I want to know God. I want to know his nature and his thoughts. It is this desire that drives me to read his Word and books about him by writers who know his Word far better than I. What could possibly be more wonderful, as wonderful, or even remotely wonderful compared to the knowledge of the eternal, infinite, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God who is the source of all things, the epitome of holiness, righteousness, and justice? The answer is obvious: nothing compares. The greatest creations of the human imagination fade into utter insignificance in the glorious light of the ineffable perfections of almighty God.
Why is it, then, that reading God’s Word becomes, at times, a chore to be done rather than a pleasure to be savored? I’m sure I can’t answer that question exhaustively, but I think I know at least part of the answer, and probably the greatest, most insidious part.
Many would put the blame on Satan. Of course, the prince of darkness does not want me exposed to the light. Of course he wants to deceive me, and will do all he can to keep me from God and his Word. But I cannot shift the blame, not even to the father of lies. If God had destroyed Satan immediately after he deceived Adam, my worst enemy would still be right here with me. That enemy is me.
I want to know God, I say again. I want to know him in all his glory. Yet there is a part of me that most definitely does not want to know him: my flesh. My flesh assiduously avoids all knowledge of God. Why? Because knowledge makes demands. My flesh does not like demands. Oh, it likes to make demands. It makes demands on people, on things, on circumstances, and even on God, but it hates demands made on me.
What demands does the knowledge of God make? Knowledge of his holiness demands that I be holy. Knowledge of his sovereign lordship, of his ownership of all creation, including me, demands that I submit to his commands. Knowledge of his love demands that I love him and all that he loves.
The knowledge of God does more than make demands. Just as a light shining into a dark corner reveals the dirt left unseen in the darkness, the light of God’s holiness exposes the filth in my heart. It discloses my unholiness, my intractability, my unloving selfishness. The knowledge of God leads to knowledge of self-knowledge I would rather ignore.
So now, in addition to knowledge of God, I have knowledge of self. This is not a pleasant combination. Knowledge of God brings demands. Knowledge of self, of who I really am, crushes any hope that I can meet those demands. This brings with it yet another demand—that I be humble.
But I am not humble. I am proud and independent. If I was humble, the logical thing to do at this point would be to acknowledge my helplessness, rest on God’s promises, and pray for grace. But very often, my reaction is anything but humble. Rather than praying, I resolve to do better. I will try harder. Can you believe it? I retreat to my own self-sufficiency! The very self-sufficiency that has already been destroyed!
And that is exactly where I would be left, if not for the gracious, electing work of God; if not for the sacrificial redeeming work of Christ; if not for the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. God takes a man who is unholy, unrighteous, unloving, whose knowledge of myself causes me to cringe from the knowledge of God, and gently, lovingly, draws me back into a place where I can say, with all my heart, I want to know God.