According to Biblegateway.com the following 10 Bible verses were the most searched for on their site in 2015. My question is, “How many of these are being misapplied?”
The top ten Bible verses of 2015, according to Bible Gateway’s data, were:
- John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
- Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
- Philippians 4:13: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
- Romans 8:28: “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.”
- Psalm 23:4: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
- Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
- Romans 12:2: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
- Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
- 1 Corinthians 13:7: “[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
- Proverbs 3:6: “[I]n all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
John 3:16, Everyone who has watched a sporting event has seen John 3:16 in some way, shape, or form. Many people regard it as the shortest gospel presentation. I don’t. Just using this one verse leaves out some very important information. We need to know that we are helpless sinners with no power of our own to attain salvation. We need to know about Jesus being God incarnate, and His justifying work on the cross. We need to also know about repentance and faith. Knowing that Jesus is the Son of God does not save, even the demons know who He is. Regeneration, personal conviction of sin, inward call, outward response, repentance, and faith, are all from God to us, so that He can be glorified in the saving of sinners.
Jeremiah 29:11, seriously? With the context, this verse has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with the Israelites from Jerusalem, who were taken in the Babylonian exile. Are you an Israelite who was carried off into exile by King Nebuchadnezzar? Then, guess what? This verse does not apply to you! It is not a commission from God to go out and reclaim ‘Merica! It is not a promise from God to make you prosperous! It is not your personal life verse for the year! It is, however, a demonstration of how God used the prophet Jeremiah to send encouraging news to His people who were in exile. He demonstrated mercy in the midst of discipline. This is something we can know about God and cherish. He is merciful.
Philippians 4:13, is another verse that is constantly misapplied. It makes me wonder if anyone actually reads their Bible? If they were reading their Bibles the context would be so obvious that you wouldn’t think people would go around twisting scripture like this. It seems like every endeavor a Christian in America seeks to undertake, they use this verse to encourage them, even if it is banal and idiotic to do so. This verse speaks of the providence of God for His saints, in their work that they are doing for the Lord, that He has brought them to. It is not about all possible things they could do, but about all the actual things that He brings them to. They can trust Him to bring them through.
Romans 8:28 Often gets used to encourage us into thinking that God has a wonderful plan for our lives, and He does, just not the Joel Osteen version of it. Often times what is for our good is very hard and difficult, it is not what we would want for ourselves, but it is what God is using to sanctify us. If you are reading your Bibles in the proper context you would see the, “And” that starts off verse 28 and recognize it is referring back to the subject of hopeful suffering beginning in verse 18.
Psalm 23:34 I’ll admit I’ve rarely seen misapplied. The Psalms are often read for encouragement. We should keep in mind that they are praises to God put to music, the first hymnal if you will. David’s relationship with his Creator is a major part of the Psalms. We also see Christ in the Psalms.
Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” This verse is so straight forward it would be difficult to imagine anyone misapplying it or twisting it, but some do quote this verse when trying to prove that you can twist God’s arm into giving you what you want through prayer. Obviously, it is not. Any fair reading of it in context is understood as an explanation that with peace between us and God through Christ we should not be anxious but rest in that peace, knowing the goodness of our sovereign Lord.
Romans 12:2 has been getting more attention I assume due to the resurgence in Reformed theology, and I venture to guess that it is getting applied correctly, more often than not. I haven’t heard anyone misusing it as of late.
Proverbs 3:5 Would be pretty easy to understand, you’d think, but join it with some prosperity gospel preaching like seed planting for wealth, and voila! You have a verse quoted that supposedly supports the false gospel. It saddens me that Christians are being duped because they have not had their minds renewed… See what I did there?
1 Corinthians 13:7 who doesn’t love love? I mean, come on. How can you mess this up? Well, they do. They use it to promote the liberal idea of inclusivity. You know the whole, “You’re an intolerant bigot if you don’t affirm homosexuality, transgenderism, or any other perversion du jour because love wins.” What they don’t tell you is that they are affirming a worldview that isn’t Christian. Nope, a worldview that affirms sin is definitely against the Christian worldview. Isn’t it disgusting when people use God’s word to justify their own sin?
Last but not least, is Proverbs 3:6.I have to admit, I haven’t heard this one get abused that much. I didn’t compile a comprehensive list of scripture twisting. I just wrote down some that I’ve heard. If you have heard any other twists of these verses please leave a comment below. If you think that I’m way off base, well leave a comment below. As always, God bless you in accordance with His sovereign will.