|Read 1Th 5:21-22
Our text gives us three commands which are “prove,” “hold fast,” and “abstain.” The last two depend on the first. The word translated “prove” means to test or examine carefully to decide if something is worthy. It describes a screening process. Bible principles are the guidelines which we test the activities and opportunities of life. They are the standards for right. For example, Ps 119:9,101,105,133,169.
All that passes the Bible principle test, we are to hold fast. But we must abstain from all that fails the test or is questionable or even just appears to be evil.
As you can see, Bible principles are very important. This morning I want to answer three questions about Bible principles that will help us identify them and see their importance.
1. What Are Bible Principles?
a. Definitions vary slightly
1) The Random House Webster College Dictionary defines a principle as: 1) An accepted or professed rule of action or conduct. 2) A personal or specific basis of conduct or management.
2) When speaking of a Bible principle I believe a good definition would be “A Bible truth that should guide the way we live.”
b. Principles differ from commands but are no less true.
1) Specific commands are clear expectations. For example, “Thou shalt not steal.” Ex 20:15 Commands like this one are very clear expectations.
2) General commands are commands that are not as precise. They look more like principles. For example,“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1Jo 2:15 This command is more general and not as specific as a clear command.
3) Bible principles on the other hand may not be commands but they reveal God’s mind in the form of Bible truths.
2. How Can we Identify Bible Principles?
a. Look for the mind of God as you read the Bible.
1) God shares his mind in the pages of his Word. We see his holy character. We see his desires. We learn what pleases and displeases him. We see hisjudgment on the wicked and his blessing on those who do right. From these we learn Bible principles.
2) Much of the Bible was not written directly to us, but it is full of principles that directly apply to our lives. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” Ro 15:4
3) It is your Christian duty to find Bible principles which can guide your choice of actions and activities. Don’t overlook or ignore Bible principles you don’t like. We must resist the temptation to push aside principles that are unpopular or uncomfortable.
b. Ask questions as you read the Bible.
1) Here are a few questions that will help us identify Bible principles as we read the Bible.
2) Let’s look for Bible principles in Ge 6:5-8. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, andthat every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” Ge 6:5-8
a) Facts: God sees wickedness, knows man’s thoughts, is grieved by sin, will punish sin, is pleased with the righteous.
b) Actions: Wickedness and evil thoughts displease God. Doing the opposite pleases God.
c) Qualities: Uprightness
d) Attitude: Shun evil actions and evil thoughts.
e) Conclusion: my sin grieves God. God will judge my sin. I must be different and stand for right.
f) Danger: Flee wicked associations and evil thoughts
g) Formulate Bible principles on these discoveries.
3) Let’s look for Bible principles in Ps 101:3. “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes…” Ps 101:3 This is a prayer of David. What Bible principles does it contain?
a) Note guidelines, actions, conclusions, dangers.
b) Principles herein apply to all that we view. Are you catching on?
3. How Should we Respond to Bible Principles?
a. We should obey principles just like clear commands.
1) “Thou shalt not smoke cigarettes” is not a command found in the Bible. But the Bible does say to Christians, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, andthat the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” 1Co 3:16-17 Principles against smoking are just as authoritative as a direct command.
2) God expects us to make proper application to Bible principles. The principle found in Jas 4:17 applies here too. “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” Jas 4:17
3) Bible principles should guide our dress, hairstyles, music, drink, tithing, entertainment, spending, viewing, Bible versions, friends, lifestyle, and everything in life.
b. Objecting to Bible principles is resisting God.
1) Common objections to Bible principles include:
2) God always wants us to do right. That must be our goal. It is true that good Christians differ sometimes on applying Bible principles, but we must remember that right is never relative. Someone is wrong. If in doubt, pray much and error on the conservative side. Each Christian will answer to God for his identification and application of Bible principles.
Conclusion: Bible principles are “Bible truths that should guide the way we live.” God commands each of us to, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” 1Th 5:21-22 Bible principles are the guidelines by which we choose all things. Ignorance is no excuse. Let’s begin looking for principles as we read the Bible and then apply them to our daily lives. Let the Bible be your guide not feelings or society.
If God has brought to your mind a Bible principle that you have been disobeying, you need to ask his forgiveness and begin obeying today.