Many people, including myself, especially men are bad at reading instruction manuals. Most men detest them and do everything possible to get by without reading and following them. We get something that has to be assembled and try everything to get by without the manual, and only if it comes to the last straw and no other way, we might read it, but sometimes we then depend on someone else to read the manual for us and then tell us how to do it. I have worked on getting better at this in my old age, but I used to be very poor at it. Get a new electronic piece of equipment and just push the buttons on the remote to see what happens rather than do it by the manual in a logical way. I must admit that others have laughed at me more than once over my opening a box and proceeding to try and put something together without looking at the manual, especially when I got into a jam and it didn’t work out.
But when it comes to our spiritual instruction manual, the Bible, there can be no such for it is no laughing matter and the most serious book that exists for life, success and happiness. If you don’t read it carefully and follow it closely, your loss can be not just in temporal blessings and benefits but for eternity. That which you will loose by not reading and taking heed to the Word of God can be and is for the most part, eternal.
Many people follow preachers and teachers and read the latest books put out by big name ministers and go to seminars and buy tapes and books, but when you do all of that and fail to follow the Word of God, you have failed completely. So it is necessary to read, take head to and follow and obey the Scripture.
How can we read the Scriptures so that we can grow up in the things of God? First let us look at the Seven Deadly mistakes of Bible reading, seven things you must not do as you read the Scriptures. Someone once called them the Seven Deadly Sins of Bible Reading.
1. The first mistake of Bible study is “Taking the Scripture out of context.” Any text out of context is a pretext. Example. 2 Corinthians 12:9 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” So you say to yourself, well this verse is for me. I am not going to deal with moral weaknesses or any weaknesses in my life; after all, it says that God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness. So I don’t have to work or try to improve my weak areas, for they are an opportunity and place for God to work and show His strength.
But in context, the scripture does not mean that at all. We must keep the text within the context. Within the context, we see that Paul had a physical problem for which he sought the Lord three times and the Lord said, No Paul, I’m not going to remove it, because that is not my perfect will for your life because you need this in your life to balance you and keep you humble so that you don’t become proud. So instead he gave Paul this promise and said, in the midst of your physical problem, in the midst of this that you are suffering, I will make my strength perfect.
Verse 7-8 “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.” The fact is, this evil spirit caused Paul great persecution which included stoning, being beaten with rods, whipped with the lash and more. Paul kept being physically buffeted and had to keep turning to the Lord for help and deliverance and he desired that the Lord stop it and not allow it to keep happening, but the Lord said, “no, this is not what is best for you spiritually because of the abundance of revelations I have given you, so that you won’t become proud, I must allow this in your life. I is for you eternal benefit and reward.”
Always put the text within the context. The problem has nothing to do with moral weaknesses, but with a physical problem that Paul was enduring and facing in his daily life. Yet today many people who have misunderstood and taken this verse out of context, think that it justifies and gives them a license to live carnal lives because they took a piece of text out of context and misapplied it to their life and situation.
Another way I have seen a text taken out of context was when I was young in the Lord and I came across a sermon that an old time country preacher had preached called, “Top Know Come Down.” Well it was taken from Matthew 24:17 which says, “Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:” It is part of a larger discourse that began verses above about the time of the Great Tribulation. Yet in this case the preacher even butchered the wording and took half of verse 17 which was not even a complete sentence, the full sentence of which is verses 15-18. The preacher was doing what was called clothesline preaching and telling the ladies that it was wrong to put their hair up in a knot on top their head instead of allowing it to cover their ears because back then lots of ladies were doing that and they called it putting their hair up in a bun. Yet there was no scripture upon which to base such a teaching or doctrine so he made one up.
2. The second mistake is “Being too literal” or taking every verse literally. You must understand that which is a figure of speech as often used or a parable. Matthew 5:29-30 “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”
Now God doesn’t mean that he wants you to literally pluck out your eyes. If everyone took these verses exactly and literally, we would have a lot of maimed and blind people in our churches. How many times has something that you have seen been offensive to you, your spiritual well being or to God? Instead this is a Hebrew way of expressing the importance, the necessity and the urgency of the issue. It is a Hebrew way of saying, “don’t allow your eyes to wonder constantly, lusting after things, money or people. You need to understand the language of the bible.
Remember when Jesus told those who followed Him that they had to eat his flesh and drink His blood to have life in John 6:53-58? “Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.”
