5 Potentially Harmful Bible Study Methods

5 Potentially Harmful Bible Study Methods

Whether you are new to Bible study or have been a diligent scholar of God’s word for many years, it is always good to examine the methods you use during your personal studies. How we handle the precious truth in God’s word matters! After all, His Word is a weapon, and a weapon used improperly causes more harm than good. Here are some potentially harmful methods that most of us have used at one time or another when approaching our Bible study. Read all 5 of the methods and discover the remedy for each!

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  • 1. <strong>Open and Point Method</strong>:

    1. Open and Point Method:

    Who among us hasn’t done this? Sometimes we are desperate to hear from God, and since we know He speaks through His word, we open the Bible and point to a verse. There have been times in my life I have done this and have been amazed at what the Lord showed me and how He met my need. But a certain time in particular stands out because God taught me the requirement for discernment when using this method. 

    One day, after receiving the news that my Non-Hodgkins lymphoma had returned, I was desperate to read a verse that would give me encouragement and strength. I used the “Open and Point Method” to discover what the Lord might want to say to me. Shockingly, the verse I pointed to was this: “I will prepare your grave, for you are vile” (Nahum 1:14).  After I got over the shock, I relied on the knowledge I had gained from years of walking with the Lord, and I knew this message was not meant for me. I know my Shepherd’s voice, and I also know not to misapply His word. This Scripture, in its context, was meant for Ninevah, which was a faithless and ruthless society. God’s word, incorrectly handled, can cause us to fear or mistrust—but fear is never from God. If you decide to use the “Open and Point Method,” do it with wisdom, always considering the context of the verses you are reading. 

    Remedy: Consider the need for discernment and wisdom, and use it when applying what you read.

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  • <strong>2. Taking Verses Out of Context Method</strong>:

    2. Taking Verses Out of Context Method:

    I love seeing Scripture written on cute frames or other household items, but there have been times where I read a “decorative verse” that was changed just enough to change the entire meaning. Taking Scripture out of context can be dangerous because we might begin to believe something about ourselves or God that His word never meant to communicate. For instance, I have heard people claim “everything works together for good,” but taking part of a Bible verse out of context is like trying to claim a prize with only half of a claim ticket! 

    When we read the entire context and surrounding passage, we learn that there are qualifiers on that popular statement. If you have not read them before, please read these verses that embody the entire truth Paul was writing to the Romans:  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Romans 8:28-29). Paul is saying that God works in all things for the good of those who love Him and have been called by Him by using those things to conform us into the image of Christ. This exciting truth would be completely missed if we only believed one portion of the full treasure of God’s word to us. Do you want to gain a full understanding of all the promises that are yours in Christ? Then read the entire text.  

    Remedy: Consider the entire context of the verse by reading the passage around it.

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  • 3. <strong>The Justify My Position Method</strong>:

    3. The Justify My Position Method:

    Have you ever had conflict with a fellow believer, then searched for a verse to prove that you are in the right? Have you read a Scripture verse and said to yourself, “Aha! This is exactly what (that person) is doing wrong. They are (gossiping, judging, lying, etc.) and here is the Scripture that shows they are in the wrong.” No? Well, I have! Having the thought is not sinful, but what you do with the thought can cause real harm. Taking Scripture and using it to further stoke conflict and bolster your position of being “right” is always wrong. God’s word is a weapon that we can use to battle our sinful nature and temptation, but it is not a weapon we should use to bully or harm others. 

    “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). When we use Scripture to correct or rebuke a fellow believer who is walking in error, we must do it with gentleness and without pride. Galatians 6:1 says, “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 may also be tempted.” We must use God’s Word wisely, and with gentleness, trusting that the Holy Spirit can convict a wayward heart better than our angry words or frustrated arguing. Be careful that everything you do is done in love (See 1 Corinthians 16:14). 

    Remedy: Consider your own sin before showing someone else theirs, and when you use Scripture to correct or rebuke, do so in gentleness and with love. 

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  • 4. The "Not for Me" Method:&nbsp;

    4. The "Not for Me" Method: 

    When I was a new believer, I focused on reading the New Testament. Although it was a wonderful place to start learning about the Lord, I completely ignored the Old Testament, reasoning that the “law” was over and the grace of the New Testament was all I needed. I was wrong in neglecting to read all of the Bible, and I am grateful that God corrected me. Having a deeper understanding of all of Scripture is necessary for your faith and growth as a believer. Have you ever ignored complicated or “boring” chapters, reasoning that they are too hard to understand or that they are not relevant? Have you dismissed portions of the Bible, thinking that they are for “smarter” or more educated people? They are for you, too, or they would not be in the Bible! 

    There are many ways you can begin to approach learning about those books of the Bible that have always seemed too complicated. You can find a Bible study at your church, or look online at the courses that Bible Study Fellowship or Community Bible Study are offering in your area. My foray into a deeper understanding of Scripture began in one such study, when I learned about the minor prophets of the Old Testament. I marveled at the prophesy God had fulfilled in Christ, and my faith increased as I was able to learn truths that had previously seemed too difficult for me. I also met a sister in Christ who became my dearest friend, a blessing I would have missed out on if either of us had not obeyed the call of God to pursue this particular Bible study. You never know what gifts you will receive when you determine to learn from the entirety of God’s Word.

    Remedy: Consider it all true; the entire Bible is meant for you!

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  • <strong>5. The “Scenic View” Method</strong>:

    5. The “Scenic View” Method:

    I love the Book of Psalms because they give me comfort. When I am having my quiet time, and cannot decide what to read, I tend to gravitate there. There are certain sections of my Bible that have been read so much the pages are falling apart. I love these passages because of the encouragement I receive from them. But if we read only the books or verses that make us “feel good,” we will miss out on much that God has to teach us. 

    Have you ever opened your Bible to look for verses that would bring you peace and encouragement but ignored the ones that convicted you? If we do this, it is to our peril. The Bible is a guidebook for life that leads us to eternal life. After all, if you are headed somewhere, you need a map. When my husband and I visited Hawaii, we had to follow directions to get to our hotel. If we had ignored roads that took us past the lava rock we disliked, in favor of driving only along the ocean routes we loved, we would never have reached our destination. Decide today that you will allow all of God’s word to guide your life. 

    Remedy: Consider the Bible your guidebook; every direction in it helps you reach your destination.

    Andrea Herzer has endured 17 years of multiple illnesses, including Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, and is intimately acquainted with the hardships that accompany debilitating health issues. She writes devotionals for her Facebook Group and she is writing her first book, The Way Through Illness, to help others find the pathway to living an abundant life in the midst of pain and suffering.

    Andrea lives in Texas with her remarkable husband, Mark.They have three nearly grown children, Carly, Sarah, and Zach. For interest in speaking engagements or her book, she can be reached here.

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    andrea-herzer-headshotAndrea Herzer is a writer who helps those with health issues defy their diagnosis by discovering the beautiful riches of God's sustaining love. Although she navigates life with debilitating pain and cancer, she loves to share her infectious joy and incurable faith in Christ. Andrea lives in Central Texas with her remarkable husband Mark; they are blessed with three grown children. She is currently pursuing the publication of her first book.

    Say hello to encouragement by signing up for free weekly devotionals, Scripture-filled prayers, and surprises to brighten your day on her website. Andrea founded her Facebook Group, Abundant Life for Abundant Illness to encourage others who suffer from health issues. You can also visit her on Instagram and Facebook.