[PC-USA]2016-01-05 - Bible Misquotes

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Through the years, I have noticed that the Bible is sometimes misquoted, and occasionally even by Christians. In this devotional, we'll look at several commonly-believed "verses" from the Bible. I'll start out with a pop quiz. Even if you aren't like me, a person who enjoys tests, don't worry; no one will see the results, and there will be no grades! (Though I would love to hear back from you guys, as always.) See if you know whether these are true or false.

  1. The Bible says that money is the root of all evil.
  2. The Bible says that God helps those who help themselves.
  3. The Bible tells us not to be judgemental, but rather to live and let live.
  4. Cleanliness is Next to Godliness.

The truth is that this was a tricky quiz, because all four answers are false. None of these are in the Bible. Let's look at each one, individually.

  1. First, this quote is partially true. In 1 Timothy 6:10, Paul spoke of money and its relation to evil. But it wasn't money itself that is evil; rather it's an unhealthy relationship with money. When someone loves money, that is what causes the evil.

    1 Timothy 6:10 (NASB) For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

    In addition, this quote is usually attributed to Christ, and actually it was written by the Apostle Paul, in one of his epistles (letters) to one of his protégés, Timothy.

    Personal note: In all honesty, I will tell y'all that though I have studied the Bible for many years - and have been active in churches all my life - for many years, I myself thought that Jesus said that, not Paul!

  2. God does say that we should each do our part. We shouldn't expect anyone to do everything for us. Every one of us has a role to play in bringing in God's Kingdom and serving Him, and no one can or should do our part for us.

    Galatians 6: 4-5 (MSG)
    Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

    But nowhere does the Bible say that God's salvation depends on our helping ourselves. In fact, the Bible is clear that salvation comes not from our own works but as a gift:

    Ephesians 2:6 (MSG)
    He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

    What the Bible does say is that when we help others, God will bless us.

    Luke 6:38b Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.

  3. This one's complicated. In Matthew 7: 1-5, Christ does warn his listeners not to judge others' HEARTS. It's not our place to decide whether someone is going to Heaven or Hell, and it's presumptuous of us to pronounce upon this. This brings to my mind, the people who insensitively and cruelly picket at funerals, yelling that the deceased loved one is going to Hell. Certainly the motive isn't to bring the alleged sinner to repentance, since that person is already dead. So there is simply no excuse for this unloving behavior. No wonder people sometimes get the wrong idea about Christians.

    But in fact, as Christians, we are given the responsibility to be judges in some matters - such as being discerning about doctrine (See 1 Thessalonians 5:21). And in Philippians 3:2, we are advised to discern or judge people's behavior, but not their hearts or relationship with God - though it can certainly be argued that most often, behavior is evidence of such.

    In addition, it is necessary for us to judge behavior, in order to avoid condoning or participating in it:

    1 Corinthians 15: 33 (NASB) Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals."

  4. Lastly, in spite of the wishes of germophobes like myself, the quote about cleanliness is not in the Bible. What Christ actually said about cleanliness is as follows:

    Matthew 15:1-13
    Then some Pharisees and scribes *came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” 3 And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother is to [a]be put to death.’ 5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,” 6 he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:

    8 ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. 9 ‘But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”

    10 After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, “Hear and understand. 11 It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.”

    12 Then the disciples *came and *said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” 13 But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted.

If you run into any other misquotes from the Bible, I would love to hear them.

May we strive to accurately quote and lovingly share God's word with those around us.

[email jan] Janice P. Moser

All scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.

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