How To Do the Most Important (But Most Dangerous) Part of Bible Study


In Bible study, application is essential but dangerous. It is essential in that every Bible text has some kind of application to life. It has to, or else God wasted His and a lot of people’s time writing and preserving it. (In case you are wondering, God did not waste His time.)

Application is essential, but it can be dangerous because it can be done wrong. Remember the posts about observation (see here and here)? Incorrectly applying a text like “Judas went and hanged himself” can lead to some big-time neck burns!

Application must be done in order to take the Bible from the ancient world to today, but it must be done with the correct principles. Rather than pulling a verse out of context and making it mean something that God never intended, train yourself to put a little extra work into your study and figure out what God is really saying (interpretation). Then, obey the Bible.

Many people are really good at Observation and Interpretation. They can observe; they know how to read, study, memorize, recite, and interpret the Bible. They can tell you every Bible story from beginning to end. They have been in church since they were born and they can rattle off Bible verses like they are lyrics to the most popular songs.

They might even love God. They might be sincere. They might read their Bibles and really know a lot about God.

But they do not obey God.

They know a lot about the Bible—the stories, the highlights, the memory verses—but they do not know how to bring that knowledge down to real life. They know about the lives of Paul, Peter, Matthew, Daniel and Jesus, but they have never had faith like Peter or suffered the persecutions of Paul. They have never prayed like Christ or had a testimony like Daniel.

They know what church is but they have never worshiped. They know what type of music is right but they have never meant a word they have sung. They know that God is omnipresent—everywhere all at the same time—but have never changed what they do in private.

They have heard about the Philistines, Egyptians, and Samaritans but they do not know how they make any difference in today’s world. They know God wants them to be holy, but they do not block dirty shows on TV.

In short, most people know about God. They have heard a lot about Him, but they have never listened to Him.

Application makes the Bible real. Relevance is not just a buzzword in Christianity today, and it is not reserved for hip, cool preachers. Every text has relevance. Everywhere you turn in Scripture you will find a truth for you. If you think hard enough about it and know what God said, you will know what He is still saying today.


What Is God Saying To Me?

The first part of the BIBS process answers the question, “What is God saying?” We looked long and hard at how to hear God’s voice.

Once you hear God’s voice, realize that it is not just a voice of the past. It is also a voice in the present. It is not only that God said it in the past, but right now in the present He is saying it still.

If God is still saying what He said in the past, ask yourself, “What is God saying to me?” Every truth can help you in some way.


Step 10: Apply

There is only one interpretation to each passage—there is only one right answer to what God said—but, when it comes to application (what God is saying to me) there are several directions to take. What applies to you may not be what applies to someone else, and vice versa.

In order to apply the text to your life, ask yourself, “Overall, what did I learn?”

God speaks in many different ways through His Word. In your Bible study, maybe He spoke to you from one word, one phrase or the Big Idea. God is always speaking through His Word, so how did He speak to you through this text? How does it apply to you? What did you learn from it? How has it helped you? How has it encouraged you? What did it challenge you to do?

Application is where the hard work begins. It is easy to learn stuff about God. It is easy to know that you are supposed to watch your mouth, guard your mind, be in church, give the gospel, care for others, obey your parents and more.

Bible truths are easy to know but difficult to live. Every day should be a serious time between you and God. First, pray and ask Him to reveal hidden sin. Next, ask Him to help you overcome it. Finally, ask Him if there is even anything small in your life that could be changed. He will reveal sins in your life, and it is your job to change them through His power. Application requires a clear-minded, openhearted soul searching time before God.


Self deception

James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

According to James 1:22, the more you hear the Word and do nothing about it, the more self-deceived you become. That is scary… you do not even know right now if you are deceived (otherwise you would not be deceived!).

Does that concern you? No one likes to be deceived. No one wants to be tricked or lied to. No one likes the feeling of the others going behind their backs.

If you do not want to be deceived, then obey God. You are only sure about anything in life when you are hearing God’s Word and obeying it.

Conversely, every time you hear and understand it, but do nothing to obey it, you are adding to your own self deception. It is partly your own fault when you find out that you are deceived. Be a doer of the Word and not just a hearer.


DO Something!

Determine to not only know stuff about the Bible but to actually do stuff with your knowledge. If the Big Idea you find is, “Paul’s desire to see the Thessalonians walk worthy drove him to self sacrifice,” (taken from 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12) you can respond a couple different ways:

“That’s nice. Paul sacrificed for others. What a swell guy. Time for me to go to school!”


“Wow. Paul was so passionate about helping others, he sacrificed a lot. How have I sacrificed lately? I really haven’t. Maybe I should.

“What can I sacrifice?! I’m nothing special. What do I have to give in self-sacrifice?

“Well, I guess I DO have a little money. It’s not much, but I know I need to sacrifice something, so I’m going to start giving to missions every week by faith.

“I don’t have much, but I DO have some spare time. I waste a lot on video games. I doubt Paul did that. I need to spend my time better. I’m going to limit my video games to 1 hour and spend the rest of the time on my devotions (or exercise, or writing notes, or…)

“I don’t have much experience, but I CAN work. I want to donate my youth and my energy to help out wherever I can. Not for payment but to simply serve. I’ll call the church today to see where I can volunteer.”


Make a plan

Once you have decided to do something, write out your plan. Be specific.

So that I am not deceived, I plan to:

  • Sacrifice by committing to $2/week.
  • Time my video games and stop at one hour total. I’ll spend the spare time doing my chores, reading ____ (name the book), writing encouraging notes to _____ (name the people), and exercising for ___ minutes per day.
  • I’m going to call my youth pastor and set up a time to do yard work around the church. I’ll also ask him this week at church if there’s anything I can do throughout the week.

Specifically, what is one thing you can do this week that will be acting on what you have learned from God’s Word?

Make a plan and write it down.


Conclude in prayer

God speaks and you respond by promising to act on His Word. Conclude your devotions in prayer and ask God’s help and strength to keep your commitments. (Daniel 1:8)