Did you know that these common sayings and ideas are not found in the Bible?
“Jesus excused the actions of sinners and tax collectors”
This is something that people often say is Biblical but it is actually twisting around what the Bible says.
We read in Matthew 9:10-11 (CEB), “As Jesus sat down to eat in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners joined Jesus and his disciples at the table. But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’”
But just because Jesus ate dinner with these people, that doesn’t mean that He excused their actions or thought they were acceptable. The story goes on in Matthew 9:12-13 (CEB), “When Jesus heard it, he said, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. Go and learn what this means: I want mercy and not sacrifice. I didn’t come to call righteous people, but sinners [to repentance].’”
Far from excusing their actions, Jesus sat with the sinners and tax collectors with the purpose to call them to repentance. He loved them, yes, but He did not excuse their sins. He loved them far too much to allow them to continue in their sin.
Far from having a relaxed attitude towards sin, Jesus worked to turn people to God!
“Everyone is a sinner”
This is a saying that is very close to being Biblical.
Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” So what’s the difference between “all have sinned” and “everyone is a sinner”? The first statement talks about the past, the second statement says that all are still sinners, now, in the present time. And a sinner is someone who knowingly sins. “All have sinned” is a true statement.
It’s also written in 1 John 1:8 that “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” But this is where most people get confused.
Just because I have sinned before and just because I have sin living in my human nature, that doesn’t mean that I have to continue doing sin, that I have to give in when I am tempted by the sin that lives in my nature. It doesn’t mean I have to be a sinner, someone who knowingly does sin. In fact, there are a lot of verses in the Bible that tell us to stop doing what we know is sin. One of these verses is Colossians 3:8-10 (NLT), which says:
“But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature [the old man] and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature [the new man], and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.”
It’s true that the “old man” mentioned here was a sinner. All have sinned. But the “new man” has put off his sins. 1 Peter 1:15 (CEB) even tells us, “You must be holy in every aspect of your lives, just as the one who called you is holy.”
So nowhere in the Bible it says that we have to remain sinners, but it tells us to become holy just as He who called us is holy.
“Believing in Jesus is all it takes to get to heaven”
Actually, this saying is Biblical. The Bible is very clear on this point, it says in John 3:16 (GNT), “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.” The problem is when people misunderstand what “believing in Jesus” really means.
It’s not enough to believe that there was a man named Jesus who was God’s Son and He wants to save you. But if you believe in Jesus, the real Jesus, as He’s written about in the Bible, then you have to believe in everything He has said and done as well.
“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NLT).
You can see how people might get confused. At first it looks like just believing in Jesus is enough to get eternal life, but here we read that the unrighteous people, those who do wrong, will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
But if you really believe in Jesus and in everything that is written about Him, then you would do everything to keep away from sinning. And then you wouldn’t be part of those who do wrong.
It is exactly as we read in James 2:17 (NLT), “So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” Faith cannot be separated from deeds. If you really believe in Jesus, then your faith would lead to good deeds. And if your life doesn’t show any good deeds then your faith is dead and you do not really believe in Jesus as He is written about.
So it’s not enough to believe that there was somebody named Jesus, but to get eternal life you have to believe in Jesus and do what He says. And belief in that Jesus means action.
“Everything works out well in the end”
This is something often said to people going through a hard time in their life. Or when things don’t go the way they want them to. They get this bit of comfort that after the sufferings have passed, God will work out everything well again in their life.
But that is not what it says in the Bible. The actual quote comes from Romans 8:28 (NLT), “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” And then it says in verse 29, “For God … chose them to become like his Son…”
It is written that all things work together for the good. Someone just added “in the end” to that sentence and changed the whole meaning. Instead of seeing that God wants to use this situation to change us on the inside, and be thankful for that, even for the things that seem to be bad, this line now just tries to comfort someone that things will soon look a bit better.
When we believe that “all things work together for good”, then we believe that even the things we think are bad, lead to something good. This is explained in 1 Peter 1:6-7 (GNT):
“Be glad about this, even though it may now be necessary for you to be sad for a while because of the many kinds of trials you suffer. Their purpose is to prove that your faith is genuine. Even gold, which can be destroyed, is tested by fire; and so your faith, which is much more precious than gold, must also be tested, so that it may endure. Then you will receive praise and glory and honor on the Day when Jesus Christ is revealed.” See also Romans 5:3-5.
It is amazing to think that even our trials and difficulties work together for our good as they are happening. When we come into difficult situations, many things can come up in us, like worry, unthankfulness, bitterness etc. Then, when we see these sins coming up, we can say No to them, or put them to death as it says in Colossians 3:5.
If we faithfully do this, we change to become like Christ, as it is written in Romans 8:29. We wouldn’t have been able to put something to death if we didn’t know it was there. So, our trials lead to us to being changed to become like Christ.
“Always be thankful for something”
This is based on the verse in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT), “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
“Always be thankful for something,” sounds just like this verse, just in other words. But actually, “always being thankful for something”, and “being thankful in everything” are two completely different things. This goes back to the verse in Romans 8:28. It’s not about finding something good in the midst of a terrible day. It’s about realising that even the things that seem to be bad, are things to thank God for. How else would we see the sin within us and be able to put it to death so that we can change on the inside?
It’s not about being thankful in spite of the bad things that come your way. It’s about being thankful for the bad things and in the bad situations. It’s in the hard trials of life that I can be cleansed and purified, and the result is that I become more like Jesus.
These words are also often used as an “encouragement” to compare yourself to others that have it worse than you. For example, they say to somebody struggling with financial problems: “Count your blessings. At least you have a house and a job.” Of course, we should be thankful for those things. But we should also be thankful for the things we don’t have.
We should be thankful when we are poor, or jobless, or whatever it is. It doesn’t mean that we don’t try to find a job, but while we are in the trial, we should be thankful. For the trials we go through only work together for our good, and how can somebody not be thankful for a life only filled with good?