When I held my new Bible in my hands, I didn’t know where to start. It was 2004, and I just given my life to the Lord. Everything about Church, God, and the Bible felt so wonderous, awesome, and novel. I knew the Bible was the key to this new life, but I didn’t know how to apply it.
Have you ever questioned what is the key to applying the Bible to your life? Rest assured every believer, both new and seasoned, questions this.
The foundation of this question is what I was taught as a new believer: to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind,”(Matthew 22:37). We learn what this means and how to do it by reading and meditating on the Bible daily.
What is the Bible?
The word Bible comes from Greek and Latin words meaning, “Book.” According to the Webster’s dictionary, the term was first used in the 13th century and defined as the sacred scriptures of Christians comprising the Old Testament and the New Testament.
It is made up of 66 books with 40 different authors. These authors were fishermen, government officials, farmers, shepherds, doctors, priests, and kings written over a period of 1,500 years. Each author wrote under in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. 2 Timothy reminds us that every word of the Bible is relevant and still applies to our lives today.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2 Timothy 3:16, NLT).
Love the Lord your God with your heart, soul, and mind.
When the Jewish religious leaders asked Jesus what the most important commandment was, Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment,” (Matthew 22:37). Jesus’ words mirror the passage from the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 6:5.
This passage is threaded throughout both the Old and New Testaments as our foundation because God knew that a relationship with Him is from the heart. (Deuteronomy 10:12, Deuteronomy 13:3, 1 Samuel 7:3, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27)
Because God created us, He intimately knows our hearts. And He reminds us in Proverbs 4:23, “From the heart, flow the springs of life.”
Without our hearts grounded the Bible, our passions, desires, thoughts, perceptions, and affections would not be aligned with God. We were created with our will, our heart, our desires, and our thoughts. The truth of this passage in Matthew 22:37 means that every part of our lives needs to be filtered and refined through our relationship with God.
In other words, there needs to be an authentic love for God that starts with God-oriented thoughts, behavior, desires, and affections. The book of James explains why:
"But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it" (James 1:22-25).
It seems like a lot doesn’t it? But here’s the thing: As we love God, His Word begins to change our spirit, which creates a ripple effect in every area of our lives.
How Do I Apply the Bible to Life?
To apply the Bible, we must know the Bible. This means we listen to it, we read it, meditating on Scripture day and night.
Recently, at a writer’s conference, I heard how Billy Graham incorporated the Bible to his daily. In his office, his Bible would always be open on his desk. And several times a day, he would pick it up to read.
Hellen Keller had a similar idea when she said, “Unless we form the habit of going to the Bible in bright moments as well as in trouble, we cannot fully respond to its consolations because we lack equilibrium between light and darkness.”
1. Learn God’s Ways
Our goal in reading the Bible is to get to know God’s ways and to understand his purpose for the world and for ourselves. As we turn the pages, His heart and love for us is revealed. We learn why he created the world, his past interactions with humanity, and His plan to redeem us. Most importantly, we learn about His character and heart.
2. Live God’s Ways
Next, we begin to hide God’s word in our hearts (Psalm 119:11). Knowing God’s word enables us to filter our lives through the Bible. It opens our eyes to what godly living looks like. The Holy Spirit will help us apply the Bible to our lives, as He whispers His love and directions for us.
Instead of cursing or speaking carelessly (Matthew 12:36), we find ourselves choosing our words carefully. Instead of watching unhealthy or unholy TV (Matthew 6:22, Matthew 5:28), we find ourselves navigating to a more wholesome show (or just turning it off). Instead of making impulsive decisions, we find ourselves asking God if applying for that job or dating that person is what He wants for us.
One of the ways I learned to apply the Bible to my life was through the S.O.A.P. method. It helps interact with God’s word so you can discover life principles and truths for your daily walk with the Lord.
- S – Scripture. You can write out Scriptures in a notebook.
- O– Observation. This step encourages you to interact with the Scriptures that you have written out in your notebook. During this step you basically ask yourself: What do I see, and what does it mean?
- A – Application. This step encourages you to make God’s word personal in your life. What is God saying to me today? Do I need to make changes? Do I need to take an action?
- P – Prayer. This step involves asking God to work in your life concerning the truths you’ve just discovered.
The Holy Spirit will help you apply the Bible to your life.
When we first gave our hearts to God, he filled us with the Holy Spirit who speaks to us and leads us in truth—God’s truth. As we read the Bible, the Holy Spirit will guide us to understand it and live out God’s ways.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).
Heather Riggleman calls Nebraska home (Hey, it’s not for everyone). She writes to bring through bold truths and raw faith about marriage, career, mental health, depression, faith, relationships, celebration and heartache. Heather is a former national award-winning journalist and is the author of Mama Needs a Time Out and Let’s Talk About Prayer. Her work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, MOPS, Today's Christian Woman and Focus On the Family. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Priscilla du Preez