Contextual Matters

What people get wrong about God is usually based on their out of context scripture usage. There’s a few examples that come to mind. Maybe you have more (put them in the comments!), but here’s a couple I’ve always heard the most that probably just burn my biscuits more than the others, I guess.

***Just a note: I was once an immature Christian. I once was one who thought I knew all I needed to know: That Jesus was God’s Son and I believed, I was saved and that was all that mattered. I don’t need to read and understand all the words. Years ago, I felt like I was missing something in life and decided to dig deeper and be able to properly defend my faith. This is a product of that. I still don’t know all I need to know about God, but acknowledging my need for His Word is a step in the right direction.

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. ~ Philippians 4:13

This verse ~ omg ~ always out of context. A lot of athletes use this, not all of them use it out of context, just a simple statement since they need strength to be an athlete. In general though, people use this verse to justify them doing what they want. “I can do anything because God is on my side” is essentially what they’re saying. Is He on your side? Or are you just using God there to make yourself feel better about your choices? Is what you’re doing consistent with the Word of God? If not, I doubt He’s actually on your team and God will not be used. On the contrary, He uses you for His purposes.

Furthermore, God will give you strength for the purposes He has given you, just as Paul endured all his hardships for the sake of the Gospel. Do you think He would willingly give you strength for something against Him? For something He hasn’t planned for you? In your trials of getting out, when you ask for His strength, He will provide all you need to endure and make it out with greater faith – He doesn’t just take you out of your situation. He wants to build your faith and your endurance. This helps you mature.

If it helps you, think about when this was written and who wrote it. Paul wrote this… while in prison. He was persecuted, yet was able to endure all his sufferings with Christ.

Remember, you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength… when you’re content and obey the call of Christ.

Do not judge others and you will not be judged. ~ Matthew 7:1

I would just like to take a moment to facepalm this one.

This is actually not saying “no one has authority but God to judge me” as it is most of the time used. “Only God can judge me” does not come from the Bible, if you can believe that… (I encourage you to read the Bible completely and then reevaluate here).

This verse and the verses around it state that you must first check yourself, that you are not committing the same or worse sin when pointing out someone else’s. That is the hypocrite in that scenario – someone pointing out a sin when they commit the same or worse sin as the other person. Hypocrisy is not just a sinner in general pointing out another sinner’s sin. It’s far deeper than that and involves evaluation and repentance.

Later, Jesus states in the book of Matthew that we need to be aware of false prophets. How do you know of such things if we are not judging someone by their fruits (actions and teachings)?

In John chapter 8, the woman caught in adultery speaks with Jesus. The woman was brought before him by the scribes and the Pharisees. In the Law of Moses, it was custom to stone such a woman for her deeds. This was a test on Jesus, but we see something else here. Jesus asks them he who is without sin may cast the first stone. One by one they left. Something else that people look over is that at the end, the woman is asked where they are and who has condemned her. She replies to Him that no one has condemned her. He then says that he does not condemn her, to go and sin no more. This part is what people don’t like. Jesus didn’t simply tell her to continue living your life, no one can judge you and I don’t care what you do. He does care. He wants you to have a fulfilling life, but not filled with fleshly desires, dead inside because of the sin we let fester and grow until it consumes us. We are to turn away from sin, not simply acknowledge we are a sinner and continue to sin. That is something that isn’t condoned anywhere in the Bible.

By telling someone else not to judge, did you not just judge that other person? Is that not hypocritical?

What about… the justice system? Are not criminals judged by their actions? Have they not sinned? Our society has set in place certain sins with different penalties. These sins are no different than the written commandments. Under God, we are all sinners because we are human and we fail every day.

What do you do with all this sin, then? Your best course of action is asking God to reveal such things to you through prayer and reading His word. If you’re refusing to believe you’re a sinner or you’re having trouble finding your sin, it may be due to your unbelief – either in the sin (no, that’s not really a sin) or in God Himself (perhaps that He would reveal such sin to you or He’s not going to care since you’re already saved). Your next step would be to repent. Yes, as believing and already saved Christians, we are called to repent still! We still sin. Our call to following Christ was not a one time thing, it’s a lifelong commitment of taking up the cross and obeying every single day. It’s a lot of work sometimes, but at the end of the day, you can do it with joy and peace only offered by Him.

In these cases, sometimes we just need someone who notices those changes and for them to point out those sins and hope that we would turn from our sinful ways and get back to God and what He has called us to.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

1 John 4:1 ESV

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. Purge the evil person from among you.

1 Corinthians 5:12-13 ESV

Written in Matthew 18:15-20 are the steps to take if a brother or sister in Christ has sinned against you. We as a church body, as a whole, do not always follow this or do a very good job of correctly and Biblically calling out these things. It’s hard to do, there’s really no good way to describe the ways it’s hard – I’m sure you can figure that out as most things that need to be done are hard to do while the easy things to do are not what needs to be done.

What Matters

Quoting scripture out of context reveals ignorance. It reminds us to read, read, read the Bible in it’s entirety and understand the Author Himself. We can also see how easily scripture can be used for our own purposes instead of reading the Bible to apply such verses to our lives. I’ve learned so much by just reading through chapters and books of the Bible that I wouldn’t had I just not. I get the full picture of what the author of those books are saying and later, after reading other chapters and books, I’m able to draw connections and consistencies throughout.

Again, if you have other scriptures that have popularly been taken out of context, drop them in the comments along with any further commentary you may have on this topic. I’d love to hear what you have to say!

What are your thoughts on this?

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