Applying the Bible – How can I do it in my life?
Properly applying the teachings of the Bible to your life is one of the most important things you can do as a Christian. James 1:22-25 explains why: "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing."
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But how do we apply the Bible to our lives? First, we must know it. This can involve listening to it, reading it, meditating on Scripture, memorizing God's Word, attending Bible study groups, and listening to Bible-focused preaching. It's hard to apply something you do not know, so it is important to actually read and study Scripture for yourself.
Next, to apply it properly involves connecting biblical principles to your life issues. A helpful process is to first identify the issue. Second, identify connecting biblical principles. Third, pray and seek wisdom for how to connect the biblical principles to your life issue.
For example, perhaps you are in a situation in which you are trying to decide how to respond to a personal problem with controlling your anger. The issue is learning to control anger. The connecting biblical principle could include many passages. However, two important ones include James 1:19 and Ephesians 4:22-24. James 1:19 teaches, "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger." One way to become angry less often or less easily is to listen better and wait to speak in response. This may not solve every issue, but will help to avoid many situations in which an angry outburst could increase problems.
Ephesians 4:22-24 adds another concept: "put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." Changing a negative habit is not only about stopping, but also about replacing the negative habit with a positive one. How could this relate to controlling your anger? Perhaps it is pausing 10 seconds before responding. Another new habit could be to instead stop to pray for the person or about the situation that is making you angry. These and other positive replacements can help reduce situations where angry outbursts take place.
Applying the Bible is an ongoing challenge every Christian must face. However, it is essential for all Christians to constantly grow in understanding of biblical principles that apply to life issues. This knowledge will help provide the information needed to respond to challenges and temptations you will face. Even Jesus used this method. When tempted three times in the desert, He responded each time by referring to Scripture that provided the needed answer. The ongoing process of study and application can serve as the key to improved spiritual growth, changing your life and the lives of others.
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