John MacArthur has a very helpful article on “How to Study The Bible.” One of the dangers he cautions students of the Bible against is spiritualizing the text. Here is what he has to say:
“Don’t spiritualize the text. The first sermon I ever preached was really bad. My text was, “The angel rolled the stone away” from Matthew 28. I entitled my sermon, “Rolling Away the Stones in Your Life.” I talked about the stone of doubt, the stone of fear, and the stone of anger. Doubt, fear, and anger are all legitimate topics, but they have nothing to do with that verse! I call that “Little Bo Peep Preaching” because you don’t need the Bible; you can use anything–even “Little Bo Peep.”
Picture a preacher saying this: “Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep. All over the world people are lost. And can’t tell where to find them. But they’ll come home–ah, they’ll come.” Then you hear a tear-jerking story about sinners who came home “wagging their tails behind them!” Ridiculous? Yes, but unfortunately not too hard to imagine.
Many people tend to do that with the Old Testament. They turn it into a fairy tale with all kinds of hidden meanings–anything but what the text plainly states. Don’t spiritualize the Bible. It deserves more respect.”
You can read the whole thing here.