Abusing the Scriptures

Many Christians use the term "Sola Scriptura" when discussing or teaching their faith. Sola Scriptura is latin for "by Scripture alone". Simply put, Sola Scriptura means all doctrines (teachings) and what we as Christians hold as truth should come from the scriptures alone. 

If all Christian denominations are teaching from the same book, why are there thousands of denominations all claiming different beliefs?

Jesus came to this earth and veiled His divinity in humanity so that we might know Him. He came to teach and show us the Truth about God - He was the Truth. At the time of His first Advent men were in deep darkness, having lost their knowledge of God. When He arrived, men had scripture (the Torah). They rightly claimed that the Torah was the source of truth and all ideas should be tested from it (Isaiah 8:20). They had their history and the knowledge of the law of God, yet they did not comprehend the divine nature of Christ - instead, when they met their God face-to-face, they accused Him of being the devil and killed Him. The main threat to Jesus was the religious leaders and teachers; men who would undoubtedly agree with the principle of Sola Scriptura yet felt it their religious duty to stop the pure ministry of Christ. Their biggest problem? They didn't know God.

One day, Jesus said to these religious leaders and teachers who were offended by how he observed the Sabbath and that He had claimed God as His Father...

I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. ”If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. 
— John 5:30-31 

Here we see Jesus presenting a view of relationship; how He relates to men, the world and the Father. Restated, it might sound something like this...

"I can do nothing selfishly, from my own motives and not the motives of the Father. As I hear and see what is happening around me, I discern true motives...and I discern rightly because I do not seek my own will but in all things I want to know the will of the Father so that I may do it. If I say or do something apart from God's will, then I would actually be a liar."

Jesus knew and did rightly the will of the Father and this is the proof that He is the Son of God.

Of course this thought alone would not change the course of a religious leaders accustomed to using scripture to defend self (their own ideas/traditions), so Jesus adds more weight to the scale of proof...

There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true. You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Yet I do not receive testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved. He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light. But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me. 
— John 5:32-36 

Restated this might sounds something like this:

"You need more evidence? There is another person whom you actually went to for counsel and he told you about Me, that you should look to Me and behold Me as the one who can take away the sins of the world. He stated about me the very same things that I am now saying, and you enjoyed and listened to his Biblical teaching. But I am not willing to leave in the hands of men something that belongs only to God. I remind you of the evidence of John's witness, not because I need a man to verify my ministry, but because it might help you to accept my words of life. There is a greater witness of the Truth then the supposed authority or assent of a man, it is the works that I do. These selfless acts of healing and pure love clearly come only from the Father who sent me here to help you." 

Jesus wants them to understand that He does not justify Himself nor does he rely on the witness of other men; instead he relies wholly on the testimony of the Father (as they should also be doing) for the truth of who He is and what His ministry is. This testimony, in part, comes from the power that the Father put in Him to do unselfish works. The works reveal His connection to the Father and validate His claims.

Now He puts on the table the reason that they are unable to accept Him for what He is; even though all the outward evidence is stacked in favor of the Truth.

And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe.
— John 5:37-38 

In other words,

"The reason you cannot accept My testimony is because you've not only never seen God but you don't recognize His voice. His thoughts and characteristics are not in you or in accordance to your selfish hearts. Your thoughts and characteristics have not been conformed to His, therefore you cannot even recognize, believe or trust the One He sent."

Now He will make plain their problem, including the solution...

You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.
— John 5:39,40 

And here is the root of the problem of the abuse of the Word of God. Any of us can wield (read/quote from) the scriptures, they are free for all and should remain so for eternity, but, without the submission and conversion of the heart to a desire to do the will of God, they will only be used for our own selfish purposes. Without coming to Christ, to see the truth about God and letting that Truth subdue our selfish natures, we will only use God's Holy Word to protect self. We will claim the authority of scriptures to favor our cherished traditions and opinions, but will not be able to KNOW the One who spoke the scriptures into existence. 

Notice in Jesus' statement that the ones searching the scriptures think they can find eternal life in them, but they won't come to the One who spoke those words of life. 

Have you ever had a conversation or argument with someone who was really only listening to use your words against you? This is how many people use God's word. They read it and speak it with a spirit of selfishness and a lack of humility and therefore misrepresent God entirely while quoting Him word-for-word.

They think that eternal life comes from being biblically correct. If they use the correct exegesis and convince others that their exegesis is the only right approach, if they can stack up more proof text's then the other guy, they then feel more self assured. Their sense of salvation is built on self (self-righteousness), and since it is, when self feels justified they think they have eternal life. Because their assurance comes from the applause of men, when they start to lose that applause, when men are attracted to another idea, they must seek to destroy it. This is one reason the religious leaders sought to kill Jesus. 

Christ places eternal life on the grounds of coming to Him for the purpose of knowing Him; intimately loving Him and desiring to do His will. Attempting to do that will apart from Him and His power is attempting an impossibility. Make the bible your sole source of truth, but for the purpose of knowing God and being drawn to Him for strength and purpose. Study daily to find His Will/Character. This will not create self-righteousness, but you will see yourself as you truly are. You will see your great need. As you behold His goodness, He will woo you with His beauty and in humble repentance (which He puts in you) you will come to Him for healing. 

John 17:3 "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

Romans 2:4 'Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? '