J. Lee Grady: 4 Ways People Misuse the Bible
The Bible is a supernatural book. It is divinely inspired and saturated in God’s living presence. It brings joy when we are sad, comfort when we are weary, guidance when we are confused and encouragement when we are ready to quit. That’s why we need to read and study it daily.
God’s word is compared to fire, water, seed, honey, milk, meat, bread, rain, a lamp, a mirror and the very breath of God. But it is also compared to a weapon. Ephesians 6:17 calls the Bible “the sword of the Spirit,” and Hebrews 4:12 says it is “sharper than any two-edged sword.”
And while swords are extremely useful in a conflict, they are also dangerous. This is why the apostle Paul instructed Timothy to handle the word of truth “accurately.” This word, in the original Greek, means “to make a straight cut.”
That means when we use God’s Word, we don’t wave the blade around sloppily or slash people. Instead, we use it according to the Owner’s manual. After all, the Bible is not our sword—it is the sword of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit, who inspired all Scripture, should guide how we use God’s Word.
Some disturbed people today buy guns and plan mass shootings; in the same way, lots of people buy Bibles and then misuse them. The result is spiritual carnage. Here are four primary ways the Bible is misused:
1. We misuse it to condemn people. Our heavenly Father is merciful, slow to anger and full of love. Yet people who don’t understand His heart make Him out to be a harsh, abusive God. Legalists spend most of their time in the Old Testament, and they prefer to judge rather than extend grace.
All Scripture is inspired by God, but we are a New Testament people now. The coming of Christ changed everything. The Old Testament must be read in the light of the New. You will be miserable, and you will make other people miserable, if you don’t understand that mercy has triumphed over judgment (see James 2:13).
For example, we often quote Malachi 2:16—”For the Lord, the God of Israel, says that He hates divorce”—without explaining that God has compassion for the victims of divorce. Be careful how you quote God’s Word to people. Always season your words with grace.
2. We misuse it to manipulate people. Preachers have a special responsibility to nourish, encourage, exhort and even rebuke the church using God’s Word. But we should never use Scripture to extort money, twist people’s arms or put them under a cloud of guilt.
For example, I’ve heard ministers use verses from the Bible to suggest that if people give in an offering, all their debts will be magically paid overnight. That is not scriptural; that is sorcery! I’ve also heard ministers use 1 Chronicles 16:22a—”Do not touch My anointed”—to warn people never to ask questions about a minister’s financial behavior. But the Bible should never be used as a tool to keep people from asking honest questions.
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SOURCE: Charisma News
J. Lee Grady was editor of Charisma for 11 years before he launched into full-time ministry in 2010. Today he directs The Mordecai Project, a Christian charitable organization that is taking the healing of Jesus to women and girls who suffer abuse and cultural oppression. Author of several books including 10 Lies the Church Tells Women, he has just released his newest book, Set My Heart on Fire, from Charisma House. You can follow him on Twitter at @LeeGrady or go to his website, themordecaiproject.org.