One of the biggest mistakes we can make as students of God’s Word is to incorrectly take what God has said to someone or some audience in a given context and apply it to ourselves. It’s dangerous breeding ground particularly in these the last days. Incorrect application has the potential to skew truth, incorrectly balance the message of scripture and challenge the simplicity of the Gospel. What gives me the confidence to say that you ask? Simply the number of cult ‘christian’ religions prevalent today who do not preach salvation through grace by faith in Jesus Christ. They have taken bible truth and applied it’s message to themselves instead as to whom God intended. Not everything in scripture applies to you!
Today I would like to raise an awakening, an awareness perhaps, both within myself and you as we study God’s Word, to be mindful of our approach and how we apply truth.
The messages (instructions or truth) of scripture can be broken down into 4 types, (a) Historical (b) Prophetical (c) Instructional (d) Spiritual.
Historical means in that specific portion of scripture God is re-enacting a historic event that took place for us. Like reading a History book, we would find facts, and accounts of people and key events. The Old Testament is largely a historic book revealing how God was working with His people, Israel. Now historical can become dangerous when we misapply it to ourselves, when God was clearly relaying a sequence of events from which we can indirectly learn about who He is, and what He desires.
Prophetical is simplistically a passage where God has made a prophecy about an event and it has happened, or will come to pass. The Bible has over 300 prophecies that have already been fulfilled. Now prophetical can become dangerous when we misapply what we see in scripture as current day events. For example; there have been numerous accounts of what “the four-horseman” are through the ages and while it’s great to draw these type of analogies, could it possibly be that the four horseman are literal? That may seem wrong but my point is that we must be careful in listening to others, watching Youtube videos or believing what we read on Facebook; simply because a prophecy has such strong association to current events.
Instructional is where God’s Word is giving direction, guidance or command. An example of this is the 10 commandments. However while there are plenty of cases where God provides instruction, not all of it is too us. Consider Israel’s instructions regarding their diet. Stoning those who broke certain laws. Who they should marry. Having altars, and offering animals unto God etc. Could those apply to us? Of course not. Does God’s Word ever change? No! It just has that appearance when we apply instructions to us (the bride of Christ) that were given directly to Israel. God left these accounts as a record to us, showing His nature and how He relates to man.
Now instructional can be dangerous when we rigidly follow God’s laws to an imbalance. This is known as legalism and involves being so rigid we do more harm than good. An example of this is the Pharisees and Sadducees who vehemently followed God’s laws, but had no heart for God.
Lastly, Spiritual is the process by which we take scripture and make it personal. This is the most common approach we take in our devotions, when reading our Bibles and when needing encouragement from God’s Word. Spiritual application can be very dangerous because we can take the words of God and bend it to mean anything. We fall into this trap because we feel it’s so real and applicable to us that the context of scripture may be completely ignored. Out of all four types this is the only one whose source is questionable, as we interpret the passage in light of the situation we are in. Is it “man” or is it the Holy Spirit giving the message? Whereas in the other three types, the message is already given by God.
There is a lot to chew on here and no supporting scripture, but my intent is merely to stimulate thinking and create awareness. I pray you were blessed by it!
For Christ, For You