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The Bible Used as a Weapon Against You: You Can Overcome!

Reviewed by Karis A. Williams, MSMHC, LPC,   December 18 , 2023

We as Christians think that we have all the answers.  We think we are the wisest, sometimes even among other Christians.  And unfortunately, Christians can think they understand the Bible better than anyone else.  But what happens when our pride for our spiritual condition causes us to use our knowledge of the Bible and God’s will as a weapon against those we are supposed to be loving with a godly compassion?

When we use the Bible as a weapon to show someone else how wrong they are and elevate ourselves, we are spiritually abusing that person.  And the worst part of that is that often the person “hitting someone over the head” with their Bible knowledge often thinks they are acting in love to bring the other person to repentance. If someone is using the Bible to control you, you can overcome by realizing that it is not God or the Bible that is trying to bring you down, but a Christian who does not understand the love of God.  

Let’s take a look at what using the Bible as a weapon looks like, how to recognize it, and how to heal from it.

Christians Don’t Always Look Out for Each Other

I was in Bible College in the late 80’s (I know, I’m getting old!) and in a lecture that was being delivered by a guest professor by the name of Ken Ham.  Yep, that one.  But before some of you roast me for quoting someone that is controversial to say the least, I just want to say he was an excellent professor and it was one of our school’s favorite weeks because he was a kind and compassionate man who loved the Lord and it showed in all of his lectures.  

So, now that I have gotten totally off the path, let me get back to my point.  Mr. Ham said something that week that has always really stuck with me.  This is especially true because I am reminded of the truth of it on a regular basis.  He even had a graphic that he put on the projector to bring home his point.  The graphic depicted two Christian groups and the infighting that churches can be so infamous for.  My point:  sometimes the church is so busy attacking its own members that it doesn’t see how much they lack love that they should be showing to other churches as well as the world.  

When Christians start fighting about differing views on doctrine, Biblical issues, or even secular and cultural issues, how can the world see the love that they are supposed to be known for?  How can outsiders feel welcome when often the insiders aren’t welcome?

I saw Christians eating each other alive just last night at a community group meeting I was at.  And in the end, people’s feelings were hurt, and the ones that hurt their feelings were oblivious to the damage they had done.  There was such a lack of love and nobody even seemed to realize it.  At least they didn’t verbalize it.  Until we can get past these issues in a better way, the church will suffer under the weight of a lack of the love of Christ.  How can we all change this?

When the Bible is Used as a Weapon

Not only do churches have a hard time extending grace, warmth, and the love of Christ to each other, they tend to weaponize their attack.  And the worst part is that the Bible is one of the top items they use as their weapon.  

When does this happen?  All the time and in nearly every relationship.  Families use Scripture against each other.  Teachers and other church leaders do it.  Pastors, elders, and deacons do it.  And like I said earlier, I feel that most of the time they think they are doing the right thing.  

So, how do we know when we are doing the right thing and when we are beating someone over the head with our knowledge of the Bible?  Much of the answer is based on where our heart is.  If we are trying to prove ourselves right, smarter, or better than others,  you are not sharing the Word in love.  You are weaponizing it.

When your friendly conversation about Bible doctrine goes south, you may very well be weaponizing your Bible.  There is even a verse for it.  2 Timothy 2:23-26 says, 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”

The problem is that we don’t realize how irrelevant our best arguments are when we don’t communicate the love of God with our message.

Using the Bible as A Weapon is a Form of Spiritual Abuse

Spiritual abuse is when someone in authority (pastor, elder, deacon, or other leader–or even husband or father) uses the Bible to try to manipulate you into doing what they want you to do.  This can happen from the pulpit, in home visits, in casual conversation, in family meetings, in private conversations–literally everywhere. 

What distinguishes using the Bible as a weapon from productive biblical conversation is the way people are made to feel.  If your conversation makes you feel badly because you are convicted by the Holy Spirit and you feel led to change the behavior that is making you feel bad, that is NOT spiritual abuse.  But if the words are said to make you feel not good enough, like you can’t ever measure up, like you are a failure, and that you should just give up, that IS spiritual abuse.  

Just to clarify, there are times that we all feel like we are not good enough for God.  There are times that we won’t measure up.  There are times we will fail God.  The difference here is when we are being made to feel that way and Scripture being thrown at us for the sake of control or making us behave a certain way.  

Here is an example.  Someone walks up to you and says, “Hey, _____, I really don’t like the way you _______  and I think you need to stop doing it because God says you need to according to this verse in the Bible.”

There is no coming alongside of the other believer to help them.  No encouragement is happening.  There is no camaraderie involved.  Just judgment and manipulation of behavior.  And that is when it turns into abuse.  This is especially true when it becomes a regular occurrence over healthier forms of communication.

How We Weaponize The Bible

There are many ways that people weaponize the Bible in wrong ways.  Here is a list of some of the biggest ways we can do this.

