Made Up Bible Verses

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There are several phrases that have become commonplace in American culture. Many people believe they are in the Bible, but the Bible actually says the exact opposite.

God helps those who help themselves

This "verse" encompasses the American Dream. What is the American Dream? That anyone can be born in or come to the country with nothing and become billionaires. There are many American "rags to riches" stories that summarize this idea. Just a few among them are:

  • John D. Rockefeller (Standard Oil)
  • Bill Gates (Microsoft)
  • Sergey Brin & Larry Page (Google)
  • Sean Parker & Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook)
  • Jeff Bezos (Amazon)
  • Oprah Winfrey (Harpo Productions)

However, very few, if any, of these guys would claim any part of their fortune as being from God's help. This verse is more in line with Aesop's fables than the Bible.

What does the Bible say?

  • Psalm 121:2 - "My help comes from the LORD, who made Heaven and earth."
  • Exodus 14:13-14 - "The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace."
  • Psalm 46:10 - "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth."
  • 2 Corinthians 9:8 - "God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work."

God helps His people, but His help is never given when the people prove themselves.

Check out the miracles throughout the Gospels:

  • Luke 8:26-39 - Gergesene demoniac/Legion
  • Luke 8:41-56 - healing of the woman with the flow of blood and the raising of the synagogue ruler's daughter.
  • Luke 14:1-6 - healing of a man with dropsy on the Sabbath
  • Luke 17:11-19 - healing of the ten lepers

God won't give you more than you can handle

This verse is a corruption of 1 Corinthians 10:13: "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."

Nowhere does Paul say in this verse that we will be able to handle what God allows to happen to us. God purposely allows more than what we can handle to show us that we need Him. Original sin makes us believe that we can take care of things on our own. This verse dovetails into the previous fake verse because we naturally think that we just need God's help.

It's the proverbial Evangelical view on justification. We take the ball all the way down to the one-yard line. Jesus has to come along and bring it into the end zone. Sometimes, you will hear it the other way around. Jesus, through His death and resurrection, have brought the ball to the one-yard line. It's our job, through accepting Him as our Lord and Savior and giving Him our heart to carry our salvation into the end zone.

This picture is nothing other than Pelagian pride. That we only need a little bit of God's help with our salvation. God gives us much more than we can handle so that we may learn to rely solely on Him. We need Jesus for everything when it comes to our salvation. Any part that we might play, no matter how small, is nothing but sinful pride. And as Solomon said, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18).

God wants you to be happy

This leads us into the third fake verse that too many people believe is in the Bible: "God wants you to be happy."

Our country celebrated Pride month last month. Minneapolis had its own parade and festivities. The biggest lie that Satan has used to convince the LGBTQ+ community is "God wants you to be happy."

Happiness is what makes me feel good. And if I feel good, God must be happy with me. You don't have to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community to understand this. TV preachers have been selling this lie for decades. They encourage you to buy their books to show you how to have Your Best Life Now or how to fight on the Battlefield of the Mind.

Everything revolves around you. That's sinful human pride rearing its ugly head again. When your sole purpose in life every day is to pursue happiness at all costs, who ends up being your god?

Your happiness is not what God is primarily concerned about. He is primarily concerned about the salvation of souls. He "desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4). Through this knowledge of the truth, God raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6-7).

The first question this fake verse brings to mind is: "Do real Christians suffer?" The Bible is filled with examples that answer the question positively.

  • Job 1:13-2:15
  • 2 Corinthians 11:22-33
  • Luke 22-23

Honestly, God doesn't care about your happiness. He cares about your faithfulness. Job, Paul and Jesus were all faithful in their trials. Many, many others have followed suit throughout the centuries. They were real Christians who really suffered and remained faithful to their Savior because they understand what Paul writes at the end of Romans 8.

  • Romans 8:37-39

Another question that comes from this fake verse: "Is all happiness God-pleasing?" Many people are perfectly happy breaking one or more of God's commandments. Is this pleasing to God? Why else would He have given us the Ten Commandments? Let's take a moment to look at the Close of the Commandments in the Small Catechism:

What does God say about all these commandments?
He says: "I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments." [Exodus 20:5-6]
What does this mean?
God threatens to punish all who break these commandments. Therefore, we should fear His wrath and not do anything against them. But He promises grace and every blessing to all who keep these commandments. Therefore, we should also love and trust in Him and gladly do what He commands.

God is serious about what is pleasing to Him. And none of it involves your happiness.

Follow your heart and believe, and you can do anything

This fake verse is brought to us by the great prophets and apostles at Disney. This is one of the great plot bases for almost all of their movies. The Toy Story franchise is a great example.

  • In the first movie, Woody had to deal with competition for Andy's favorite toy. In the end, he has to follow his heart to reunite Andy and Buzz.
  • Toy Story 2 has Woody facing the fact that Andy is getting older. When the opportunity to be part of an exclusive toy museum exhibit, he has to struggle with which direction his heart wanted to go.
  • Toy Story 3 has Andy graduating from high school and getting ready to go to college. When the toys are donated to a day care, Barbie has the struggle of staying in the Dream House with the older toys or remaining faithful to her friends.
  • Toy Story 4 again focuses on Woody and his anxiety over his place among the toys in Bonnie's room.

In these, and all of Disney's movies, it always works out for the character involved in the struggle of the heart. It's the perpetual "happily ever after" for them.

However, this fake verse flies in the face of the fact that God has created each and every one of us with a specific purpose. "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). Just because you really want to do something doesn't mean it's going to happen.

King Solomon tried to live this way (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11). Even though he followed his heart, his heart turned away from the LORD (1 Kings 11:1-7). When we try to go our own way, we find nothing but heartbreak and foolishness (Luke 12:13-21).

But God has created each of us to do something in His kingdom. Some have very special places they will inhabit. Others have rather mundane places.

  • God created David to be king over His people. This promise was given all the way back in Genesis to David's forefather Judah (Genesis 49:10).
  • John the Baptizer was created to be Jesus' forerunner (Luke 1:5-25). This was also prophesied centuries before (Malachi 4:5-6).
  • Think about the Seventy we talked about today. No names, but they were created to be in those positions.

If you work hard enough, you will be successful

This fake verse is simply blatant works righteousness. It is also another corruption of an actual Bible verse: "If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10). This verse is speaking against laziness instead of commending struggling to become righteous or to save yourself.

The idea behind this fake verse brings us back to the American Dream found in the first verse we looked at. Those who achieved their self-made billionaire status worked hard for it. We want to make that a one-to-one correlation, but it doesn't always work that way.

The most successful man in the entire world was Jesus. But what does He say about Himself? (Luke 9:57-58)