There are over 31,000 verses in the Bible, obviously more than enough Scriptural verses that can be quoted. However, a lot of popular phrases today claim to have biblical roots – when they actually do not. Here are just a few:
“God works in mysterious ways.”
Now, to be fair, some of them are acceptable summaries of biblical concepts. For example, “God works in mysterious ways” is a true statement. The prophet Isaiah wrote that God said this to mankind: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways” (Is 55:8). Anything we don’t understand is mysterious to us, and there is so much about God we don’t understand. So, mysterious is an appropriate word. God does indeed work in mysterious ways. It’s just there is no verse in the Bible that says it exactly that way.
The Lord has the perfect balancing act of love and forgiveness on the one hand, and righteousness and justice on the other hand. Sin is real, and God condemns it. But He also offers mercy and forgiveness to sinners, because He loves us so much. “Love the sinner and hate the sin” describes the divine balancing act, one we must strive to achieve. But just don’t waste your time trying to find that phrase in your Bible, because it’s not there.
“Love the sinner and hate the sin.”
This statement does a great job of summarizing one of Jesus’ main messages. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus offered this command to all of His followers: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44). To the woman caught in adultery, Jesus said, “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore” (John 8:11).
“God helps those who help themselves.”
There are other non-biblical phrases, which many people think are in Scripture, which do NOT summarize any clear Church teaching at all. For example, “God helps those who help themselves.” This expression might motivate someone to work a little harder, but it’s really the opposite of the Gospel message. The reason Jesus came to earth in the first place was because we human beings are unable to help ourselves. We’re stuck in our sin, and we need a divine Savior. We can’t earn our way into Heaven. Salvation is a completely undeserved gift offered by the Lord. As St. Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-9).
In a general sense, we know it’s true that people who work hard and don’t give up during difficult times end up much better off than people who get discouraged easily and throw in the towel. But from a theological point of view, the saying really ought to be, “God helps those who CAN’T help themselves.”
Other non-biblical phrases that fall into this category are things like “God will not give you more than you can handle.” And “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”
There are so many legitimate Bible verses that express important points. There is simply no need to make up fake verses. If people read the Bible more often, then maybe there would be less confusion about what is and is not a genuine quote from the Scriptures.
The Bible is the most important book in the world. It is the Word of God. We need to get more familiar with it, so we don’t get fooled by fake quotes. It is that important. As Jesus Himself said during the Last Supper, “To be, or not to be? That is the question.”