4. Risk of Theological Error
One of the greatest dangers of misapplying Scripture is the risk of theological error. Let’s use Jeremiah 29:11 as an example. This well known verse often gets written in graduation cards:
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.
What a nice verse! Of course we want to apply it to our lives, our plans, our post-graduate endeavors. The problem? This verse was not written to us. In context, it was written to Israel right before they were taken into Babylonian captivity. They would spend 70 years as strangers in a foreign land, a consequence of their repeated disobedience. If you read the verses before Jer. 29:11, you will see just how dire the situation was. And if you read Jeremiah 29:12-14, you find something even more challenging:
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.”
God had a plan for Israel; that’s true. But God’s original, perfect plan – their obedience in the Promised Land – was prevented by their disobedience. If they had obeyed Him, they would have received this glorious blessing of peace. But because of their disobedience, God altered His plan to include captivity. Israel had to learn the consequences of rejecting God. This whole passage is about Israel removing themselves from God’s plan and God’s grace in spite of it.
Not something we want to write on a coffee mug.
When you take Jer. 29:11 out of its context, you come away with, “God has good plans for me.” But in context, we see that God’s good plans are fulfilled AS WE OBEY HIM. And it is possible to remove yourself from His original, perfect plan, and for Him to alter the course, if we choose to reject Him. This is a very serious passage, not one to be taken lightly. And when we take verses out of context like this we risk even greater theological error.
Photo courtesy: ©Unsplash