Today we continue taking a deeper look at the application process of Bible study. We are going to look at the topic of principles, what they are, and what their purpose is.
What are Principles?
A principle is a fundamental truth. It’s a law that should be followed or a doctrine that impacts what we believe. Principles found in Scripture are placed there by God. They are His commands that we are to live by.
Purpose of God’s Principles or Commands:
The commands of God are not arbitrary, they have a very specific purpose. God also did not give us principles to live by in order to take away our fun. It’s actually the opposite, all of God’s rules are for our good and His glory. While they are not always easy to follow, they will bring contentment, peace, and joy.
Let’s look at a few uses of God’s law and some questions to ask along the way.
The commands of God warn us of danger. When we encounter a principle in Scripture, we should ask “what is this command warning me of? How will obeying this command keep me safe?”
Let’s use James 1:19-20 as an example.
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. For human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.
There are a number of principles found in these verses. For now, let’s use the command to be “slow to anger.” What danger comes with uncontrolled anger? I’m sure we could come up with a long list of the danger of anger.
Also ask, “How will obeying/disobeying this command impact my relationship with God?”
In this particular passage we are told that “human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.”
The commands of God show us our sin. We all fall short of God’s perfect law (Romans 3:23) and God’s laws show us how we fall short.
Let’s continue using James 1:19. How does this command (to be slow to anger) point out my sin?
This is an uncomfortable question to ask ourselves but one that is very important. Only when we see our shortcomings will we be willing to admit that we need to change and that we need help because we can’t do it on our own.
The commands of God point us to Jesus. This is the beautiful part of God’s commands: they always point us to Jesus. Jesus kept every command perfectly for us.
As we continue with James 1:19, we need to ask, how did Jesus keep this command? How did Jesus handle anger? How does Jesus’ life, death and resurrection impact our sin?
- Through Jesus’ life we not only have an example to follow, but we have been given His righteousness.
- Through Jesus’ death we have the forgiveness of every single sin. We do not need to be oppressed by guilt. Jesus took on that guilt Himself. We are free from condemnation forever.
- Through Jesus’ resurrection we have been given the power to overcome sin. This is why we can start over every day, why we can resist sin and grow in godliness. This is why, when we fail, we can get up and do better.
The commands of God guide us in living. God’s commands show us that there is a better way to live. God teaches us through His principles what we should be doing in order to glorify Him and in order live a fruitful and faithful life. We need to ask, “how should I be living?”
Using James 1:19, we can ask, “How can I practice controlling my anger?” and, “How would being slow to speak and quick to listen impact anger?”
While we don’t always like rules and sometimes struggle to see the good in them, understanding the point of God’s laws can be really helpful. He is a good God and His commands are good and good for us.
Looking to Jesus,