Studying the Bible Can Be Dangerous

 

I am a huge advocate for Bible study. I believe it is the one thing that will consistently change and transform your life the more one studies it. I don’t mean just read a few verses here and there or read it as a pastor teaches. No, I mean take it and tear it apart and interrogate the text. It. Will. Transform. You.

Still, there are a couple of dangers in a person studying the Bible. Read that again. The danger is the person studying, not the Bible itself.

I am human and with being human I am sinful, selfish, prideful, and everything in between. That means apart from God’s Spirit, I would not be able to fully understand the Bible. (1 Cor. 2:11) So here are a couple of dangers:

1. Misinterpretation leads to Bad Application:

One of the steps to Inductive Bible study is interpretation. We teach it here at  Transform Student Ministries. I have done this countless times. The danger with misinterpreting scripture is that my belief system starts to act upon that misinterpretation. My whole life style is affected by bad doctrine. So let me give an example in my life:

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” Matthew 7:1

Reading that verse by itself, I thought that I should never judge and that judgment was wrong. I would be a bad Christian if I was judging others. Sounds good right? But is it sound?

Context is that I first must look at my own life before I make a judgment to edify my brother. Matthew 7:2-5

What does the end of verse 5 say? “…and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

See? There is still an action. Everyone makes judgments every day however I must always remember that I am no better than anyone else apart from Christ.

Also see 1 Corinthians 5, especially verses 9-13. See what are we to do? Who are we to judge? Who are we not to judge?

2. Studying the Bible Could Make Me Prideful:

Again, being human it is easy for me to be so prideful. When I study the Bible for long periods of time, I have to preach the gospel to myself over and over. I just look at the definition of pride and think yep that is my heart. I have to remind myself that apart from Christ’s righteousness, I still deserve the wrath of God. Still my heart deceives me saying to me, “Look at how much time you spent studying God’s Word. Look how much you know! You have earned respect and deserve it!” Sadly, that is a lie that easily can deceive anyone that spends time studying God’s Word.

I believe knowledge is good, see Prov. 1:7, but there is a knowledge that is arrogant as well. 1 Cor 8:1 is another verse that is usually misinterpreted and becomes bad doctrine.

It states, “Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.” He goes on to explain in v. 2-6 the love of God and how we know there are so-called “gods” but we know that there is one God. Some people were eating the food that was sacrificed to these idols and Paul says, “it’s okay, you know it’s just food.” However, “not all men have this knowledge…and so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.” 1 Cor 8:7;12

The certain believers thought they were better than their weak brothers because of the knowledge they knew gave them freedom to eat. It was a wrong motive for the knowledge given. (see also Rom 14:19-23)

That is where the danger lies with those who study God’s Word. First, that we misinterpret God’s Word and consequently living accordingly. Second, we allow the work and knowledge of our study to become a self-esteem booster as if we have earned God’s esteem.

Did not your father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Is not this to know me? declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 22:15b-16

Take Away:

I have to remember that studying the Word of God is vital for my communication with God. It is the heartbeat of my relationship with Him. However, I constantly have to remind myself that I am not allowing my own worldview guide my interpretation of the Word but to allow the Word to interpret my worldview. Also, I have to remind my heart that a true knowledge of God will cause me to act upon love toward others and not build myself up. God created us. He died on the cross for all. Let us encourage others to discover, go deeper, and disciple others in God’s Word!

 

Ryan Thomason works with Transform Student Ministries as the product development and events coordinator. He has voluntarily served Precept Ministries for close to 10 years before coming on staff full time. He has interned with their media department in 2008 and with the student ministry in 2009. He has lived in Guatemala to learn Spanish.

“I have become its servant, according to God’s administration that was given to me for you, to make God’s message fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to His saints.” Colossions 1:25-26

 

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One Response

09.17.12

Great challenge and thoughts. I agree with your two points. I also love the quote, “I constantly have to remind myself that I am not allowing my own worldview guide my interpretation of the Word but to allow the Word to interpret my worldview.”

I think another danger is that we can assume more information will lead to transformation. We must, as you alluded to, live this out in our lives and that studying the Bible is a must it is not the end game. We have to live it out and many times when we live it out, the Word comes to life even more.

Thanks for the article.
Phil

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