  • Using the Bible to highlight shame and failure rather than informing with encouragement and a way to move forward.  This doesn’t mean that we sugarcoat sin or hide it under a rug.  We must encourage each other to grow in our faith.  But when people are being made to feel hopelessly defeated instead of hopeful of progress, then we are using the Bible as a weapon.
  • When Scripture is being quoted that communicates a different message than the one intended.  We manipulate the Gospel for evil when we twist the original meaning to attack and tear down rather than walk alongside fellow believers and family members.
  • We weaponize the Bible when we hold others accountable for certain Scriptures without holding ourselves accountable.  Often, this type of spiritual abuse actually goes against more verses in the Bible than verses it would support.
  • The Bible is used as a weapon when religion and spirituality turns into a bunch of rules to follow rather than a life of dedication and service to God and man.  When Christians are too busy trying to make sure they follow every rule to the letter, they are no longer serving with their heart and life.  They are so distracted from real Christianity that they cannot live a good Christian life.
  • The Bible is used as a weapon when Christians live in fear instead of in the grace of God.  There are times when fear in the Christian life is normal.  We can fear persecution.  We can fear the future for a little bit.  But when it becomes our focus, it is wrong.  There are tons of Scriptures that attest to that.  Matthew 10:28 says “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”  There is a place for fear, but not in our everyday Christian life.

I could probably list hundreds of other ways the Bible is used as a weapon against others.  But this should give you a good idea of what it looks like in practice.

When the Bible is Used as a Weapon Against You

Examples in Scripture of The Bible Being Used as a Weapon

In the New Testament, Jesus spoke frequently about the Pharisees weaponizing the Bible against others.  They thought they were the best servants of God.  They bragged incessesantly about how godly they were and how sinful everyone else was.  And in return, Jesus called them whitewashed tombs, fools, serpents, blind guides, hypocrites, and fools.  He was not a fan of the “extreme godliness” of the Pharisees (and the Scribes for that matter).

Check out these examples that Jesus specifically gave of Pharisees using Scripture against people instead of for their encouragement in the faith.

  • According to Matthew 23:3, Jesus said “you must obey them and do everything they tell you.  But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”
  • Jesus said they “tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” Mathew 23:4
  • He said “everything they do is done for men to see.”  Matthew 23:5
  • Jesus went on to say that the Pharisees shut the kindgom of Heaven in men’s faces.
  • Even worse, Jesus says they “travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a sone of hell as you are.”  Matthew 23:15
  • In Luke 11:37-53, Jesus was invited to dinner by a Pharisee.  While there, the Pharisee corrected Jesus for not washing before the meal.  Jesus let loose on him and said, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.  You foolish people!”
  • He went on to say, “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue, and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God.  You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.

Jesus goes further than this.  Click to check out Matthew 23 and Luke 11 to see everything He had to say to the Pharisees.

Using God’s Word to Hurt Someone

The Bible is referred to as the Sword of the Spirit (more on that later).  So, it can be used as a weapon.  But it can be used as a weapon for good or bad.  When people use it to hurt others, major damage can result.  It can cause people to take a step back from God or even walk away from their faith altogether. 

This happened in my home.  My ex-husband berated the kids and me endlessly with how we needed to behave.  He always gave us Scriptures to tell us what we were doing wrong and how we could be better Christians–like him.  He never missed an opportunity to tell us what we were doing wrong and how much better he was if we would just listen and obey him. 

Many of the Scriptures he used were twisted so far out of context that they no longer made sense.  And fortunately, we realized it.  But that didn’t make it easier.  He was still demanding obedience.  And we weren’t falling in line enough to satiate his need for our subservience.  

When the Bible is used as a weapon against others, it kills the life of the Bible.  The message of the law of the Bible is that we can never be good enough.  But the message of the Gospel is that in Christ we have a new life.  And grace abounds.  2 Corinthians 3:6 says, “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

If you are bombarded with the letter of the law, know that this is not what God has for you.  Find support that will help you recognize what God actually does want for you!

When Someone Uses Scripture Against You

So, what do you do when someone uses Scripture against you?  Do you just ignore them?  Or do you do what they say just to keep them from bullying and bothering you with their constant “help?”  Do you try to avoid them at all costs?

These may be what we initially want to do to avoid being beat over the head with the Bible.  But it doesn’t really help in the long term.  It may keep abusers from being able to get to you.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t change their behavior or prevent them from beating others over the head with the Word of God.

Here are a few things you can do when someone uses Scripture against you instead of to help you in your sprititual walk.

