Would you believe there are some secular sayings that sound so religious people often believe they came from the Bible?
These pieces of presumed Christian “wisdom” can sound biblical on the surface, but a closer look at Scripture will show you that some of them are actually far from the truth of God’s Word.
Here are five sayings that are NOT a part of Scripture:
1. God helps those who help themselves.
I’m sure you’ve heard it and possibly even said it to encourage someone to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get it done. But this verse is not in the Bible. And its premise is not true. To the contrary, God helps those who admit they can’t help themselves.
Scripture is loaded with examples of God calling weak, humble people who would have been inadequate for the Lord’s work without His enabling strength. Scripture says that Christ’s power is made perfect in our weakness. And Paul states “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NIV).
Furthermore, James 4:10 tells us “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” If God helped those who helped themselves, that verse would read: “Show yourself capable and God will come along and help.” Many times those of us who believe we can help ourselves don’t feel we need God and therefore, we don’t rely on Him. God wants us to admit we’re helpless so we can start depending on His strength to get us through situations. That is faith.
2. God won’t give you more than you can handle.
I think we’ve all said this at one time or another, primarily to comfort another believer or even an unbeliever who is struggling with something or fearful that something bad might happen. But this verse does not exist. And this statement doesn’t hold true. God will often give us more than we can handle so that we will depend on Him to carry the burden for us.
Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (NKJV), and Matthew 11:28-30 tells us to come to Him when we are weary and take His yoke upon us so we can bear a load that is too heavy to lift ourselves.
I believe we get the idea that God won’t give us more than we can bear from 1 Corinthians 10:13 which tells us “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” That verse tells us God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to resist. But He will allow us to struggle beyond our capacity in other aspects of life so we understand what it means to surrender and allow Him to carry the burden for us.
3. We are all God’s children.
Here’s another one that sounds true. And although God is the Creator of all, He is not the father of all. Romans 8:9 clearly tells us “if anyone does not have the spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”
Jesus said those who are apart from Him are children of Satan, the “father of lies” (John 8:44) and Romans 8:15 tells us when we receive God’s spirit we have received “a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’” God adopts us through our surrender to Christ Jesus. Therefore, a more accurate saying is: We are all God’s creation, but we are not all God’s children.
4. The sinner’s prayer.
As I was discipling a young believer, I asked her if she had ever said “the sinner’s prayer.” She read it in the discipleship material we had in front of us and then asked me where it was found in the Bible. “Well, it’s not. It’s implied,” I said.
This is a tough one for us because we want to point to something in the Bible that someone needs to actually say in order to be saved. However, Romans 10:9-10 says “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” No wordy prayer involving the words “repent” or “confess” or asking Jesus to “come into our hearts” exists in Scripture.
What we do find, however, are short heartfelt cries for God’s mercy, including: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42), and “Lord, I believe” (John 9:38).
5. God works in mysterious ways.
This might be one of the most quoted sayings of all time when it comes to God. The only problem is that it isn’t a verse in the Bible. Yes, God does work in ways we don’t understand, but this saying is most likely a simplified paraphrasing of two verses.
Ecclesiastes 11:5 says,“As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.” And Jeremiah 33:3 reads, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” In this case, it’s not that this saying is wrong, it’s simply not in the Bible.
Can you think of some more sayings that people quote as if they’re Scripture? Include them in the comment section below as a way of letting others know what is not, in fact, in the Bible.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and best-selling author who helps women and couples find strength for the soul. She is the author of 15 books, including When Women Walk Alone, When Couples Walk Together, God's Whispers to a Woman's Heart, and her newest, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom. For more on her books, ministry, or free resources to strengthen your soul or marriage, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com
Publication date: July 12, 2016