1. Your flesh doesn’t want you to know how important reading and hearing the Word is to mortification.
If you’ve been led astray by the misconception that the Word contributes nothing to the war against your flesh, you’re exactly where it wants you. As long as you view the Word of God as an optional part of the Christian life, your flesh can rest easy knowing that you’ve neglected one of the primary weapons God has given you to fight against it. The Word is the “sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17b); it is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16b); but your flesh can’t have you coming to grips with that.
2. Your flesh doesn’t want you to know how the Word reveals sin.
When we open the Scriptures, we are confronted with the perfect requirements of the law of God. We see the beautiful and holy character of our God, and it shines a spotlight into the wicked depths of our hearts. Our most well hidden sins are exposed by the Word. When we see God as he has revealed himself to us in his Word, the appropriate response is to cry out with Isaiah,
“Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isa. 6:5)
But half of your flesh’s battle revolves around making sure you don’t see how sinful you actually are. Its battle plan would fall apart if you recognize your hopeless condition. After all, one of the worst things that could happen to your flesh is for you to realize you need a Savior.
3. Your flesh doesn’t want you to know what the Word says about God’s attitude toward sin.
It’s impossible to seriously read the Word and come away thinking that sin is no big deal. From Genesis to Revelation we see that sin is an abomination that has thrown creation into chaos. Sin in its very nature is rebellion against God. As R. C. Sproul puts it, it’s cosmic treason against the King of the universe. And God doesn’t brush sin under a rug, hoping that it will disappear. No, our God hates sin and must pour out his wrath upon all unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18ff). But your flesh doesn’t want you meditating on the holiness and wrath of God. It wants you to think God takes sin lightly. It wants you to view God as an omnipotent Santa Claus who exists for your pleasure. Your flesh knows that if you understand how seriously God takes sin, you will begin to as well—and it can’t let that happen.
4. Your flesh doesn’t want you to know the message of the gospel that flows through the veins of the living Word.
Throughout the Word we are presented with the grand story of redemption. Before time began, God planned and promised within himself to save his rebellious people. Right after the Fall, he promised to crush the head of the Serpent through the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15), and it is this promise that unfolds as we flip from page to page in the Scriptures, culminating in the work of Christ on the cross. Here is the beautiful news we find in the Word: We are totally depraved sinners, and God sent his Son to suffer his wrath in the place of totally depraved sinners. If you are in Christ, all of your sin has been dealt with on the cross, and your salvation is secure. You are a new creation, made alive to live for the glory of God!
But this news is like ipecac for your flesh. The gospel makes it nauseous, and worse, angry. It hates the good news, and will do anything to keep you from remembering it. Listen to who you are because of what Christ has done for you:
We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. (Rom. 6:6-7)
Such good news is the worst news your flesh will ever hear. This is why your flesh delights in assaulting your thoughts. One of its chief goals is to make you forget who you are in Christ.
5. Your flesh doesn’t want you to know that the Word equips you to mortify it.
The Word reveals the schemes of your flesh, casting them into the light. It shows your flesh to be a foe conquered by the work of your Savior on the cross. God has not left you alone to mortify your flesh. He has given you his Spirit, and he has shown you how you are to walk as a new creation. The gospel crushes pride, arrogance, and selfishness, bringing you to see the grace and mercy of God. All of these things are weapons your flesh can’t tolerate. You have been given everything you need to kill the enemy within you.
In light of the great weapon you have, does that mean your flesh will give up? Well, no, it will never give up. And remember this: It doesn’t want you to read the Word. The last thing it wants you to do this year is to seek God in his Word, submitting to his rightful rule and reign over your life. If you want to make your flesh happy, put your Bible on a shelf and forget about it—let it collect an inch of dust. I, however, advise you to ignore its pleas for complacency. Don’t underestimate the importance of the Word in your battle against sin. Open it, read it, submit to it, and let your affections be stirred for our God and Savior who alone is worthy of worship.