Many parts of the Bible, those heavily dependent upon context and those that are not, constitute principles that can apply to a wide range of situations and circumstances. As such, many scriptures are capable of standing alone, separate from the original context. Many things in our society are not addressed directly in the scriptures. There are many more that are more difficult to align with a present reality. However, everything that is in the scriptures may be applied in some way IN PRINCIPLE. Thus, the Bible is applicable to all times, in all seasons, for all peoples. Everything in human experience is addressed in some way, somewhere, by the Bible - that is the miracle that is the Bible!

Therefore, we must, if we are to apply it to our lives, petition the Holy Spirit to guide us in discerning the principle. A principle may be revealed within any section of scripture, long or short. An applicable principle may be found in just one word, if we have the true understanding of that word. All scripture can be applied in principle in some way. It all hinges upon the leadership of, and the dependence upon, and submission to, the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, the Bible is just a history book. Then any seeming application is only coincidental, not useful as a guide for living, and without eternal spiritual value. It would then be only of historical value, or of psychological value at most. This is the reason some say that "anything can be proved by the Bible", when they are cornered by a self evident truth from the Bible. When cornered, they run to the round house. They will never be cornered there...

A principle may be very narrow, or it may be exceedingly broad in scope ("your word is exceeding broad"). Even the word "principle" is extremely broad even on the basis of its definition, but it may be narrowed unto a basic consensus for determining a principle. One dictionary definition is:

"Principle, canon, rule imply something established as a standard or test, for measuring, regulating, or guiding conduct or practice. A principle is a general and fundamental truth that may be used in deciding conduct or choice: to adhere to principle. Canon, originally referring to an edict of the Church (a meaning that it still retains), is used of any principle, law, or critical standard that is officially approved, particularly in aesthetics and scholarship: canons of literary criticism. A rule, usually something adopted or enacted, is often the specific application of a principle: the golden rule."

Even what we call the "golden rule" is classified as a principle, which may be applied universally to all of life and experience. A very broad principle indeed (Psalm 119:96).

The Bible is filled with principles. The Ten Commandments are actually principles for application to life and living. The difficulties arise when there are those who knowingly or unknowingly bend the principle to fit a preconceived or a desired agenda. This is "proof texting" of the malicious type, by which the term has acquired an odorous reputation. This can end in a morass of wrangling over "words" which do not edify, but only confuse (2 Timothy 2:14). There is a knowledge which leads to being "puffed up" with intellectual arrogance and pride, and does not contribute to Godly understanding (1 Corinthians 8:1- here is a classic proof text...).

Discerning the principle at all times when reading the Word of God is critical. We must all be “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). This command is not just for the ministry, but in principle applies to all the children of God, so that we may show ourselves approved of God, not ever needing to be ashamed. Many sermons have begun with “my text for today is...”. This is generally a short statement, or a few words, or a subject which defines the broad outline of what is going to be discussed. The “text” is simply a selected principle. It may even consist of a verse or word from the Bible.

Our greatest need, along with a deeper repentance and surrender to God, is the ability to rightly discern the “things that differ” (Hebrews 5:14). We are living in a world of increasing deception on all fronts. Getting discernment of the principle involved in any issue is critical today. There is increasingly a mixing of truth and error, a diluting or corrupting of the purity of a truth or principle. Distortions can be so clever and appealing as to deceive the most wary Christian (Matthew 24:24). If we do not learn to discern the principle behind what we hear, what we observe, and what we experience - the real agenda - we have been effectively set up for deception. We will not understand the tactics of our enemy.

We must not only discern right principles, but also discern wrong principles employed by the Deceiver. There is an overall principle of evil behind all that he does (John 8:44). Black is presented as white, and white as black. The blending can be the most deceptive. Our lack of understanding of right principles can be an open invitation for insertion of his version of the right principle in any situation (2 Corinthians 11:14). He used false “proof texts” (scriptures misapplied) in his temptation of Jesus. Jesus also used principle texts in His rebuttal to Satan. They both quoted scripture. The scriptures in both cases were true - in principle. The difference was in the discernment by Jesus of the greater truth, and His understanding of the ploy behind the quotes by Satan. Satan wrongly applied right principles. Jesus rightly applied right principles - so must we.

Pray that we may also discern as Jesus did - the right principles, wrong principles, and also right principles that are deceptively applied. Every day that passes makes the discernment of principle more and more critical, in an unprincipled and deceptive world...

"The wise in heart are called prudent, understanding, and knowing, and winsome speech increases learning [in both speaker and listener]. Understanding is a wellspring of life to those who have it, but to give instruction to fools is folly. The mind of the wise instructs his mouth, and adds learning and persuasiveness to his lips. Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the mind and healing to the body. [But], there is a way that seems right to a man and appears straight before him, but at the end of it is the way of death." - Proverbs 16:21-25 (AB)