I recently did a series with my students on biblical interpretation. I finished with a lesson on the importance of application. In James 1:22, James warns against failing to obey the Word of God. He wrote, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22, ESV). Unfortunately, one of the neglected areas in personal Bible study is often application. There can be a tendency to read the Bible and understand what it is saying without actually taking the meaning and personally applying it. When we do this, we are “hearers only” and are “deceiving” ourselves. We rob Scripture of its power when we fail to apply its message to our lives, allowing it to change the way we think and act.
Many writers have provided questions to help students of the Bible apply passages to their own life. In his book Rediscovering Expository Preaching, John MacArthur provided a list of questions intended to help those who read God’s Word apply it to their own lives. I thought I would share those questions here to help those of you who read your Bible take the step from meaning to application.
1. Are there examples to follow?
2. Are there commands to obey?
3.Are there errors to avoid?
4. Are there sins to forsake?
5. Are there promises to claim?
6. Are there new thoughts about God?
7. Are there principles to live by?
Other writers have produced similar lists. The bottom line is this: don’t just be a hearer of God’s Word. When you read Scripture, make sure you understand what it is saying (the meaning), but also make sure you obey it (application).