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7 Mistaken Quotes Attributed to the Bible

Lori Colbo loves to write about her Christian faith and the Bible to encourage and inspire others.

The Bible is the only true and inspired word of God.

The Bible is the only true and inspired word of God.

It's funny how the world quotes from the Bible those verses which aren't actually in the Bible. Then there are misquotes where they have the correct Scripture but the wrong wording. There also are a few terms Christian's refer too, where the word isn't actually in the Bible, but the concept or truth of it is. This is a fun, rather amusing study. Follow along and find out what the Bible doesn't say.

"Cleanliness is Next to Godliness"

This is a proverb-sounding verse, but this phrase is not in the bible. It is attributed most often to the preacher John Wesley (co-founder of the Methodist church) who said it in his sermon On Dress. 1 Pascal Tréguer suggests John Wesley was quoting it from elsewhere because it was written in quotations. 2

There is an argument to be made for Old Testament Scriptures that talk about ritual cleansing. Cleansing hands, washing of feet, baptism to name a few. The Jewish people for centuries practiced these rituals. Also at play are the Old Testament laws that deemed people, places, and things as clean or unclean, common, defiled, unholy, profane. Most of these come from the book of Leviticus. The dietary laws said certain animals were "unclean" to eat and also unclean for sacrifice. Women going through their monthly cycle were unclean and any object they sat on or touched became unclean. Diseases made people unclean, most notably Leprosy. Dead bodies, bodily emissions, and hundreds of other things. The bible is not talking about good hygiene or when it talks about ritual cleansing and all the rest.

These laws were related to what is fit (clean) or unfit (unclean) to use or do in worship. It was also about being set apart from the impurities of the world. 3

God cares that we are holy. Holy means to set apart to God and for His glory. All that we say and do should set us apart from the world.

Leviticus 11:45 states, "For I am the LORD, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt so that I would be your God; therefore be holy because I am holy."

Peter quoted this passage in 1 Peter 1:15-16: "But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: 'Be holy because I am holy.'”

God Helps Those Who Help Themselves

"God helps those who help themselves"

Sorry, this is not in the Bible, nor is it biblical. This maxim is commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin from his Farmers Almanac 1757 or to English politician Algernon Sydney in his article Discourses Concerning Government in 1698.4 It has also been attributed in slightly different form to some of the ancient Greek tragedies. It could be Benjamin Franklin heard it from Algernon Sydney's work and Algernon heard it elsewhere. It doesn't seem to be clear.

This quote is really quite opposite of what the bible teaches. Take for example the following Scriptures:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path" (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Thus says the LORD, "Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the LORD (Jeremiah 17:5).

He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered (Proverbs 28:26).

The Bible teaches us that without God, we will go astray. We cannot depend on ourselves. We are not perfect, we are not God, and we are sinners, every last one of us.


God Won't Give You More Than You Can Handle

This saying is not in the Scriptures. It implies that God gives you trials but knows your limitations and won't make them more than you can handle on your own. First of all, God does not give us every trial. He allows them so that you will gain wisdom, grow in faith, and develop endurance. Philippians 4:13 says: I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

There are times God tests us. Test in this sense doesn't mean tempt into sin, but to allow hardship to prove or perfect our faith. There are more stories in the bible than I can count when God tested the faith of the saints. Job probably had the worst testing of all and God was glorified and Job saw God's glory in a way he never had before.

This saying may have been attributed to 2 Corinthians 10:13 which says, No temptation has overtaken you except that which is common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

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Breaking this verse down it says that our temptations and trials are not unique to everyone else's. Each temptation is common to man. We tend to think ours are worse than everyone else's, or we think it is impossible to overcome. And yes, they can be overwhelming. But God does not leave you alone to work it out. It says He is faithful and will provide a way of escape that you will be able to bear it. It doesn't say He will let you escape the temptation or trial altogether, but a way to bear it. He is the answer, He is our strength, He is the way maker. Don't ever think you have to handle trials and temptations on your own. He is faithful, He will help you.