- The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. Revelation 16:8 ESV
- While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. I Thessalonians 5:3 ESV
- Therefore fathers shall eat their sons in your midst, and sons shall eat their fathers. And I will execute judgments on you, and any of you who survive I will scatter to all the winds. Ezekiel 5:10 ESV
- “Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble. Jeremiah 11:14 ESV
- I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves! Galatians 5:12 ESV
- Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” Job 2:9 ESV
These passages would make a great Sunday morning sermon, wouldn’t they? Especially if they were presented like this, with no context, right?
NO! How much damage would be done, if a pastor did this? The words of the Bible can be twisted, manipulated, misused, and abused, for both evil and good intentions, if taken out of context.
Keep the Bible in context.
We wouldn’t dare, at least I hope not, use the verses above out of context, so why do we with passages like these?:
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 ESV
This passage, it is meant for great encouragement, but it is often misused. For example, a NFL quarterback wins a Sunday afternoon game, and then quotes Philippians 4:13. True, he should be giving all glory to God, but at the same time he’s still taking this verse out of context. It would be more appropriate for the quarterback to use this verse if he lost the game, for Paul wrote these very words while he was in prison. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:12-13 ESV. Paul is saying that because of God, he can face any trial, any trouble, or any failure, because it is his Lord, who gives him the strength to do so.
“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. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:1-5 ESV
How often I hear these verses misused, especially in today’s society. “Don’t judge me, man,” but this is not what this passage is saying. It says to judge with the same measure that you want to be judged. Personally, I want someone to hold me accountable, so if I screw up and I’m doing something stupid, I want someone to tell me. However, how should they tell me? With humbleness and love. They’re supposed to first remove their pride, remove the log from their own eye, before they confront me, and remove the sawdust from my eye. How much differently would the world change, if we used this passage within this context?–Additionally, this passage does not give us permission to condemn people to Hell. Firstly, because we have no authority to do so. Secondly, it is not our place. And lastly, because we don’t know. We can make assumptions by someone’s actions, yet still, we can’t know, for actions can be acted and actions cannot save. Sadly, there are probably people who sit in the pews of your congregation who look and act like Christians, but they ain’t. We cannot see the hearts of others; the only person that you can know 100% if he or she is going to Heaven or Hell, is yourself.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not condemning using a single verse in a circumstance, for it’s far easier to quote a verse than a novel, and did not Jesus use single verses in his defense while he was tempted in the wilderness? However, use that verse in the context that it was written in. To quote my Hermeneutics teacher: “A verse can never mean something now, that it never meant then.”–Dr. Crenshaw