Context (noun): The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.
The Bible is the most popular and most sold book in the history of the world. It is an important book that many attempt live their lives by. However, this can become a very dangerous book in a very bad way when not used correctly. It is crucial to study and understand the Bible in the context it was written. In the next few blogs I am going to go over some of the most misused Bible verses as I read Eric Bargerhuff’s, “The Most Misused Verses in the Bible.” I will be pulling from his ideas, and my own as well. Hopefully to challenge us all to understand scripture better, instead of spouting off what sounds good.
Why is it dangerous to misquote or misuse scripture? Well, first of all this is a tactic the enemy uses against us since the beginning of time. We see it in Genesis 3 when Satan misquotes what God said to Eve.
“….. Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1.
God never said that but here Satan twist God’s Word to deceive humanity. Also, it shows us why we should know the Word and what is says because Eve right after adds to what God said. If we want to live by the Word shouldn’t we know it? How can we know it if we do not study it? Also, we see that Satan does this also to Jesus in the New Testament in the wilderness as Jesus was preparing for his earthly ministry. The third time he tempts Jesus he actually quotes correctly from Psalms 91, but he takes it out of context. Friends we must know the Word otherwise we will lead others astray just as the enemy attempted to do. Especially those you who lead Bible studies, teach, and preach because as Dr. Wayne Grudem put it, “You better get it right, because people will believe you, and as teachers we will all have to give an account one day.
This leads us to our first verses in this series coming from Matthew in the 7th Chapter and verse 1.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged….”
Eric says it like this in the book, “These famous words from Jesus are recited by many but profoundly misunderstood, One could easily argue that Matthew 7:1 is by far the most frequently misapplied verse in the entire Bible, used and abused by both Christians and non-Christians alike.” This verse is a quick defense for those who are called out on their sin. People use to say it is not your job to judge me, don’t bring up my sin. It is used to justify our own convictions, and our lifestyles. We are all sinners, people will typically add when quoting this. It’s not out place to judge, but God’s. Sound familiar? Maybe you have even used it because that is how you have heard it taught. We are not supposed to call people out in sin. Then how do we know we are in sin? As believers we should welcome other believers coming to us in love to show us our errors.
Let’s take a closer look at the context of the verse, and also other scripture that relates to the topic. After all, scripture is God-breathed and cannot and will not contradict itself. This verse is not to be used as an excuse to live as you wish and not let others call you out for it, no it is not saying the accountability has no place in the church refusing to allow anyone to make moral judgments in any sense. “Quiet the opposite, Jesus was explicitly rebuking the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, who were quick to see the sins of others but were blind and unwilling to hold themselves accountable to the same standard they were imposing on everyone else.”
So let us look at this verse in the context in which Jesus spoke. This is said during on of Christ most popular events, the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is teaching what it looks like to radically follow him and his teachings. These words he may have spoken while looking at the Pharisees. Don’t stop with verse one but read through five:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
You see the Pharisees were very hypocritical people as many of you may know. They were often quick to judge others, and go an act the same way without repentance. It is like if a father gets on to his daughter for the way she is dressed. He may even be right that the way she is dressed is not appropriate and could lead others to lust and respect her less. However, if when the daughter leaves the father gets online and looks up pornography he is a hypocrite for judging her and then acting on the same sin. In the way he did want his daughter to appear, is the same sin he is falling into that desire of other women. This verse is speaking to those who are quick to speak of others shortcoming quickly, but do not even see or repent from the sin in their life! Jesus is saying stop judging others in an hypocritical fashion, and get the sin out of your life. How can we correct when we have mess in our life? That is the point of the analogy of the plank and the saw dust. Why call out their sin when you have this huge sin everyone else can see in your life? Get yourself in order first.
However, this does not mean we are not hold one another accountable. I praise God that I lived in a house in college with men who would call me out in my sin, and I could in their life, Not only was it allowed or encouraged it was expected. My college minister puts it best, “Christianity is a team sport.” The Bible is clear that we are to spur one another own in our faith and in our lives, to live worthy of the calling we have received. We are called to rebuke, correct, and encourage one another in love.
James 5:19-20: “My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”
As we see in scripture that we are expected call our brothers and sisters out of sin. If they are walking in darkness or down a sinful path we should go and help out brothers and sisters. I know if that is me I expect the accountability in my life to come along side me. The Bible doesn’t stop there though! Read what Paul writes to the Galatians.
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6: 1-2
Do not read Matthew 7:1 in a way that forbids people from judging sin in your life. If you profess to be a Christian and live in a manner contrary to the Gospel it will happen. There is only one way to approach it and that is in love (and the Matthew 18 approach), but you better believe it should be addressed. We are the light to the darkness and if you profess Christ but live differently you make it a lot harder on the rest of us.
The Bible has authority and power. God spoke it and inspired it, just like He spoke the earth into creation. When we speak the words of the Bible we speak with authority given to us through Christ, and those words have power. Make sure friends we are using them in context and correctly. In love and aspiring to make much of Jesus, and making him known to all the nations.
Do not conform scripture in a way to justify how you live, but use it as a way to live your life to show others Christ!
“15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Ephesians 5:15-17