Be careful to know what Bible says, what it doesn't say


Dr. Clay Perkins


By D. Clay Perkins

Saturday, October 21, 2017

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:8 (The Bible, New International Version)

Is this phrase in the Bible? Go ahead, check your Bible knowledge on these 10 phrases. How many of these are from the Bible?

1. “Moderation in all things.”

2. “The Lord works in mysterious ways.”

3. “The lion will lay down with the lamb.”

4. “A fool and his money are soon departed.”

5. “This too shall pass.”

6. “Money is the root of all evil.”

7. “Pride comes before the fall.”

8. “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”

9. “God helps those who help themselves.”

10. “To thine own self be true.”

So what was your guess? Are five true? Seven? All 10? Drumroll, please. The answer is: none of these is from the Bible.

Number one: While moderation is of significant value, this phrase is not in the Bible. It is from the Greek poet Hesiod (c. 700 BC) and also a Roman comic dramatist Plautus (c. 250-184 BC).

Number two: The thought behind God’s working in mysterious ways can be found in Isaiah 55:8-9, but this wording is found in an English hymn written by William Cowper in 1773, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way.”

Number three: In Isaiah 11:6, it is the wolf that will live with the lamb and the leopard will lie down with the goat, calf, lion, and the yearling.

Number four: While a fool will lose his money, the verse often quoted is based on a couplet found in the writings of Thomas Tusser in the 1500s, “Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry.” The scripture used to support this idea, Proverbs 21:20, is referencing gulping down choice foods instead of saving for the future.

Number five: It is true all things will pass, but this proverb is from a Muslim poet, likely around 1200 AD, not from the Bible.

Number six: The love of money — not money itself — is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10).

Number seven: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

Number eight: I for one, really do like things clean and many Mosaic laws deal with cleanliness (see Leviticus), but you will not find this phrase in the Bible. It is difficult to know the origin of this one. John Wesley was perhaps the first to record it in a sermon, but the idea is ancient and is found in multiple cultures (Babylonian, Hebrew, and Greek, to name three).

Number nine: You will find God helping many in many ways, and God helping all with salvation, but this phrase is found in Ben Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanack,” and before that with English political theorist Algernon Sidney, and before that with Aeschylus (6th century BC).

Number ten: It is good to be true to yourself, at least according to Shakespeare in his play “Hamlet.”

Now, most, if not all, of the above 10 sayings are savvy. But you will not find them in the Bible. One must be very careful with the Bible. God’s word is not given to private interpretations (2 Peter 1:20-21). God’s word is not to be added to or any part of it deleted (Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32; Revelation 22:18). The Bible is different from all other books.

So be very careful and handle God’s word correctly (2 Timothy 2:15), and if we do so, there will be great benefit, according to the prophet Joshua (Joshua 1:8). Handling the Bible correctly requires we know what it says and what it does not say. Perhaps we should remind ourselves how one becomes an expert in detecting counterfeit money: you study the real money over and over again. You do not study counterfeit money. But if you know every line in real money, you can spot a fake a mile away.

So how did you do? Did you think one or more of these phrases was in the Bible? Make sure you study, read, meditate, and memorize the real Bible so you can spot a fake a mile away.

Stay focused.

D. Clay Perkins is an adjunct professor at Mid-Atlantic Christian University in Elizabeth City.