For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword… (Hebrews 4:12).
The Bible is a supernatural book that can bring power into our lives. Yet many read it without any profit and remain powerless. If that’s the case, a different approach is necessary. Come to the Word with prayer, avoid making these common mistakes, and find renewal for your spiritual walk…
10 Mistakes to Avoid When Reading the Bible
1. Reading it too fast. The Bible is a supernatural book and not a novel. It requires your deliberate attention. Search for meaning in it as you would for gold.
Meditation is the process of going over a text or section and thinking about it repeatedly. What did it mean in its original context? How does it apply today? What does it teach about God or man? How might I worship God because of what I’ve read?
2. Focusing more on the things you don’t understand. It’s good to wrestle with hard passages, and sometimes great revelation comes. But don’t get stuck. If you don’t understand something now, you may later.
Don’t stumble. If something doesn’t make sense, move on to what does make sense. Don’t give up. Much of the Bible is hard to read, but much of it is also easy. Move on to what you can handle.
3. Trying too hard to make everything fit into a rigid system of theology. Certain scriptures will come up that challenge your theology. Sometimes you will be able to understand how it fits, but other times you won’t. Resist the temptation to twist the Scripture to mean something it doesn’t. Understand that God is bigger than our theological boxes that try to contain Him.
Learn how to be free and say, “I don’t understand how this fits.”
4. Applying Old Testament law to our lives and failing to understand that we live in the new covenant of grace. God is not operating in the anger and judgment that came with the law. Because of the cross, He deals differently with us now. See Freedom in Christ.
5. Interpreting the New Testament through the lens of the Old when it should be the other way around. Jesus is the “express image” of God (Hebrews 1:3). That means that He and His Words best represent God. If there seem to be conflicting ideas between the Testaments, the New Testament should prevail.
God gave revelation progressively through history. For example, when David prayed, “take not thy holy spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11), Jesus had not yet finished God’s redemptive work. Now on this side of the cross, those who believe are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph.1:13). He’s not going away.
6. Reading it out of a sense of duty, or just to feel you have done something good. Instead, read it as your daily bread- your spiritual nutrition. Read it to discover the good news of who you are in Christ, what you have in Christ, and how to live victoriously in Christ.
7. Reading it without taking it personally. When it says, “grace and peace to you,” take it personally and thank God. It was written to others, but it applies to you as well. When it speaks of God’s love, believe it. When you see an encouraging promise, take it and say, “That’s mine!”
8. Reading it more to build up a set of proof texts or to confirm a creed than to find out what you can use to draw closer to God. There are scholars who quote the Bible but don’t know God. Read devotionally, with prayer and worship. The goal is to know Him through it.
9. Reading different verses or chapters here and there with no plan. Don’t just take a page from a devotion book. Read through entire books of the Bible, progressing a chapter or two each day if possible. This way, you will begin to understand the context and the big picture. Devotion books are fine for snacking, but they shouldn’t be the main meal.
It’s a good idea to read a chapter or two in both the Old and New Testaments daily. You could work through Genesis while working through the Gospel of Matthew.
10. Reading it without a sense of expectation and faith that the Lord will speak to you through it. Mix faith with the Word and success will come.
Can you think of any other mistakes to avoid when reading the Bible? Leave comments below!