Misapplied Promises

God will disappoint us if we presume the unique commitments he made in the Bible to certain people under specific circumstances always apply to us in situations of our choosing.

Specific Promises

For example, in Deuteronomy 28:1–14 God promises to prosper and protect the nation of Israel in response to its corporate obedience.

This promise did not oblige him to give every righteous Israelite an easy life. Likewise, it does not obligate him to similarly reward our individual obedience.

The apostle Paul proves the point. He was a godly man and an effective evangelist, but God did not repay his faithfulness by shielding him from all unpleasantness.

Paul endured beatings, shipwrecks, jail, hunger, thirst, cold, and other miseries. Tradition says he was beheaded for proclaiming the Gospel.

General Promises

Misinterpreting the general promises that God makes to all reborn believers can also create false expectations.

For example, Psalm 37:4 says “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” This promise does not mean that God will reward our devotion by giving us whatever we want.

The promise means that as we walk in harmony with God, he will instill in us the desire for the good things that truly satisfy us at a soulful level. He will help us discover our passion and purpose in life.

Determining Applicability

The personal applicability of a specific Bible promise depends on its context, the conditions for its fulfillment, and its thematic consistency throughout Scripture.

God’s promise to come to our aid amid affliction was originally given to the Israelites centuries ago, but its six implicit truths are reiterated throughout the Bible.

We, therefore, know the promise still applies to us today.