The reaction was unreal. Verse 60-61 “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?” Yet in the church some years later this was translated to mean that the priest must have the power to transform the wafer into the literal body of Jesus and the wine into the literal blood of Jesus. Because of that there has been error taking place for hundreds of years. It is like taking out a picture of someone and proclaiming to someone else, “This is my brother, or wife or whomever.” That is done in that fashion in some countries today and yet no one misunderstands that to mean that it is literally that other person, but it is only a picture of that person. Likewise, Jesus was not saying this is my flesh and blood, but that they were a symbol, symbolic of his flesh and blood that would be poured out at
Calvary for our redemption.
3. The third deadly mistake is to “Ignore the historical and cultural setting of the Bible”. You must not understand and must not take that which you read out of its proper setting. Just because Elijah was told by God to confront the wicked king Ahab and the wicked Queen Jezebel and the prophets of Baal and God sent fire from heaven to lick up the water poured on the altar and consume the sacrifice doesn’t mean that everyone of us is called to stand up and challenge the wickedness and authority and call for fire from heaven. That was a specific calling at a specific time in history for a specific man in order that God might accomplish that which He desired at that time. It is especially wrong when it is misapplied as two of Jesus’ disciples did in asking if they should call fire down from heaven to destroy people because they had rejected Him in Luke 9:53-55. Jesus rebuked them and said “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” That is because Jesus didn’t come to kill or judge and destroy men, but to provide salvation for them. Luke 19:10 “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Elijah didn’t call down fire from heaven to destroy people, but to consume an animal sacrifice. The only fire ever sent down from heaven to destroy men was done by the angels whom God sent to destroy
Sodom and Gomorrah because of their great sins back in Genesis chapter 19.
4. The fourth mistake that you must not make in your Bible reading is “Not using a good translation of the Bible.” I have taught in detail on this issue before and I have done articles on “Which Version of the Bible is the Most Accurate” speaking of which English version, which is the KJV, plain and simple. All other English translations are a part of or out flowing of the effort and work of the Catholic Church to undermine and destroy faith in the King James Bible and therefore faith in the Word of God. I also did comparisons on different translation, as the NIV versus KJV and also the NASB versus the KJV. This can be done with any other modern English translation, which are all corrupted and full of harlot doctrines because they are all translated from corrupted Greek Texts, which we can again thank the Catholic Church for. Only the KJV is translated from the majority texts, the correct and pure and accurate Greek Text. There are many articles on this issue in my KJV Translation Controversy section of my website.
5. The Fifth mistake in reading the Bible to avoid is “Reading What you Want into the Bible.” You do not read into the Bible what you want to read into it. It is amazing how many have done this and how easy it is to do. It is an easy temptation. But God intended that we should go to the Scriptures empty with no preconceived ideas, notions and doctrines and nothing to prove and allow the Word of God to speak to us and to tell us what God wants us to know. All false doctrines, all heresies have begun with a man or woman deciding they wanted things to be a certain way to fit their lifestyle or to prove themselves right and so they went into the Word to pick and choose and cut and past and split paragraphs, sentences and verses and make their own doctrine to fit themselves, in reality making a God of their own choosing and after their own image.
The fact of the matter is that you can prove anything you want by mutilating the Word of God and taking scripture out of meaning, out of context and doing what has been done by many in coming up with their teachings and doctrines today. Even Muslims read and study the Bible, but not to learn the truth about our God or about Jesus, but to find ways to use scripture to support the Koran and Mohammed and prove they are right and we are wrong. They use all the things done and taught by insincere Christians to show that we are wrong, even using the many English translation to say “Which one is truth”, you have many Bibles, we have only one and it has never changed like yours. The fact is, God’s Word has never changed, the original writings are still the same but men change them for their own purposes.
We are to come to the Word of God, open and with no filters and nothing to prove to make us right, but to allow God to speak for Himself and be right. Romans 3:3-4 “For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” God is right because He is God and His Word is truth. But men, when they want to reject truth, when they decide they don’t like God’s way or God’s teaching on something, they then work to proof text what they want to believe and use as an excuse for their own lives because they don’t want to surrender and submit to the authority of the Word of God. They want to be their own authority and think that if they can change things or change the Word by teaching false doctrines when all they do is seal their own damnation. The only way to approach scripture and look for doctrine is according to Isaiah 28:9-10 “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:”
Yet, you can study scripture and try to make doctrine and correctly divide the word of truth according to 2 Timothy 2:15 that says, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” and never come up with correct doctrine or truth. Why? First of all, only those who are born again and who desire to know the truth and obey it will ever come to a knowledge of the truth because God only reveals the truth to those whose hearts are upright before Him, the others He takes in their own deceit.
