Apply Truth Appropriately
Open Your Bible
2 Peter 1:3-8, 2 Peter 1:16-21, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, John 5:39-40
Text: 2 Peter 1:3-8, 2 Peter 1:16-21, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, John 5:39-40
The following is an excerpt from Week 4 of Open Your Bible: God’s Word is for You and for Now, a 7-session group Bible study written by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams of She Reads Truth, in partnership with LifeWay.
I used to think reading my Bible was about me.
When I was in junior high, I flung open my turquoise Student Study Bible any time I needed a pick me up or some friend advice. I wanted God’s Word to work like a vending machine—just punch in the right letters and numbers, and out pops a little something to satisfy my latest craving. To me, the Bible was full of moral lessons that were immediately useful and directly applicable to my current situation. Context or no context, I wanted everything in the Bible to be either about me, or a direct word to me.
Maybe this is why I arrived at adulthood with an involuntary cringe when the word “apply” was used in reference to the Bible. I have grown weary of extrapolating a pithy moral every time I close my Bible, like cracking open a fortune cookie after enjoying a plate of Kung Pao chicken. As I have grown in relationship with God, I’ve learned that a tidy takeaway isn’t what I’m really after anyway.
The Bible indeed contains all we need to know for godly living, but we would be foolish to approach God’s Word looking only for how it applies to us or others, forgetting to find what it says about Him.
It took years of spiritual growth for me to understand the truth, one distilled beautifully into these instructions from R.C. Sproul: When we open our Bibles, we shouldn’t ask, What does this mean to me? but rather, What does this mean?
>>>OPEN YOUR BIBLE: Read Romans 8:1-4 and ask yourself, “What does this mean?” and “What does this say about God?”
Another common mistake we make, often unintentionally, is to take well-known verses or phrases and apply them to people or situations out of context. Gordon Fee says in his book Reading the Bible For All It’s Worth, “If you take things out of context enough, you can make almost any part of Scripture say anything you want it to. But at that moment you are no longer reading the Bible, you are abusing it.”
>>>OPEN YOUR BIBLE: Below are a few verses commonly misquoted or misunderstood. Look them up and read them in context (with the verses before and after). For a better, more accurate understanding of what the text is saying, ask again, “What does this mean?” instead of “What does this mean for me?”
Exodus 14:14 – The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
Psalm 37:4 – Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires.
Phil 4:13 – I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Can you think of any others to add to this list?
I admit I still open my Bible some days seeking to find myself instead of Jesus. I want His Holy Word to serve me rather than rule me. It takes God’s grace to remember that applying His Word to our hearts is a work of the Holy Spirit, and that it must be applied appropriately.
Let’s ask Him for that grace now by praying the prayer below:
Father, forgive me for the times I’ve sought you in pursuit of a “good day,”
when what you have to offer me is a good life.
Forgive me for the times I’ve sought to serve myself
in the Book that teaches me to serve You.
By your Holy Spirit, grant me the grace and discernment
to apply Scripture appropriately. Amen.
This is an excerpt from Open Your Bible: God’s Word is for You and for Now, a 7-session group Bible study written by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams of She Reads Truth, in partnership with LifeWay. To purchase Open Your Bible for individual or group study, visit lifeway.com/openyourbible.