Favorite Bible Verses That Aren’t in the Bible

With the degree of bible literacy going down every year, it’s really not surprising that so many people believe things they think are from the Bible but aren’t.

“God Helps Those Who Help Themselves.”

Not only is this verse not in the Bible, it’s the opposite of what the Bible teaches! A heart full of self-dependence and self-reliance says to God, “I don’t need You, I can do it myself. I can handle life without You.” God honors our choices and the exercise of our will; He doesn’t push His help on us. He waits for us to ask for it. He can’t help those who help themselves because we’re too busy doing to receive His strength and His help. It’s like the way you can’t fill a cup with coffee when it’s already full of tea. Jesus said, “Apart from Me, you can accomplish nothing” (John 15:5). But that doesn’t stop us from trying, does it? The truth is, God doesn’t help those who help themselves; God helps the helpless:

Romans 5:6  For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

“God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle.”

People get baffled and angry when bad things happen, and it just gets worse when God doesn’t make the difficult situation go away. We start wondering if God has gone on vacation because we’re nearing our breaking point and God isn’t stepping in to make things better.

The problem with this verse that isn’t in the Bible is that God is in the business of breaking His people so that we will get to the point of complete dependence on Him. Brokenness is a virtue, not something to be protected from. When the apostle Paul pleaded with God to remove his thorn in the flesh, God said no. Instead, He responded with an amazing promise: “My grace is enough for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:8). Paul realized that his weakness was the very key to experiencing God’s strength and not his own.

I love this definition of brokenness: “Brokenness is that place where we realize that all the things we counted on to make life work, don’t.” God makes life work. Formulas don’t. Our own efforts don’t. Trustful dependence on Him plugs us into the power source for life. And that often happens when we’ve crossed over the line of what we can handle on our own.

“Spare the rod, spoil the child.”

Nope, it’s not in the Bible. At least this saying. The principle, however, is:

The one who spares his rod hates his child,
but the one who loves his child is diligent in disciplining him. (Prov. 13:24)

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him. (Prov. 22:15)

Do not withhold discipline from a child;
even if you strike him with the rod, he will not die.
If you strike him with the rod,
you will deliver him from death. (Prov. 23:13-14)
“Cleanliness is next to godliness.

Not in the dictionary, and not in the Bible. Sorry. God cares a whole lot more about moral cleanness (confessing our sins and receiving His forgiveness and cleansing, 1 Jn. 1:9) than how dirty our skin (or our house) is.

“This too shall pass.”

If we focus on this idea, we can make the mistake of “white-knuckling” the difficulties of a trial, just waiting for it to be over the way we wait for a storm to blow over. But that’s the way to waste suffering, and do we really want to do that?

Rom. 5:3-5 gives us a better perspective: “. . .we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

“God works in mysterious ways.”

Over the millennia of church history, millions of people have learned biblical truth from hymns, and it’s easy to get confused. The first two lines of William Cowper’s hymn go, “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform.”

But it’s not scripture. Deut. 29:29, however, assures us: “Secret things belong to the Lord our God. . .” And God reminds Job that His ways are so far above and beyond Job’s “pay grade” that he should just be silent before Him and His mysterious ways.

What’s your favorite Bible verse that isn’t in the Bible?

Sue Bohlin

Sue Bohlin is a speaker/writer and webmistress for Probe Ministries, a Christian organization that helps people to think biblically. She loves teaching women and laughing, and if those two can be combined, all the better. She also loves speaking for MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) and Stonecroft Ministries (Christian Women's Clubs) on the topic How to Handle the Things You Hate But Can't Change, based on her lifelong experience as a polio survivor.

She has a freelance calligraphy business in her home studio; hand lettering was her "Proverbs 31 job" while her children were young. Sue also serves on the board of Living Hope Ministries, a Christ-centered organization that helps people struggling with unwanted homosexuality and the family members of those with same-sex attractions.

Sue never met a cruise ship she didn't like, especially now that God has provided a travel scooter for getting around any ship! She is happily married to Dr. Ray Bohlin, writer and speaker on faith and science with Probe Ministries, and they have two grown sons. You can follow Sue on Twitter @suebohlin.


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    Sharifa Stevens

    No More Than You Can Bear, Huh?

    …*groan* I just had a conversation with someone where I asked, "where is this principle found that God doesn't give us more than we can bear?" Answer: "it's in there. Trust me."

    I had a stream of narratives flood my brain where if God didn't show up, there would be NO human ability to progress. Ark. Red Sea. Jericho. Baal, bulls, and lots of water. Lazarus. The woman with the issue of blood.  The Cross and Tomb.

    I am so thankful to you for bringing this misunderstanding to light. I don't think a broken spirit and contrite heart come from 100% handleable (new word?) situations, but from humility and dependence.

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      Sue Bohlin

      “It’s in there. Trust me.”

      "It's in there. Trust me" is code for "Everybody says it, so it must be true, and it sounds like it's in the Bible even though I don't really know but hey, how can all those people be wrong?"

      When I was writing this, I held onto David's statement about a broken and contrite spirit for awhile before editing it out because of length. Letting us get to the end of ourselves is the best way for God to achieve that brokenness that lets Him shine through us, it seems to me!

      Thanks for your affirmation, Sharifa. I appreciate you!

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    Ana Clark

    I just knew that first one

    I just knew that first one would be there – have heard it so much!  The next one about God not giving us more than we can bear is quoted all the time… er, um… yeah, I've said it myself once or twice.  OK, but the actual scripture is talking about temptation: "And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." I Cor 10:13.   I love the Word – thanks for sharing, Sue!


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      Sue Bohlin

      You nailed it, Ana!

      I really do think that the promise that God will not allow temptations to overwhelm us without providing us with His strength is the core of the misunderstanding of this "Bible verse" that's not in the Bible. Thanks for ringing in! 🙂


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