John 7:17 “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” Too many doctrines have been produced by men and women with an axe to grind and something to prove and who weren’t out for the truth for truth’s sake that they might obey and do that which was God’s will. True Christianity is a faith that comes by revelation, where Jesus reveals Himself to you and what He wants so that you then will live by faith in Him and His Word to you and not by man and man made doctrines and traditions and religion and rituals. True faith in Christ doesn’t come by men or religious doctrines and teaching because Jesus said only those that the Father gave to Him could come to Him but men don’t want to accept or believe the words of Jesus, who is God and who is the only savior of mankind.
John 6:44 “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him:” You don’t choose Him or to accept Him or become a believer, He chooses you and draws you to Himself. John 15:16 “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain:” Most who go to church and claim Christ are not bearing His fruit because He did not call them and fill them with Himself.
6. The sixth mistake is “Reading the Scriptures without the guidance of the Holy Spirit.” Don’t every think that you are too clever, knowledgable, to able or capable to read the Word of God and to understand and comprehend it without the guidance and help of the Holy Spirit. 2 Timothy 2:7 “Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.” If you dare to read the Word of God or understand the Word of God without the power of the Holy Spirit who is the author of the Word of God you will end up reading it intellectually, understanding it intellectually or twisting it to suit your own purposes. You will not understand it properly. Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” John 3:6.
1 Corinthians 2:14 “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” The Holy Spirit must give you discernment of the truth, for He comes to show us truth.
John 15:26 “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:” John 16:13-14 “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” John 14:17 “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” So we see that the only way to come to know truth is to desire it and for the Holy Spirit to show you and guide you into truth. Otherwise your understanding of the Word and your doctrine will be all man made from human understanding and wisdom which is folly.
1 Corinthians 3:19-20 “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.” 1 Corinthaians 1:19-21 “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Man’s wisdom is of no value when it comes to the things of God. Man’s intellect and intelligence is of no value when it come to spiritual things and understanding of the ways of God. Just because a man get some degrees and titles behind his name, like D.D. (Doctor of Divinity), it might only mean that he is spiritually deaf and dumb and spiritually proud and thinking more highly of himself than he ought. Romans 12:3 “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Has God given you your faith or have you been taught it of men and got it from book learning which are meaningless and useless before God if you have not His Spirit and He is not your first and foremost teacher of doctrine.
7. The final deadly sin of Bible reading is “Failing to apply what you have read in your daily life.” It is failing to see the application in your own life and apply the Word of God to your life so that it gives you direction and instruction for life. Another man, A. Simpson, once said, “God has hidden every precious thing in such a way that it is a reward for the diligent, a prize for the earnest, but a disappointment for the slothful soul. The nut is hidden in its thorny case, the pearl is buried beneath the oceans waves, the gold is imprisoned in the rocky bosom of the mountain, the gem is found only after you crush the rock which enclosed it. The very soil gives its harvest as a reward for the laboring farmer.” Henry Ford once said, “Cut your own wood and you’ll be warm twice.”
To put it simply in the words of James, “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” James 1:23-25. It what you read is not applied to your life so that it changes you thinking, renews your mind and brings about a change in thought and therefore a change in direction and lifestyle, then your Bible reading and study is useless and meaningless.
Finally, in closing:
Five minutes on the run isn’t going to cut it. Ten minutes on the run isn’t’ going to cut it. But spending time with God, taking that time from wherever you can and spending time with God is necessary and required for you to have a proper relationship with Him. Now that we have covered the do not’s of Bible study, we must move on to positive things to do in Bible study so that your life will be changed and transformed as the Scripture tells us from one glory to another.
If you are stagnant in your Christian life and not beeing transformed it is because you have not spent time with God on your knees with His Word. Three questions you must ask yourself as you daily read the Scriptures.
1.What does the Bible say to the original reader? 2.What does the Bible mean by what it says? 3.How can this apply to me today. These are three questions we need to ask about what we read if we are to come up with truth and get anything out of what we read.
