How much richer would our lives be if we left each Bible reading with a new perspective and a small change for the better? A small change every day adds up to a changed life – and that is the very purpose of Scripture.
Applying God’s Word is a vital part of our relationship with Him. God urges us to apply His Word (Isa. 42:23; 1 Cor. 10:11; 2 Thess. 3:4; Jas. 1:22), but too often we stop at accumulating Bible knowledge instead of putting into practice what we have learned. Exposure to God’s Word must lead to obedience otherwise it’s just another history lesson. When we don’t apply the Bible to our personal situations, spiritual dryness, shallowness, and indifference will result.
The best way to define application is to determine what it is not. Application is not just accumulating knowledge. History is filled with philosophers who knew what the Bible said, but failed to apply it to their lives, keeping them from believing and changing. Application is not just illustration. Illustration only tells us how someone else handled a similar situation. While we may empathize with that person, we still have to apply the Bible to our own individual situations, which is likely different than his or hers.
What, then, is application? Application is deeply personal – unique for each individual. A good application shows us how to take the timeless truth of Scripture and apply it to our lives today. It shows us what to do about the passage we are reading and motivates us to respond to what God is teaching through His Word. Application is putting into practice what we already know (Mk. 4:24; Heb. 5:14) by confronting us with the right questions and motivating us to take action (1 Jn. 2:5-6; Jas. 2:17). It involves taking a relevant Bible truth and making it a personal truth. It involves developing a strategy and action plan to live in harmony with God’s Word. Application is the biblical “how to” of life.