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3 Ways People Misuse The Bible (And What You Can Do)

We all make these mistakes.

It seems daily I see well meaning Christians tear someone down with scripture in hand claiming to be doing so out of love. Funny, I don’t remember Jesus doing this. Sure he corrected people, but the people he corrected knew that he had done so out of love.

We need to stop misusing scripture and start using it for what God intended. First we will start with 3 ways we misuse scripture.

How We Misuse Scripture

Tear People Down

Often we like to condemn and then tack on, well that was out of love, thinking that somehow makes it right. Too many Christians hide behind the fact that what they are saying is true. Listen, you can say something true (something that is in the Bible) and be totally wrong in how you say it. Your words might be true but the way you say it makes it wrong.

I think that’s why Paul said: If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Without love you cannot correct someone. Without love our corrections come off as condemnation. Without love truth is a tough pill to swallow.

I have found in my life when I have sin that is not dealt with it makes others’ sins magnify in my eyes. Before I can lovingly correct someone else I need to repent of my own sin.

Correct the World’s Behaviors

Often we use scripture to point out flaws in the world’s behaviors. We offer the grace-filled passages in the Bible to the people in the Church while pointing to condemnation for the world. It should be flipped, at least slightly. We should be offering grace to the world and lovingly correcting the church.

Let’s look at what Jesus said: For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:17 

Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn everyone but to save them. We often go into the world condemning everyone, the opposite of what Jesus did. We certainly cannot forget about telling the truth of the Gospel to the world, that is we are all sinners. But what I am saying is we often use scripture to show the world they are sinners and stop there. We need to tell them the good news that we are loved, saved, and accepted despite our sin.

We excuse the sins of the church and condemn the sins of the world. We offer only truth to the world and only grace to the church.We should be going out of our way to tell the world about Jesus who desperately loves them. And we should be reminding the Church of the sacrifice Jesus made to set us free from our past and to not go back to it.

Read the Bible Out of Context 

I see so many people pull one verse out of the Bible and use it to support their point. You have to look at the verse in context of what is being said around it. When we do this we get a faulty view of what is actually being said.

Let me give you an example: For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. Matthew 18:20 I’ve heard this quoted many times saying that when we gather as a church God is with us when 2 or more are gathered. That’s not what the verse is saying. You need to read the surrounding context (Matthew 18:15-20). Jesus is actually telling us how to properly deal with Church discipline. It’s also rather ridiculous to think that God is only with us when two or more are gathered, that doesn’t line up with what scripture says elsewhere.

We cannot simply read one verse and pull our conclusion from that. Many people have been hurt and gotten a false sense of what scripture says from doing this. We need to read each verse in context of the others surrounding it.

What To Do 

Remind Yourself of God’s Truths

Scripture reminds us of God’s promises to us. When days get long and life gets tough we need scripture to remind us that we are loved and God is with us.

You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. Deuteronomy 11:18

The Israelites took this seriously. Everywhere they went they were reminded of God’s promises. In our lives we need to make sure we are continually reminded of God’s truths. Write it down, memorize, quote it back to yourself, don’t let yourself forget it.

Correct Your Brothers/Sisters in Christ 

This one isn’t popular today. We live by that motto that you live your life, and I’ll live mine. But following Jesus wasn’t meant to be done alone. A large reason why is that community helps keep us on the right path. We need to be using scripture to lovingly correct our brothers and sisters.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Paul shows us here that scripture is useful for correcting, but he also gives us a hint why. He says so that we may be equipped for every good work. In other words, if we don’t correct each other we will be ill-equipped.

Solomon says it this way: Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. Proverbs 27:6 Wounds from a friend heal and we become stronger. Using scripture to correct will help edify the body of Christ.

Show Love to the World 

The Bible as a whole is the story of God redeeming his people who rebelled against him. At it’s core it’s good news for us. We who had no hope because of our sin now have hope because of his sacrifice. We need to go tell that story to the world. The world desperately needs to know that there is hope for them. They need to know that they are loved. They need to know about the God who wants to save them.

We each need to look at our lives and stop using scripture to tear people down and start using it to build people up.

