I just love those Bible verses that people are convinced really exist but aren’t real, but should be. I think we have all heard them whether they are derived from popular imagination or misapplication or poor translation.
Here are some of my favourite Biblical non-quotes.
God helps those who help themselves
Definitely not in the Bible, not even once. It is often used as a justification for getting out there and achieving the goals you want to achieve, with little or no reflection on whether God might want the goal achieved or not.
In a sense this proverb is totally anti-christian. God saves us by grace. We have to come to a place where we realise that we are totally helpless and dependent on God alone. We cannot earn our way to heaven and we can do nothing to persuade God that we are good enough.
On the other hand, it is true that in many areas of life we have to work with God to achieve his purposes. We need evangelists to actually preach the gospel, teachers to teach God’s word, and of course somebody to clean the church bathrooms.
This one should be in the Bible, but with about two pages of footnotes explaining how it applies.
God inhabits the praises of His people.
Awesome verse this one. It suggests that when God’s people gather and praise Him from their heart, then He will come and inhabit the praise and be manifested among us.
This verse, which I really wish was in there, is a mangling of the KJV translation of Psalm 22:3.
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
2 O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
So the verse actually says that God inhabits the praises of Israel. If it applies to everyone who praises God then surely David, who would have been the world champion of praising, should not be so miserable and feeling abandoned by God.
The NIV translates Psalm 22:3 as:
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises
It does suggest in the footnotes the rendering “You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.”
It’s not as straight forward as we would like it to be. To me, what this verse is really saying is that God is in control and His people will praise Him regardless of how distant it seems that He is.
The anointing breaks the yoke
This one is often quoted as an encouragement that the presence of God’s Spirit (“the anointing”) breaks the opposition of the devil (“the yoke.”)
I absolutely agree with this, but it isn’t in the Bible.
The King James Version of Isaiah 10:27 says
And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.
The “he” in this verse is the King of Assyria who for a long time severely oppressed the nation of Israel. The promise is that the yoke of slaveryto the Assyrians would be broken by the Lord.
The NIV translates this verse as:
In that day their burden will be lifted from your shoulders,
their yoke from your neck;
the yoke will be broken
because you have grown so fat.
The NIV also gives the alternative translation as “the yoke will be broken from your shoulders.”
I don’t know why growing fat would cause the Lord to break the yoke, but that might just indicate a Hebrew verse that is hard to understand- that does happen occasionally.
In any event, this passage has little to do with the presence of the Holy Spirit smashing the bondage of demonic powers.
So another verse that should be there, but sadly isn’t. However, it is true that God is greater than all opposition- spiritual and human. As christians we can look to Him to break the yokes that hold us in bondage. That’s an issue of prayer, faithful obedience to God and faith in Him.
I understand that it is easy to talk in spiritual short hand and that sometimes that is helpful. But it is really important that we don’t build whole doctrines on Scriptures that don’t exist. Let’s try to stick to what the Bible says not what we half remember some preacher somewhere claims.