options for time with God). And sometimes, we just loathe so much to recognize and acknowledge what’s going on in our hearts that we put it out of our minds and use things to distract us from it, even things like reading the Word.

    Instead of doing what the Spirit is inviting us into, we open our Bibles. Not that reading Scripture is a bad thing! But a good thing can sometimes be a distraction from a better thing. Perhaps in such circumstances God is calling us to talk to Him about something or talk to someone else about something (Matthew 5:23-4 and all that, right?) or go do something or maybe even just be still and listen a while.

    What do you think?

    • Hey Matthew! I whole-heartedly agree! I think this is one of the things that can happen when we study the Bible for “knowledge alone”. As you say, it can become an escape. What you describe is what I was speaking of by coming to Scripture with a whole-life discipleship mentality – but you expressed it much better! And I very much agree that transformation, in general, can take place everywhere, all the time and can involve many activities – even those not thought of as “traditional approaches.” Thanks for stopping by and for contributing to the dialogue!

  4. Very practical. Thanks again.

  5. Leslie

    Practical & much needed. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Pingback: Reading Gods Word | Christians Under Construction

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