How to Avoid Misusing and Abusing the Bible

a particular passage in Philippians 4 immediately jumped into my mind. Which states, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Relevant magazine produced an article on The Five Most Misused and Abused Bible Verses in the church. When I saw the title, a particular passage in Philippians 4 immediately jumped into my mind. Which states, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Sure enough, the author stated that verse as the number one most abused passage in the body of Christ.

Here are a few more common verses people seem to abuse.

How about sweethearts quoting Jacob and Esau’s statement to each other that, “The Lord watch between you and me while we are apart”. In it’s original context this is a statement between two adversaries saying, “if you rip me off or do something bad to me while we’re apart, my God himself repay.” It’s not a romantic verse between a courting couple. Of course, the intention is good and they are just wanting to say may God watch between us and bless us as we are apart.

And, of course, there are the people who quote, “For where two or three are gathered in his name, he is in their midst.” The verse actually refers to when two or three people gathered together to discipline somebody for their disobedience to the Lord.

More famously, there is the Romans 8:28 passage that says God makes all things work together for “my” good. When, according to the context, it is for the whole church not the individual. One more example of the danger to interpret scripture based on “me” rather than the original context.

So, why do people go about abusing Bible verses?

Different people would give different answers as to why all of this happens.The relevant magazine article is quite good about context, literary context and the usage of words etc.

Imagine reading Tolstoy or Tolkien and pulling out one sentence from the middle of either of their works…

However, In my mind, the primary reason that people abuse Bible verses is because they don’t read the Bible.  What I mean by this is that people often read the Bible like they read the phone book.  Every verse has an independent meaning apart from the verses around it. Imagine reading Tolstoy or Tolkien and pulling out one sentence from the middle of either of their works and claiming to understand what the author is saying.

My wife and I have been running a Bible school for the last 40 years (called the School of Biblical Studies). At our ministry location our leadership recently instituted a year-long emphasis on Bible reading.

They asked everyone to pray and create a plan for their yearly reading. Further, our ministry leader asked everyone to choose an accountability partner to talk to about how we are doing with our plan.

My accountability partner decided to read through the whole Bible this year. She just told me that she finished the old testament as she had planned even though she just had a baby three weeks ago. After that update, she received a new Bible. And in a text message she told me, “because of my hunger for the Bible, I simply read through the whole Bible – my new one.”

How does that relate to abusing Bible verses?

Plenty. As I said at the beginning of the article, in my opinion, the reason people abuse Bible verses is that they do not read the Bible. And by not reading the Bible, I mean that they do not read the Bible as a book. My accountability partner, the mom with the new baby, certainly read the Bible as literature.

A person can read through the whole Bible in one year if they read just four chapters a day.

Reading through the entire Bible in a week or a month might seem a bit ambitious but, that does not have to be the starting point.  A person can read through the whole Bible in one year if they read just four chapters a day. Taking smalls steps might be the best option for someone who has never read the Bible like this before. An individual can pray and ask God how He wants him or her to be reading through the whole Bible as a beautiful piece of literature.

So, what about people who don’t like to read the Bible? Well, I have two answers.  

First, they need to pray (and ask others to pray) that God will give them a hunger for the Bible. This has always been my basic encouragement to those who have asked me to teach them to read their Bible. I recommend they simply ask God to give them a hunger and then read the Bible. This is how I developed my passion for the Bible – six young men prayed for me regularly for six weeks without me even knowing they were doing it.

My second answer would be to recall John Wesley’s statement to Methodist preachers in the 1700s. He wanted all Methodist preachers reading (both Christian and non-Christian literature ) five hours a day in order to preach sermons that would be “worthwhile.” If a person didn’t like to read, Wesley’s words were, “You need to learn to like to read.” I would say the same thing is true for the Bible:  if you don’t like to read the Bible you need to learn to like to read the Bible.

Kudos to relevant magazine.

How do I answer the question, “what is the best way to prevent abusing and misusing the Bible?”

Read the Bible.

 

HAVE YOU DONE A DTS BUT STRUGGLE TO READ THE BIBLE AS A BOOK? 

COME JOIN US FOR A SCHOOL OF BIBLICAL STUDIES THIS SEPTEMBER TO SPEND 9 MONTHS STUDYING GOD’S WORD AND BEING TRANSFORMED BY IT. 

YOU WON’T REGRET THIS.

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