The rock star Bono once said, “The Scriptures remain a plumb line to gauge how crooked the wall of my ego has become.” Many Christians who read the Bible regularly find this function of the Scriptures helpful, even therapeutic.
The Apostle Paul upheld this role of Holy Scripture, when he said, “But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness” (Romans 7:8). He was talking about the tenth commandment not to covet (Romans 7:7). The Scriptures show us not just that we do the things we ought not to do, but that we do them even when we have been told not to.
When I was a young teen, I used to run with a group of boys who made a sport out of terrorizing our neighborhood. We would go out on Friday night and, under the cover of darkness, steal “For Sale” signs from the front lawns of houses. We had collected dozens of these signs and stowed them away in an overgrown bend in the creek that ran behind our homes. Why did we do this? We knew it was wrong. We gained nothing from it. We certainly had no use for the dozens of “For Sale” signs we simply deposited in a bend in the creek. Yet, we did it repeatedly, night after night. Though we knew it was wrong, we simply enjoyed breaking the law. Something about breaking the law nursed a rebellious streak intrinsic to our nature.
The law shines a spotlight on our sinful nature. Like an axe, the law shows the character of the one who wields it. An axe is good and necessary if you need to split wood. Yet, that same axe, designed and purposed for good, can do all sorts of harm to another if used improperly. The commands revealed in Scripture, like an axe in the hands of a murderer, by extension reveal something about the crookedness of my soul. Like an X-ray, the Scriptures have the power to reveal what hides within me.
Now, if that was all the Scriptures did, I might not ever want to pick them up again. Praise be to God that this function of the Scripture serves a higher purpose. It points me to the One who can rescue my crooked ego from myself. The Scriptures point me to my Savior, Jesus Christ (see Romans 8:1-2).