Almost all of the struggles in churches and even denominations today revolve around this question: Which commands in scripture are we to follow and which are we not to follow? As a “people of the book”, this may seem a strange question. Of course, we are to follow all of the bible’s commands. They come from God and He never changes, so His Word must never change as well. But while God never changes, and His word never changes either, we do. And the world does.
Because of this, some commands are typically agreed to be culturally or time bound. Few think, for instance, that wearing fabric made of two different materials is sinful, or trimming your beard. In fact, while some claim to be “biblical literalists who follow the whole of scripture”, every one of us draws a line through the scriptures, dividing the timeless truths from the ones we no longer need to follow. Are arguments come when we disagree where that line falls.
And where that line falls is not clear, or we probably wouldn’t be arguing about it. We can’t divide by chapter* nor by book. So how do we decide? Are we going against God’s will when we reap all of our fields instead of leaving the edges for the poor (19:9)? Or when we pay our workers monthly instead of daily (19:13)? Or when we steal or lie (19:11)? How many and which of yesterday’s laws about sexual relations are applicable today?
Decisions like this require wisdom, and wisdom comes from God. So before we begin deciding which verses we’ll hold ourselves to, we need to know the whole of scripture (so read your bible all the way through at some point) and we need to approach it with prayer for wisdom. Then we let God inform us, guide us, and teach us.
*remember that all chapter and verse markings came hundreds of years after the bible was written, created as a helpful study guide by humans, and therefore not divinely given.