  • When you feel like Scripture is being used against you instead of for your benefit, study to find out.  Find Bible study books that can help you.  Better yet, find a friend that can help you to see what Scripture is really saying.  This is very important because if Scripture has been used against you for a very long time it may be hard for you to see what it is really saying.
  • Find a supportive community that loves the Lord and extends grace to you as you walk along the path God has for you.
  • Don’t swing too far the other way.  Know that God does have expectations for your life.  But also know that He knows you are human.  He will walk with you even when you are struggling.  Especially when you are struggling.
  • Know that Jesus is on your side, regardless of where you are at in you spiritual life.  He isn’t waiting for you to reach some goal before He supports you.  The Bible contains many stories of Jesus bringing people to him to rest even with very shady pasts!

The Bible Used as a Weapon Against You


The Bible is not a Weapon

When we think of a weapon, we think of a tool used to destroy or do damage to others.  So, in that context, the Bible is absolutely not a weapon.

Unfortunately, people throughout the world and throughout history have used the Bible as a weapon.  People have used it to control others, often misquoting for the sake of getting that control.  Men working for Hitler actually rewrote the Bible, making God’s chosen people appear to be God’s least favorite people.  Then they handed the new version out to their army, convincing them of the justification for the atrocities committed against the Jews.  You know how that ended.

Everyday people use it just to get what they want.  The Bible is used as a weapon by pastors who want more out of their congregation.  Husbands use the Bible as a weapon to control their wives and children for that matter.  Bosses in religious organizations us the Bible as a weapon to get more productivity out of their employees.  Organizations use it for political gain.

This is not how God expects us to use His Word.  We are to show grace, love, and forgiveness.  How can we bring others to a knowledge of the saving grace and love of Jesus if we are using the Bible to clobber people over the head like a club?  

If we look at the example of Jesus, He didn’t try to use the Bible to force people to obey or control them.  He used it to love them and help them see the way.  He used it to deliver sinners of all kinds:  adulterous women, tax collectors, robbers, and so many more.  Literally all who came to Him were blessed by His love if they were seeking Him sincerely.

Here is an interesting tidbit:  Satan used the Bible as a weapon against Jesus to take away the Savior of the world. 

The One Time the Bible Can be Used as a Weapon 

There is one time that the Bible was considered a suitable weapon.  It’s actually in the Bible itself!  In Ephesians 6, we are given the armor of the Lord.  It is to help us fight the fight of faith.  And included in that armor is the sword of the spirit, which is really the Word of God.  

Let’s take a look at the verses that outline the armor of God.  It is in Ephesians 6:13-17.  

13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

When you read this passage, notice that the rest of the armor is worn on the body, while the sword is the only weapon.  And it is the Word of God, which makes it not a weapon for killing others, but for defeating Satan in the spiritual realm.  It is never meant to beat people over the head with.  


You would think that at the dinner Jesus had with the Pharisees and experts in Jewish law, they would have been grateful for the teaching that came directly from the mouth of God.  But no.  Instead, Luke 11:53 says that, “When Jesus left there the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, waiting to catch him in something he might say.”  They didn’t learn a thing.  And yet they were literally sitting at the feet of Jesus!

Pharisees may no longer be walking around in our day.  But that doesn’t mean their playbook is no longer being used. Hypocrisy is still alive and well.  People use the Bible as a weapon just as much now as they were back in Jesus’ day.  And that likely won’t change anytime this side of Heaven.

If you liked this article, I think you will also love the following articles:

The Link Between Spiritual Abuse and Narcissism

What Does the Bible Say About Abusive Husbands?

The Link Between Spiritual Abuse and Narcissism

Can a Narcissist Change for Love?

Why are You Attracting Narcissists?

How to Help a Narcissist Heal

Why Narcissists Love Going to Church

Does a Narcissist Know They are a Narcissist?

How Religious Narcissists Think?

Can a Narcissist be a Good Person?

Narcissistic Behavior:  What to Look Out For

Praying for Your Narcissistic Husband

Are Spiritual Narcissists Overt or Covert?

How to Navigate Religious Narcissistic Parents

What Happens to the Soul of a Narcissist?

How to Heal From a Spiritual Narcissist

Can You Maintain a Relationship With a Spiritual Narcissist?

Can Narcissists Have a Spiritual Awakening?

How Will God Judge a Narcissist?

When the Church Says to Move Back in With Your Narcissist

What Can We Say to a Friend Who’s Divorcing

23 Reasons Why Narcissists are Drawn to the Church

When the Church Doesn’t Recognize Narcissistic Abuse

Will the Church Support Divorcing a Narcissist?

What Does the Bible Say About Narcissism?

Can a Spiritual Narcissist Heal?

Can a Narcissist Be a Christian?

What is Spiritual Narcissism?

What Does the Spiritual Narcissist Do When You Try to Leave?   

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Hi! I am the founder of Navigating Religious Narcissism after being raised under a narcissistic mother and married to a narcissistic man for 31 years. It is my prayer that I can be as valuable on your journey to healing and peace as were so many who crossed my path of healing.

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