3. Don’t put God in a box.
In other words, don’t assume that God must work in this way or that way only. I am glad that He is more creative than I am. Too often we approach the Scriptures (and our Christian lives) with simple, pat answers to hard questions. Studying Scriptures with this approach can lead to legalism. We assume this is what is meant, and this is all that is meant. We deduce from it a simple maxim for our lives. Be sure, God’s Word doesn’t change. It doesn’t mean something today that it did not mean in years gone by. But, His Word is living and active and sharper than a 2-edged sword.
Here’s an example. Ephesians 5:18 says, “don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled with the Spirit.” A simple approach to this would be to read this verse and walk away from it thinking, “ok, don’t get drunk”, and then move on to the next verse. That kind of thinking only produces legalism. You would then live the rest of your life in complete sobriety while missing the point of this verse. True, drunkenness is a sin, the Bible is clear on that. But here Paul is telling us to be filled, or controlled, by the Holy Spirit. In the same way wine controls the drunk, the Holy Spirit is to control the believer. To really live out this verse, we must spend the rest of our lives under His control and influence.
When we look at Scripture and ask God to give us a list of do’s and don’t’s,we fall into legalism and mis what He may have for us each day. An amazing thing about studying Scripture is that God speaks to our hearts in different ways at different times in our lives. Don’t assume you know what each verse teaches and you can cross it off your spiritual to-do list. Dig into His Word and ask Him to speak to your heart fresh and new today!