21 comments on “3 Ways People Misuse The Bible (And What You Can Do)

  1. Great post! So often in life it is not what you are saying but how you say it that leads to hurting others…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s so true that we can’t hold unbelievers to the same standards of the church since they don’t know God’s truth. Love should be our first concern, as well as studying the Bible everyday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jesus always seemed to come down hard on the religious leaders that were holding people to such a high standard. I think we need to hold each other accountable, but in love.

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  3. We need to continually rethink our positions on all issues. Especially a codger such as I should reexamine his positions on issues, as I’ve a whole lifetime of encasing opinions in concrete.

    I love your point of reading God’s Word according to the immediate context, but as we mature in Christ we should develop an ever greater context of Scripture. Even making conclusions based on a passage’s immediate context can lack validity if not taken according to the whole of Scripture.

    But once again, I’m preaching to the choir.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right, we should look at the scripture in the immediate context and in light of what the rest of the Bible says. That latter can only be done after years of studying and knowing what is said where.

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  4. Excellent post. The more I study, the more I realize too – how many times the scripture has been transcribed, and done in a way that suited the person transcribing at that time in history.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We all do that, and I think that’s healthy. The original greek that most of the New Testament was written in wasn’t some fancy language of the day. It was the backwoods, easy to understand, greek. I think we always need to be making God’s Word as easy to understand as possible.

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  5. Great post. I particularly like the part about condemning the world and excusing the church – powerful.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Seth Muse

    This was great. So timely.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is an excellent article. Especially concerning how we treat nonbelievers. People always seem to forget that Jesus’ condemning words were to the religious leaders of his day, not to those who were lost. As you say, we seem to have this reversed for some reason. I have never met a nonbeliever who did not tell me they did not think they were a sinner. Those who reject Christ normally reject the premise of salvation not the premise that they are faulty.

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  8. Great post! It’s so important for us to take the word of God as it is and not corrupt it with out misconceptions. This can only happen when we spend enough time with our Lord and the Bible, and ask Him for wisdom to understand His word.

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  9. Pingback: The Spotlight: On Erroneous Thinking, Misuse of Scripture and Religiousity – Grace and Truth

  10. OMG! You have truly blessed me so much. Thank you so much for sharing ALL of this information because this is all so true, and much needed to be said. I would love to share this with others, if you don’t mind. Another thing also, l would like to add that l have experienced a lot of recently is preachers who preach about the people across the pulpit instead of preaching the Word of God. It is almost like throwing the person’s business in the message/sermon indirectly. That wounds and kills the spirit of the sheep.

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  11. “Out of context” is one error in interpreting scripture. Good point! Another error is called “Proof texting” where we make the thought in one scripture to be all that the apostles taught on that subject. For example we are “saved by grace through faith,” Eph 2:8 and go down the path of “Faith Only,” and “Baptism does not save” which is the requirement to be a Baptist. When we claim that baptism does not save ignoring other texts such as Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:21, Acts 22:16 and Mark 16:15-16, etc. that is “Proof Texting” and false teaching.

