Rightly Dividing Or Wrongly Distorting

In II Timothy, Paul was writing to TImothy who was a young preacher. He is finishing up his second letter to Timothy with a chapter of exhortation, a chapter encouraging Timothy to continue in the faith, to continue serving God.

Paul starts the chapter with telling Timothy to be strong and to endure hardness as a good soldier. He is encouraging Timothy that times will come when it will be hard, but keep on going.

At the end of the chapter, we see Paul telling Timothy to be mature in his walk and in his service. Timothy is told to flee youthful lusts, avoid foolish questions and be willing to be taught.

In the middle though is a verse that is good for every preacher, it is good for every Christian. It is a verse that acquires work to be successful in what it says. It is a verse that also shows that if you don’t follow it, you will be ashamed.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

II Timothy 2:15

Study – state of contemplation, an application of the mental facilities to the acquisition of knowledge.

Approved – to have or express favorable opinion.

Ashamed – feeling shame, guilt, or disgrace; feeling inferior or unworthy.

We see Paul refer to Timothy as workman. We then see the workman’s tool at the end of the verse, the Word of Truth, the Word of God.

We see the exhortation of study! Contemplate, apply you mind to acquire knowledge from the Word of God.

We see the goal of studying, approved unto God. Paul didn’t tell Timothy to study to be approved by man but by God. When we focus on what man thinks, we won’t study and learn the Word like we should.

We see the warning of the lack of studying, ashamed. Why would he be ashamed? Because he would be lacking in knowledge of what God wanted him to learn and to share with others.

What does the phrase ‘rightly dividing’ mean? I looked up the definition of divide and it means to separate into two or more parts, areas, or groups. So why would Paul say to separate the Bible? When studying, you can find exact meanings of words and phrases when you break them down to the most basic level. You can gain a better understanding of words and phrases when you know what every part means and how it applies to the Christian life.

One of the biggest things that a preacher or anyone who use the Bible in anyway is making sure not to take a verse out of context, especially when trying to make the Bible fit their opinion, instead of making their opinion fit the Bible. It is easy to make the Bible fit what you have to say instead of making what you say fit the Bible.

Everything in the Bible is in there on purpose. Nothing is missing, nothing needs to be added. Every word has a purpose. That is why we as Christians should study and study, to make sure our life matches up with the Word of God.

The lack of study mentioned in II Peter 3:16-17 “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.”

There is so much in these two verses! Peter was writing to the beloved, to those who were saved, to the Christians. In these verses, he mentions that there are some things that are hard to understand in the Bible, yet there are those that wrest those hard things and also the other scriptures. Wrest means distort the meaning or interpretation of (something) to suit one’s own interests or views. People wrest or distort the Scriptures, whether the easy things or the hard things, to fit their own views.

As I was reading these verses, I could see why and how someone could distort the hard things of the Scriptures, especially those who didn’t study the Word and those that were unstable in the Christian life already. But then he mentions they wrest the other scriptures also, the easy things to understand. When they do this, they do it to their own destruction. You can only distort the Bible so much into your way and view before it catches up to you.

The next thing in these verses is Peter telling the Christians to be careful of these people that distort the Scriptures. These people will try to make you agree with them and see their way and views of the Bible. The Bible calls these people wicked as they lead people away from the truth of God. He ends the verse with the warning that you can fall from your steadfastness of holding the Scriptures. Many great Christians, with strong standards and beliefs have fallen because of the distorted view of someone they let influence them.

In churches today, we have many people taking the Bible and fitting it to their lifestyles instead of fitting their lifestyle to the Bible. Our opinions, our thoughts, our preferences should match the Word of God. If the Bible says it is wrong, it is wrong. If the Bible says it is right, it is right. There is no gray area with God.

You have to choose that whenever you use the Bible in anyway, whether through preaching, talking to someone else, writing a blog like this, or using it anywhere; you have to decide whether you want to rightly divide or wrongly distort what it says. The difference between the two is one is what God says and the other is what man thinks.

If I ever say or post anything that uses Scripture, I do my dead level best to make sure I rightly divide the Word of Truth and keep my opinion out of it. I do not want to wrongly distort, use the Scripture wrong and led someone to destruction.

I try to make it a habit that whenever I use Scripture in any posts and even in conversation with friends, to quote what it says verbatim from the Bible so that I do not put my own words in.

I can get into the subject of how every single word in the Bible is there for a purpose and just by using a different word can change the whole meaning of the verse or the chapter. Taking out a word or adding a word can distort the meaning of what God actually wanted us to know. Be careful that when using any Scripture, you are quoting and using it the way God intended it to be used, when you don’t you are wrongly distorting and could cause others to fall.

My standards, my beliefs, my convictions are all based off my own personal study of the Word of God. I decided long ago what I believe and I am still growing and learning and studying as I want my life to be pleasing unto God. When it comes to certain areas of life, I have no opinion on the matter, I have the Word of God.

Decide today that you will study the Word and rightly divide the truth to live a life approved unto God.


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