Many Christians are familiar with Psalm 119:11 in the King James Version, even if they do not know its reference, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” And if we have ever heard of these words from God, the question is, do we take them seriously? I mean to say that Psalm 119:11 is no less the Word of God than John 3:16. The command and promise of this verse written three thousand years ago are not archaic, but rather timeless and accurate. This precept is not inferior to any others; it stands as God’s eternal edict, and I believe we will see its main truth reverberate into the future – leading up to the last days of history.
With the advent of the laptop computer, the iPad, the tablet, the smartphone, etc., a phenomenon has arrived that is much like a two-edged sword – it cuts both ways – for good and bad. We use our electronic devices very often to reference needed information. At our fingertips – just one click away – lies a world of data. Access to worthy material can be a very profitable thing. Of course, much knowledge without wisdom can be dangerous, but that is a story for another day. In terms of our nearly instant access to Bibles through apps of various types, many Christians have grown accustomed to using their smartphones, tablets, or computers for regular study and irregular or casual interfacing with the Bible’s contents. This can be beneficial, and it can also prove detrimental if we lean too heavily on the constant and immediate availability of the information on which we are relying.
There is a reason that God said through his prophet, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11, KJV). Notice the Lord’s emphasis on the fact that the Word is hidden or stored up in the human heart. While the scrolls and parchment on which the original Scripture was written were materials outside of the human heart, the people of God understood that the text had to be taken from the material on which it was written and processed diligently by their minds in order to ultimately reach a place of rest in the heart. Without the printing press – let alone computers – God’s people relied heavily on oral transmission. They spoke about God’s Word and repeated it over and over in an attempt to pass it on to the generations to follow. But this oral practice was also a way to get the Word of God settled in the very neuronal pathways of their own brains. The Word was second nature to many of them. It flowed freely when needed, for God has rigged our brains in such a way that the more we rehearse and interact with information in varying ways, the deeper the pathway that is engraved in our brains becomes – like a well-worn trail. This makes it easier to pull that information out again when needed or prompted. All of this scientific data can be explored with an article I wrote during my study of educational leadership and brain function. The article can be found at our website: Dendrites and Deuteronomy: The Alignment of Brain Research and the Timeless Word of God, or in my book, “Living in Awe.”
One potential problem with ongoing, momentary access to the Bible is that we begin to rely too heavily on its availability outside our own hearts and minds. We may be lulled into a false sense of security that since we can get any verse of the Bible at any time we want, there is no need to memorize it or understand its context. This is a false assumption. If the Bible is only outside of you, then your mind is not able to make critical connections on the spot. All the processing happens on your computer or your phone. Since you don’t have God’s Word hidden in your own heart, your brain on its own cannot associate God’s promise to a need that arises, or God’s command to a situation that occurs. You will rely on a Google search to do the connecting. While it’s true that we have always had concordances to do the same type of thing, our dependence has grown by leaps and bounds due to immediate access and the convenience of carrying the small smartphone. However, if we make our brain the main computer and the smartphone only a tool, we will be able to connect God’s promises to everyday living in a way the Lord intended – as coming from our own heart’s storehouse of the Word!
The second potential dilemma we have with the Bible and other valuable literary works being primarily online is what may happen in the future. At the outset, I must mention that I enjoy and benefit greatly from technology. One of my published devotional books is also available in a Kindle version. God gives us creativity and innovation that we might honor Him. But in this broken world, what is intended for good may also be used for evil. Technology can be employed for building the kingdom of God, and technology can also be used to damage the kingdom of God. In the future, as the “last days” of which Jesus spoke progress, we may see technology manipulated for purposes against God. Nonetheless, the ultimate victory of Jesus is sure. Consider, though, what may happen according to how the Bible describes the nature of the Antichrist and the end times.
First, we know from Jesus that the order of the day for the end times will be deception. He proclaimed in Matthew 24:24 (ESV), “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” The apostle Paul corroborates this concept in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, 9-10 (ESV, emphasis mine), “Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God … The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” In writing warnings to us about the coming of many with the spirit of antichrist, the Apostle John declares in 1 John 2:26 (ESV), “I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.”
It is crystal clear that a hallmark characteristic of the Antichrist is trickery. No wonder, for Jesus is the Truth, and the spirit of the antichrist is exactly that – against Christ – against the Truth embodied! Accordingly, Satan is known as “a liar and the father of lies,” a title applied to him by the Lord in John 8:44 (ESV). Another attribute of the Antichrist will be his temporary power. As we observed in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, he will “exalt himself against every so-called god or object of worship,” and he will set himself up in the very temple of the true God! He will have a wicked and fading power to deceive many people. The dying world will look to him for hope and peace in their great fear. As Unger’s Bible Dictionary notes, “This sinister demon-inspired leader will rise to dominate the world in the end-time, persecute the saints, seek to destroy the Jew and banish the name of God and His Christ from the earth, and thus take over.”
All that being understood, it seems logical that the Antichrist will deceptively dominate all forms of communication possible. In order to beguile the nations, it makes sense that the Antichrist – operating at the fullest capacity that God will sovereignly allow before the return of Christ – will harness every viable option for his treachery. Is not the internet as it now stands a great thing for Satan to attempt to control in order to deceive the world if possible? Jesus told us in Matthew 24:14 (ESV), “And the gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” The internet and satellites provide an easy way for everyone to hear, even simultaneously. Will not the master deceiver, the devil, use the same venue for his last attempt to destroy the coming of God’s kingdom?
As far back as 2008, Scholastic.com published an article titled, “The End of Textbooks?” The work informs us of all the reasons traditional textbooks in the classrooms of 8-12 grade students need to be replaced with electronic books, just as many of the college classrooms have done. What if the world community continues on in its “phasing out” of hard print? What if everything is moved to electronic version and most of our hard print books begin to disappear as they age? The history books and text books and hard print Bibles vanish. Then what? How easy would it be for the Antichrist, the great deceiver, to take over the internet and wipe away all information he then wants hidden? Or worse yet – and more in line with his nature – change the information to suit his purposes? A twisting of the truth is worse than its disappearance, for it is difficult to discern. Even now Satan tries to distort God’s Word among the Christian community. Can you image the grand distortion of that day of which God so carefully warned us?
What if we depended on all electronic Bibles and electronic forms of historical and scientific information? What if the Antichrist took control of that, and we had not enough hard copies with which to compare? And what if we had not truly “hidden His Word in our hearts” so that even we cannot discern the fraud?
What if the Holy Spirit really meant what He said – that the Word must be hidden in our hearts if we are counting on not sinning against God?
Take heart, and take God at His Word. Use every possible tool to grow in knowledge of Him. Also grow in wisdom. Know that it is not just a suggestion, but a command, that we hide God’s Word in our hearts so that we do not sin against Him. Read the Word. Ponder it. Talk about it in conversation. Write it. Apply it. Memorize it. Go to it over and over.
Oh, and hold onto your hard copy of the Bible!
Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Chicago, IL: Moody Bible Institute, 1966), 68.
David Rapp, “The End of Textbooks?” Scholastic.com. Nov/Dec 2008. Web. Aug 31, 2015.