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  12. Jay Arnn

    Might I offer you one thought on this: I have found in my life when I have sin that is not dealt with it makes others’ sins magnify in my eyes. Before I can lovingly correct someone else I need to repent of my own sin
    In the OT, the word heal is the Hebrew word rapha which means physical healing, to cure, or restore favor. For example – to restore the Nation of Israel back to favor with God, the High Priest would sacrifice the unblemished lamb – this is referred to in Jewish customs as the Qorbanot: In ancient times, a major component of Jewish ritual was the offering of qorbanot. An entire order of the Talmud (Kodashim, that is, Holy Things) is devoted to the subject. More than 100 of the 613 Commandments as enumerated by Rambam specifically address issues related to qorbanot. The word “qorbanot” is usually translated as “sacrifices” or “offerings”; however, both of these terms suggest a loss of something or a giving up of something, and although that is certainly a part of the ritual, that is not at all the literal meaning of the Hebrew word. The word qorbanot comes from the root Qof-Reish-Beit, which means “to draw near,” and indicates the primary purpose of offerings: to draw us near to God. Because the Temple no longer exists, Jews can no longer offer qorbanot of animals or other items (wheat and olive oil). There are three basic concepts underlying qorbanot: giving, substitution and coming closer. Do you see a similarity in the qorbanot and Jesus? My Jewish brothers and sisters believe that without qorbanot, forgiveness is obtained through repentance, prayer and good deeds – unfortunately, this is not true even for those who are under the law because there is no sacrifice for them to atone for their sins. In AD 90 a conference of Rabbis was held after the temple was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70 and it was they who decided that in lieu of a sacrifice – in absence of the qorbanot that forgiveness would be obtained by the Nation through repentance, prayer and good deeds – this is man’s plan – not God’s plan – and the Jews today are following man’s plan. This erroneous teaching has also been brought into the church system and through the church system it has been taught to the church – the body of Christ. The church is being taught that their salvation relies on repentance – but this is not true because we know: Romans 4:6-8 David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin. First – we are made righteous apart from our works – good deeds are good but they amount to nothing in the account of salvation – what matters is your belief (faith) that Jesus is faithful. Now look to Romans 5:1-2 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Justified by faith, means that you – the believer – the purified child of God – whose body has been washed clean and pure by the blood of Christ is now fit for the Holy Spirit and God has acquitted you from all guilt – and that happened at the cross long before you were born and it lasts until you ascend into glory when Jesus calls you into the air. So, right there in several scriptures God has destroyed the concept of repentance, prayer, and good works for your salvation. Get this: it has nothing to do with what you do – and faith is not a work – it is a passive, resting belief in Jesus. When someone gives you a birthday present (a gift) what work did you do to receive it? None – you simply invited your friend to the party and you may not have expected a gift but you were given one. So it is true for the gift or righteousness through belief in Jesus. When you believed in His faithfulness and His promises you invited Him into your heart and life and were cleansed – then the Holy Spirit was placed in you and you in Jesus the body of Christ. In rest – by faith apart from works. When Paul teaches repentance, he is not speaking about Jewish repentance of sin – Paul is teaching the Jews and Gentiles to change the way you think – stop believing in man’s plan of salvation and realize that you are a sinner by the fall of Adam and that you cannot undo what Adam did and therefore you need a Savior – you need Jesus – you need God – you need the Holy Spirit. Likewise, when you embrace Jesus through faith in Him you cannot undo what Jesus has done for you – you cannot lose your salvation – if you believe that then what you are saying is that what Adam did was greater than what Jesus did – simply so not true. Our God is great and we cannot undo what He has done in love for us. I want to speak about prayer – without the sacrifice, it is questionable that God hears your prayers – I say this because during the qorbanot the prayers of the Nation of Israel would go up with the burning of the sacrifice like a sweet smelling aroma to God. Today, we are instructed to pray in the name of Jesus – the perfect sacrifice – and that our prayers will go up to heaven as a sweet smelling aroma to God. Ever had a smell take you back to a wonderful, joyous time with your family? I have – on many occasions a certain smell with take me back to the warmth and goodness of my grandmothers kitchen. When you pray in the name of Jesus your prayer goes up and the aroma reminds God of His most precious Son – how outstanding is that – your prayer reminds God of His Son Jesus – and when we pray in His name it is His will to grant our prayer. The one thought is how do we help other believers – when Paul sent the letter to the Church at Corinth who had division, who were getting drunk on communion, who were involved in unspeakable sexual perversion, Paul did not demand their immediate repentance – no – Paul reminded them who they were in Christ Jesus – don’t you know that you will judge the world – Paul asked them? This is how we help Christians – not by repentance of sin when God no longer imputes sin to us and remembers our sin no more – we confess Jesus – we remind them who they are in Christ Jesus – that precious treasure hidden in the field – the raised king/priest who will return with Jesus as His bride to reign with Jesus. Peter tells in 2 Peter 1:5-9 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Here Peter is teaching about the fruits of the relationship with Jesus through transformation by the Holy Spirit when He dwells in you. These are fruits of your faith in Jesus not character traits you need to reform – repentance is reformation and that is not the heart of God – God is not looking for you to reform to become right with Him – His heart and His will is that you believe in the One whom He sent – Jesus and once you believe the Holy Spirit will transform you because He is faithful. Peter also states that for those Christians who do not have these fruits or realize that they have them – it is because they have forgotten that they were completely forgiven and justified by faith at the cross – old sins does not mean past sins the word palai (Greek) means a long time ago. Therefore – remind those, including yourself that you were forgiven at the cross and justified by God (acquitted of all guilt) a long time ago at the cross. Read the Gospel of John – this book is for the believer – there is not one mention of repentance for the believer after the cross – but believe appears 85 times in the book. Good stated and Paul confirms that we must rightly divide the word or God – what is past truths, what is present truths, what is for the Jew and what is for the believer. Repentance is a Jewish teaching for the Jew who practices law. For the Christian believer you are justified by faith in Jesus and God no longer imputes sin to your account. You are pure, holy, justified, reconciled, favored, and blessed by God through faith in Jesus.

