“Tunnel vision” often causes one to perceive only what one wishes to perceive from their Bible Study. Let’s look at one of the more blatant examples. In Acts 28:3-6, we read of the snake bite received by Paul and the miraculous powers given to protect him on his world changing evangelistic missions. There are people who now wish to prove their spirituality by tempting snakes as a regular church experience and expect to be immune as Paul was! The founder of this movement died recently of a poisonous snake bite.
Another much more popular example is that of the Rapture. Some read verses like I Thessalonians 4:16-17 and believe that all the real believers will be taken to heaven temporarily to avoid the great tribulation period entirely. They say cars will suddenly be driverless! “Tunnel vision” is the opposite of considering the context. The context of I Thessalonians 4:13-17 is the second coming of Christ and the resurrection of the dead, or sleeping, saints! The Resurrection is the theme of the New Testament and does not fit with the world’s false doctrines of Heaven and Hell. The world perceives what they want to perceive.
In Matt 5:30 Jesus uses hyperbole to drive home a point. A man years ago read this verse and because he had used his hand to sin, he cut it off. When he arrived at the hospital he would not allow them to reattach his hand. Twenty years later he sued the same hospital for not realizing that he was mentally unstable at the time and they should have forced him to get the surgery! Obviously Jesus was saying disobedience of the law can lead to the Lake of Fire, which will eternally consume you. We should do everything in our power to resist the temptations of sin. However we do not sin with our hands only, but with our minds and hearts. See Mark 7:20-22.
Proverbs 22:6 says that if we raise a child correctly they will not depart from it. This proverb, or general guideline, is clearly true. Really disturbed parents can ruin a child for life while good parents are a blessing to their children. But the child still is a free moral agent and may choose the “dark side.” Many a teenager from a reasonable home has chosen drugs, alcoholism, gang violence, prostitution and worse, all to their parents dismay. Adam and Eve’s only parent was God and even they were led astray. Do not feel overly guilty if your children have problems in this evil society. Show them the way early so that they may later in life get a moral grip. Use common sense in evaluating each and every verse.
Be wary of biases from our past religious teaching. Many of those biases are based on the idea that the old, harsh God of the Old Testament has been replaced by a reformer – Jesus – who changed much of it. God put curses on those that would alter or do away with any part of His written word. See Revelation 22:18-19, Numbers 23:19, Deuteronomy 4:2 and Hebrews 13:8. God does NOT need to change! People need to repent and change. Christ said in Matthew 5:17-18 that he did not come to do away with the law but to show its deep spiritual fulfilment.
God gave the Apostles the power to make legal decisions regarding situations that required a ruling, the power to bind and loose. This was done with Godly insight which would never contradict God’s wishes or laws. “What about circumcision?” some have asserted. Note Leviticus 19:33; It was decided that since the Bible says, “Circumcise your heart,” that spiritual circumcision – or repentance – is all that is needed for Gentiles. Circumcision was a national sign for Israel. It would have been an enormous barrier for Gentile conversion. See Acts 10:28, 34, and 44. God did not want Christianity to be limited to Jews and a few proselytes, but to go to the entire world.
One must study God’s word with this in mind. We should ask ourselves, “Why did God say this?” and “How can we can gain deeper insight?” It is a false and worldly assumption that the Old Testament is done away and enables people to get around the Fourth Commandment and stay in step with the world. Some have tried to misuse Ezekiel 20:24-25 to support such a misguided premise. If you see the clearer translation of this verse that is available in the NIV, it is obvious that God is angry with them for desecrating his Sabbaths and forsaking the laws given to them in favor of their own legal devices. God, through the prophet, is obviously not saying, “I gave you bad laws so you would suffer.” God let them suffer from their own bad laws and behavior and turned away from them. Are our court decisions hurting this nation today?
Even though we no longer live in a Theocracy governed by God, the principles behind His laws are still valid. In I Corinthians 9:9-11 the Apostle Paul is applying a minor law from Deuteronomy 25:4 to a Gentile New Testament church far away from Judea in Europe. He used this law as proof that he could have asked for a salary from the Corinthians but deferred because he did not want it to be a barrier to growth in numbers. He thought that some would be suspicious of this Jewish cleric wanting their money! He did it out of love, yet they did not appreciate his sacrifice. Note that the Old Testament is quoted liberally throughout the New Testament for doctrinal support and guidance! See Acts 24:14 to see what the main author of the New Testament believed!