I get frustrated rather quickly with people who use scripture out of context. It is unfortunate that some people deliberately misuse scripture to find fault with Christianity. However, it is despicable for followers of Christ to ignore some scripture while using other verses out of proper meaning to justify their own desires. The human tendency toward sin is not new and in fact began with the first humans, Adam and Eve. It is note-worthy that leading up to the first sin was misquoting a command from God.
Here is the command in Genesis 2:15-17; The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. 16 But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden 17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”
Now read the account of the fall of man in Genesis 3:1-7
The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” 2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’” 4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” 6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. 7 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.
I wonder what caused Eve to add the words “or even touch it” to God’s command? The very first rule given to man was to allow freewill in following God. We were created with the ability to make a choice between obedience or disobedience. The first rule was given to Adam in the short time, possibly few hours, prior to Eve being created. Did Adam misquote God and add words to the command or did Eve invent the addition to the rule?
Using my imagination and taking liberties to envision what the scene was like. I can imagine the serpent holding a piece of forbidden fruit when he said “You won’t die!” It would be understandable how the woman would have been convinced of his lie if she believed the rule included “do not touch”. After all if the serpent could hold the fruit with no ill-effect maybe he was right about eating it to gain wisdom. The particulars of that day are not recorded and may not have happened in the way I just described. The point is that altering God’s command helped lead to the first sin.
Another passage to contemplate is Matthew 4:1-11 Matthew 4:1-11 (NLT) Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. 2 For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. 3 During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, 6 and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’ 7 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’ 8 Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” 10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’ 11 Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.
Jesus faced three common temptations. The first was to satisfy a normal human appetite in a manner not consistent with God’s word. The temptation was to use his divine power to meet his own physical needs. Jesus knew that God is the supplier of all our needs. He clearly understood the principle that God is responsible for sustaining us by his word. To overcome the temptation Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 which says … ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Jesus knew the word of God in proper context and did not sin when tempted to do things in his own way.
The second temptation Christ faced was to show off and prove he was the son of God. This time the devil quoted scripture out of context to tempt Jesus. The words the devil used were from Psalm 91:11-12…‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’ This was out of context because Psalm 91:9 says “if you make the Lord Most High your dwelling…then no harm will befall you.” The principle is God’s protection comes by living for Him, not by doing dangerous and foolish things. Once again Jesus overcame temptation by quoting scripture in proper context. When he said ‘You must not test the Lord your God’ Jesus was quoting Deuteronomy 6:16.
The third temptation the devil offered was an attempt to get Jesus to worship him. The bait the devil offered was a shortcut for Christ to rule over the earth. Jesus knew that he had to suffer death on a cross for our sins. Jesus could have taken an easy way out to gain Lordship over all the earth but he knew that was not God’s plan. Jesus knew scripture so he also knew we were created to only worship God.
It requires a lot of dedication to read the bible daily. To know the word of God is to know Jesus. All scripture points us to Christ. If you are to handle trials and temptations in life, you will need to know scripture in context. If you are using verses in an unloving, selfish manner, then you are not using them in context.
Rev. Burt Schwab