    Amen,
    Rabbi J Arnn
    Jewish Studies for Christians

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    • WEIbp@aol.com

      So, Peter was wrong when he told all to repent and be baptized. Acts 2:38. So, we Gentiles just keep living a crazy life. Repentance is for Jews only. That’s a bit crazy

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      • Jay Arnn

        No, Peter was not wrong – but many today apply what Peter said to the Jews – to the church and Peter’s message in Acts 2:38 was to the Jews – allow the Gospel to prove this: Act 2:5-6 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. These devout men are Jewish – they are not part of the church – the body of Christ. Here Peter is about to assert that God really did send Jesus as Messiah and that they should turn to (repent) God in this truth for salvation.
        Act 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. Again – men of Judea – men who are Jewish. Not the church.
        Act 2:22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know. Men of Israel refers to the Jewish Nation and the Jews – not the church.
        Act 2:36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” All the house of Israel is the Nation of Israel – not to be confused with the church. When the men of Israel asked what they must do – Peter replied:
        Act 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Repent in Hebrew is shuwb (pronounced shuv) and it means to turn – as in turn to God. In Greek it is metanoeo and this word means to change your mind – as in change your mind about salvation from the law to salvation from God through Jesus.
        Now, look at the order in which Peter instructs his fellow Jews – Repent (Change the way you think about salvation) and be baptized in the name of Jesus – then your sins are forgiven. This is for the Jew not the church.
        So, we Gentiles just keep living a crazy life – this was asked of Paul almost 2000 years ago and Paul said certainly not – but there is man’s plan and there is God’s plan. Let me show you this in the Gospel in order that you know it is true: Galatians 3:26-29 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. For those Gentiles and Jews who believe in Jesus then they are neither Jew or Gentile, but have been adopted by the grace of God into the body of Christ as believers who are partakes of the new covenant of the Lord God through Jesus and have been, through adoption, made heirs to the Kingdom of God according to His promise. Therefore, if you believe, you are no longer Jew or Gentile and God has a plan for you through faith in Jesus and the transformation of you into a new creation by the Holy Spirit. Again, repentance is not for you.
        If you are a Jew or Gentile, who has rejected the Savior or has yet to hear of the Savior, then yes, they just keep living a crazy life. However, the believer is transformed by the plan of God.
        Where does man get the idea that we must repent as a condition of salvation? Which, by the way, insinuates that the free gift of God through Jesus’s sacrifice is not free after all – this is truly wrong belief – the Gospel certainly states that the free gift was given through the sacrifice of Jesus. If you need to repent first – then the gift is conditional and not free – it cannot be both. The promise of God is that salvation is a free gift through Jesus. When the woman from Canaan came to Jesus to plead for her daughter, Jesus did not initially grant her plea, stating that He had come for the lost sheep of Israel. When the woman dropped the pretense of His Kingship and pleaded to Him as a Savior, Jesus showed her mercy and healed her daughter – there was no condition of repentance. When the woman with the bleeding issue broke every law just to touch Jesus’s robe and made Jesus unclean by doing so – Jesus did not tell the woman to repent – no – he healed her through His grace and mercy as a Savior.
        There are several scriptures which speak about the repentance of God: Genesis 6:6, 1 Samuel 15:11, Exodus 32:14, and 2 Samuel 24:16 to list a few. In each passage the word is Nacham in Hebrew and it means to have a change of mind – have or show compassion – or to regret. Since we know through the Gospel that God is incapable of sinning – then it stands to reason that God would not repent of sin. Also, in the Gospel we know that God does not make mistakes – therefore it stands to reason that in many cases God either showed compassion, or changed His mind, or regretted – in the case of making Saul King because Saul turned away from God and God regretted that Saul turned away from Him. 1 Thessalonians 5:9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Thessalonians 1:9-10 For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. Now – correlate this statement to the Hebrew word repent and you will find that it is the same word used in the sentence and how you turned – the Greek word is epistrephō which means to turn and the Hebrew equivalent is Shuwb which means to turn. So for the Jew, God is telling them to turn back to God – to believe on Him who He sent and no longer trust in the law for your salvation.
