Using Scripture for Personal Advantage

by Gene Taylor

On my recent trip to Israel, the first archaeological dig we encountered was in the city of Caesarea Maritima. It was of some government offices from the Byzantine period. As I hurriedly got out my camera and began taking pictures of the remains of this ancient structure, I also took a picture of the sign the archaeologists had erected to inform visitors about the dig. It read, "TAX ARCHIVE. An inscription found in one of the building's mosaic floors (now on display in the Sdot Yam Museum) identifies this edifice as Byzantine government offices where clerks recorded tax revenues. The inscriptions are quotations from the New Testament which praise obedience to the authorities."

It seems using Scripture for personal gain is a practice that is ancient. While it was not wrong for such a use as these tax collectors made -- even Jesus reminded people to "render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's" (Matthew 22:21), there are many occasions when people, even those who claim to be children of God, use Scripture in a sinful way for their personal advantage.

The apostle Peter cited such a practice when, in reference to the writings of Paul, he wrote, "which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction" (2 Peter 3:16). Though seeking to use the Scriptures to their own advantage, they ended up bringing about their own destruction for treating the word of God that way.

Some today "twist" the meaning of Matthew 7:1 for their own advantage. In an effort to have no one criticize their lifestyle or religious practices, they apply the teaching of "Judge not, that you be not judged" in a way the Savior never intended for it to be applied.

Some who claim to be members of the body of Christ will apply 1 Corinthians 6:1-8, where Paul forbids brother going to law against brother, for personal advantage. Knowing that many believe they should never take a brother to law for any reason, some use this passage as a protective shroud to take advantage of their brethren financially knowing no lawsuits will result.

Be careful how you use Scripture. While everyone has the right to the full blessings it supplies, it should never be misused in order to gain some personal advantage over another person.