10/19/21 – The Bible Is NOT An Instruction Manual For Life (Article)

Every portion of Scripture is expressly written for the purpose of revealing what Jesus provided us at the cross.

John 5:39 (NKJV) …the Scriptures… these are they which testify of Me

1 Peter 1:10-11 (NKJV) …the prophets… prophesied of the grace that would come TO YOU… testified beforehand [in scripture] the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.

Even though most Christians would agree that scripture testifies of what Jesus did at the cross, that statement really becomes useless because of everything else that we add to it. 

For instance, the same people that say that scripture testifies of Jesus will also say that the Bible is an instruction manual for your life. And no one seems to have a problem with that. But is the Bible an instruction manual to show us how to live? Or does it expressly testify of what Jesus did FOR US at the cross? Can’t be both. Or shouldn’t be. 

Scripture was not written to show us what we need to do, but what Jesus did that we couldn’t do! The whole point of scripture, and the point of the gospel, is to show us what Jesus did on our behalf, because we could do nothing apart from him (John 15:5).

Romans 8:3 (NKJV) For what the law [our works] could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did…

The Bible is not an instruction manual for our life. It is an instruction manual on all the things that Jesus provided for us – all the things that we could not do for ourselves. 

And yet, it is absolutely true that the Bible has a lot to say about morality and godly living. But how does that reveal what Jesus did at the cross? It’s very simple. Let me explain. 

New Testament Morality

In short, under the law, people were instructed on how to live morally and expected to live by it. That didn’t work. People couldn’t do anything right. That’s why God scrapped that covenant and started a new one. 

Hebrews 8:7-8 (NKJV) For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second… finding fault with them [the people]…

But now, in the New Testament, morality is no longer a standard or a requirement (otherwise, what’s the difference from the first covenant?). In this New Testament, under Jesus, morality and godliness is a gift. Morality is something Jesus has provided to us, to work through us, not a standard for us to live up to. 

2 Peter 1:3 (NKJV) …His divine power has GIVEN TO US all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him…

So in short, whenever the Bible speaks about morality (and it does indeed speak about morality), it is not acting as an instruction manual on how you should be living. Quite the contrary, it is simply revealing the gifts that we have received through Jesus, not a standard or instruction we have to live up to (more on that in a second).

In the New Testament, morality is a real thing. And it should be taught correctly at church. But it should be taught as something Jesus provided TO US, not something we offer to Him of ourselves. He put it inside of us when we first believed. And these moral, godly qualities are worked out into our life by the Holy Spirit, as we renew our minds. That’s the way it works in the New Testament (Gal. 2:20, Rom 1:9, Rom 7:6).

When the Bible speaks about morality, it’s not an instruction for you to live up to. It’s a gift from Jesus for you to believe and manifest. 

Jesus Gave It, Then It Gets Put On

Notice here that Paul says that we’ve already been created in righteousness and holiness. Then he simply advices that we “put it on” by renewing our minds.

Ephesians 4:23-24 (NKJV) and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, [24] and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Righteousness and holiness is a gift through Jesus (Rom. 5:17). And as we renew our minds to Jesus, that righteousness and holiness simply gets “put upon us.” That means it’s manifested. So, in the new covenant, righteous and holy living is nothing more than the gifts that Jesus provided us, manifesting upon us. It’s not us reading instructions and then trying to perform them. If it were, then how is this any different than the Old Testament law? 

The Bible doesn’t talk about righteous and holy living simply to instruct us to perform it. The Bible is meant to shows us how Jesus GAVE us righteousness and holiness in order that it might be “put upon” us as we learn about it! That’s a far cry from an instruction manual for life. The Bible is an instruction manual on what Jesus GAVE! It all testifies of Him, not you!

Here Paul affirms the same thing:

Romans 12:2 (NKJV) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove [give evidence of] what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Good, acceptable, and perfect is already in you through Jesus. It is a gift, not a requirement. This says that when you renew your mind to what Jesus gave, it is proven (or gives evidence) through you. That’s how it works in the New Testament. Everything good, that Jesus put in you through the cross, becomes effectual through you, as you acknowledge it!

Philemon 1:6 (KJV) That the communication of thy faith [speaking about love] may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.

Closing

So, there is no debate here, the Bible clearly has a lot to say about godly morality. But in the New Testament, godliness is something Jesus provided to us, not something we provide to Him. And as we renew our minds, it gets put upon us effortlessly. No work required, just mind renewal.

So whenever the Bible speaks about godliness, morality, or how the church should operate, God’s not instructing you on what you need to accomplish for Him. He is describing to you the good things that Jesus GAVE YOU and how it can manifest in your life by mind renewal. Righteous and godly living is nothing more than a manifestation of the good things Jesus provided us at the cross. 

Therefore, the Bible is NOT an instruction manual for your life. That wouldn’t work anyway, seeing as people didn’t do so well with the Old Testament law. The Bible is solely and strictly a testimony of the grace that has come TO YOU, through what Jesus did at the cross. It has no other purpose. But we knew that already… or so we say.

1 Peter 1:10-11 (NKJV) …the prophets… prophesied of the grace that would come TO YOU… testified beforehand [in scripture] the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.

If you’re reading the Bible correctly you should always be reading about what Jesus accomplished for you in His flesh (1 John 4:1). Even if you’re reading about godly living, it is meant to testify about what Jesus did for you. It turns out godliness isn’t a requirement, but a gift inside of us through the work of Jesus. 

So you see? Everything in the Bible is about what Jesus did, even godliness. Any part of scripture that doesn’t seem to be explaining the cross is just a part of scripture that you don’t understand yet.