        Romans 10:8-11 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” that is, that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” So – based on the Gospel we know our confession is Jesus Christ – not our sins – we do not confess our sins to believe unto righteousness – we confess Jesus and that whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame (suffer judgement) and will be saved. Nothing in the plan of God through Jesus Christ concerning the salvation of the church requires repentance of sin.
        Let me answer the question I asked above – how did it come to this that man believes he must repent as a condition of the free gift of salvation through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus? It began around 800-900 AD in the Latin translation and the idea of penance – the Latin word is poenitentiae – where we get the word penance and also penitentiary or more commonly spoken – prison. This was translated from the Greek word metanoeo incorrectly. The Latin word coveys punishment in the context of penal or satisfactory punishment. So the idea that you must punish yourself through the repentance of sin is the error of man who has incorrectly translated the inspired and breathed word of God – remember only the original word – not translations are the inspired and breathed words of God. Man has endured almost 1200 years of wrong belief concerning repentance. If you read the original text you will see that in no instance does the original text state “repent of your sins” – in all cases the word in the original text states – repent and believe – repent and be baptized – repent for the remission of sin (meaning repent (turn to God) and He will forgive your sins). However for the church – the body of Christ the Gospel is clear – salvation is a free gift with no condition. Repentance is not for the believer – belief is for the believer and the Gospel of John is clear about this. Repentance is never mentioned in the Gospel of John which is after the cross and the plan of God for the church. However, believe is written 85 times in this Gospel. Therefore, according to the Gospel – Peter was not wrong – but he is plainly speaking to the men of Israel and it was to them to turn to God (repent) and accept Jesus as their Savior – and on that day of Pentecost when Peter preached this message – 3000 were saved. In comparison, when the law was given 3000 perished. God’s plan for salvation has you focused on Jesus not your sin. Repentance is not a condition for the church.

        Kind regards,
        J Arnn
        Jewish Studies for Christians

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  13. Jay Arnn

    Another Concerning statement in this post is: “Let me give you an example: For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. Matthew 18:20 I’ve heard this quoted many times saying that when we gather as a church God is with us when 2 or more are gathered. That’s not what the verse is saying.”
    John 20:19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you. When Jesus told the Jews that when two or more gather in His name He is in the midst – Jesus meant exactly what He said. And today, because we are partakers of the new covenant by adoption through faith in Jesus we, the body of Christ can rest in this promise. Even, better, knowing that the blood has made us so pure and holy that the Holy Spirit can reside in us – the body temple to Jesus. The Brit HaHadashah – Hebrew new testament – it states in the original text in Hebrew – “To repeat, I tell you that if two or more of you here on earth agree about anything that people ask (pray) it will be for them from my Father in heaven. For wherever two or three are assembled in my name, I am there (there in the middle) with them”.
    That is exactly what it is saying. This refers to the body of Christ – the church not the church system or building.

    Kind regards,
    Rabbi J Arnn
    Jewish Studies for Christians

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