1. First, God has inspired over 40 writers over 1500 years to give us the Scriptures. And yet the first and the middle and the last all say the same thing and it all goes together, each written by a specific person at a specific time. We must ask ourselves, what did it mean to the original writer to whom God gave this revelation? Moses for example was writing to a group of people that were very different form those that the prophet Ezekiel spoke to. In Moses time they had no written scriptures yet. In Ezekiel’s day, he was speaking to a people who had read and known the commandments of God but yet rejected them and twisted God’s Word and rationalized it and tried to get it to suit themselves and their own life, much like many today. They understood the election to mean that they are better than everyone else rather than that it meant they had an extra responsibility and also accountability before God.
So these different writers were speaking at different times and in different places to a different generation in which things were different. Paul spoke to different groups of people in different cities but each time dealing with a specific and different problem that had arisen in that church. But the Holy Spirit was working out His purposes that in Paul’s writing of these letters to different people we can look at them today and see that every question or problem we might be facing or dealing with, Paul wrote the answer to one of those churches in his day.
2. Secondly, what does the Bible mean by what it says? Some people spurn the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Bible because these teachings do not make sense like the world makes sense to them. Remember the natural mind cannot receive the things of the spirit. The world says, if your angry, kick your enemy in the teeth and its okay. It’s understandable and makes a lot of sense to the world, but Jesus said, “love your enemy, bless those that curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who despitefully uses you and persecutes you. The world says, look out for number one because that is all that matters but Jesus said, “whoever tries to save his life will lose it but he who looses his life for my sake and the gospel will find it.” That doesn’t make sense to the world but it makes every sense to God and to those who love the Lord Jesus and are committed to Him.
Could you imagine a college recruiting motto saying “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me?” Yeah, best of luck. All the students want to know is what the college is going to offer them, how it will help them and what social life they will have and all the physically fleshly good stuff. So always ask yourself the question, “What does the Bible mean by what it says.”
You say, “How can I do that, or how can I know that for sure?” Before you read the scriptures, come under the authority of the Holy Spirit and ask Him to give you insight into the Scriptures you are about to read. Have a Bible dictionary and a concordance and when you run into something you don’t understand, look it up.
3. Third, how can this apply to me today? More often than not, if you begin your Bible reading by asking the Holy Spirit to give you insight and speak to you and tell you what the scriptures mean for you today, how to apply it to your life and situations today, He will. More often than not, it is probably rare to read the Word of God and not sense the Spirit of God speaking to me saying, “This is for you, The encouragement is for you, this rebuke is for you, this challenge is for you, this warning is for you, this exhortation is for you.”
There are a lot of ways and methods in which we can read the Bible and read through the Bible. There are different plans to read the Bible through in 365 days and other means to help you read the Scriptures and spend time in the Word and with God so that He san speak to you and show you things in your life that He wants to deal with and change in you and give you a word for your current situations you are facing in life that you might overcome and be victorious and have faith to go through what you are facing.
The Bible is our owner’s manual. God created us and knows us best and how we tick and why we do what we do and what we need to make it to heaven. Its time we considered our maker and what He has to say to us about our lives and the way to have a good, successful and prosperous life rather than trying to make our own way by our own wisdom and following our feeling, wants and desires which will always lead us astray for God said, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” Isaiah 55:7-9.
Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” We can do it God’s way or our way, but not both ways. We can come to Him and ask of Him direction, understanding, guidance and wisdom, or go by our own or other men’s wisdom and understanding. We can pick and choose scriptures we want to accept and doctrine we believe or decide to submit and humble ourselves before the authority of God’s Word and let it teach us. We can define for ourselves what God’s Word means to us or we can let God speak for Himself and let scripture define scripture and find our interpretation with the Word and not our own way of thinking of choosing. One is life, the other is deception.
There is a broad way that leads to destruction and a narrow way that leads to eternal life. Jesus said few, few among the religious, few among those who claim to know Him, will find the truth and eternal life, because they are willing to come His way and submit to His authority and obey Him. There rest are merely religious and deceived like the Pharisees of Jesus day who didn’t make it to heaven or those who say the great deliverance of God in Moses day, who also ended up in hell, with the heathen and unbelievers. Think about it and think soberly. God’s Word is true but most religious people just don’t want to believe what God says about many things, thinking they know better. Wrong! His way is the only way!
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