Is there ever a time when the Bible won’t work in our lives? The answer is yes! It can be a simple misquote, a misunderstanding of the content in a passage, failure to look at a verse within the surrounding context, or it can be a severe diversion–this is what some cults are founded on. Whenever God’s Word is incorrectly handled: that’s when the Bible won’t work!
There are warnings throughout God’s Word concerning the proper handling of Scripture, with special warnings to those who teach His Word to others:
“Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
How is God’s Word mishandled today? One area concerns salvation by grace, versus salvation by obedience to God’s Word. Does grace excuse the believer from obedience to God’s Word? Paul didn’t think so:
“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Absolutely not! Certainly, I would not have known sin except through the law. For indeed I would not have known what it means to desire something belonging to someone else if the law had not said, ‘Do not covet,’ ” (Romans 7:7).
What could be worse when it comes to rightly applying the Word of God to our lives than misinterpreting His expectations of our obedience to Him? And this is just one area where failure to analyze and accurately divide the Word will keep it from properly working in our lives.
Another area is the argument that the New Testament replaces the Old Testament. But Jesus puts this argument to rest in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, confronting the issues of both murder and adultery.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire” (Matthew 5: 21-22).
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5: 27-28).
Jesus didn’t ignore the commandments from the Old Testament, He did not tell His listeners to disregard what was written before His earthly birth. He reinforced God’s commands, even taking their meaning further in the above passages.
God’s Word is life and power to us, but it must be correctly handled in order to work for our good. When we faithfully seek answers in the Bible, we will find them. Still, we must be aware of the pitfalls of misinterpretation, false teaching and misquoting of the Scripture.
Have you found yourself believing something you thought was biblical truth, only to find that it was incorrect? What will you do to further your own study of God’s Word?