Reading and studying the Bible is great but if we don’t become doers of the word by applying scripture to our lives, there’s no point. God’s word is living and active and it’s meant to impact the way we live. But, I know applying scripture may not be the easiest thing to do. After all, the Bible was written many years ago. But while ancient Israel is significantly different than modern times, the Bible is timeless and its principles still apply.
So, how can we take what was happening then and the truths God revealed and learn what God is saying to us today? I’ll walk you through how you can do this and properly apply the Bible to your everyday life.
Why do we need to apply the Bible to our lives?
While the Bible was written a long time ago, it’s more than just an ancient book. The Bible is God’s way of revealing himself to us. We live our lives based on what we know is true about God. When we apply the Bible to our lives, we move from simply having head knowledge of scripture towards heart knowledge. Anyone can read the Bible and think they know God but only the people who read by the Spirit’s help and take his word to heart will truly know him.
The Bible is also a means of teaching, correction, and righteous living.
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 ESV
We all need to grow in our faith and relationship with God. If we only read and do not apply scripture, we’ll miss the spiritual growth that God intends for us.
Interpretation: good application comes from good interpretation
Before we can even think about applying scripture, we need to consider just how important careful interpretation is. If we interpret the Bible incorrectly, we’ll most likely end up applying it incorrectly too. This is dangerous because it leads to us living our lives based on a lie that seems rooted in scripture but isn’t really. We both know that people do some crazy things because of misinterpreted scripture.
So I suggest that you read, study, and use the proper tools to discover what the Bible is really saying. Be a good steward of God’s word and don’t take it lightly. Read it for what it says, not what you want it to say. Once you know what it really means, you can apply it well.
Example of a Bible Verse commonly misinterpreted and wrongly applied
Judge not, that you be not judged.Matthew 7:1 ESV
We all know this verse. Even non-Christians know it. We all love to quote it. But unfortunately it’s almost always taken out of context. Many people use this verse to mean that they can do anything they want to and no one is allowed to tell them whether it’s right or wrong. Ironically, many non-believers use this verse to condemn Christians for judging.
But Jesus didn’t tell us not to judge. In fact, we are called to judge righteously. (John 7:24)
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.Matthew 7:1-2 ESV
The point is that we aren’t supposed to be hypocrites. We cannot hold someone else up to a standard that we refuse to live by. Jesus is saying that if you judge your neighbor according to a specific standard, prepare to be judged by that standard as well. In other words, it’s not saying don’t judge. Instead, it’s saying judge people in the way you would want to be judged.
What happens when we misinterpret Matthew 7:1?
When we misinterpret this passage, we can unknowingly adopt the idea that everything is okay and nothing should be called out or spoken against. We think that we’re sinning if we righteously call out someone else’s wrong. This may cause us to live in fear of addressing hard topics and calling out wrong in our communities. Misinterpretation causes misapplication and we end up failing to be doers of the word.
What do we need to apply scripture?
We need the Holy Spirit and a teachable mind and heart.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.John 16:13 ESV
The Holy Spirit is our teacher. You can be the smartest person in the world and still miss Biblical application if you try to do it without the Holy Spirit. When you go to read, study, and apply scripture, always ask the Holy Spirit for help.
We also need a teachable heart and mind. If we come to scripture thinking that we already have all the answers or we’re coming to defend a theological position we already hold, we’re coming incorrectly. We need to come to scripture open to receive what God has to say, not what we want him to say.
5 Ways you can apply scripture to your life
Believe what the word says
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.Hebrews 11:6 ESV
There’s no point in reading the Bible if you don’t plan to also believe it. When you read, make an effort to believe what it says. Sometimes it won’t make sense. Sometimes it’ll contradict what you previously believe. Sometimes you’ll doubt. This is where you have the privilege of asking the Holy Spirit for help. He will open your eyes and help you to genuinely believe the words you are reading.
Remember key truths from scripture
You can apply the Bible to your life by remembering key truths. Remember promises, principles, commandments, and prayers. Don’t just read it, take it to heart and listen for what God might be saying to you through it.
Allow scripture to expose sin
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.Hebrews 4:12-13 ESV
Let God’s word reveal sin in your life and then confess it and ask him to help you. God’s word also purifies our hearts and leads us into sanctification. If the word is speaking to you, take it to heart.
Pray about what you’ve read
Don’t just read it, pray about it. Thank God for his word and pray that he would help you to live it out. You can also specifically pray using the words from the passage. This is known as praying scripture.
Here’s an article you can read to learn more about it: How to Pray the Scriptures: 4 Things to Get You Started
Align your life with what the Bible says
Finally, apply scripture by aligning your life with what it says. Sometimes we read the Bible and notice that it contradicts our lifestyle. Something needs to change. Well, the Bible is infallible. So it’s us that needs to be changed. Again, the Holy Spirit helps us with this. As the word convicts us of our sin and shortcomings, the Holy Spirit helps to transform us. But, we have to allow the Holy Spirit in so that he can do the work of changing us.
I hope this article was helpful! Have you been applying scripture to your life? Is there anything in particular that you do?