“Who do you say I am?” ~ Jesus Christ.
I once did a Beth Moore Bible study entitled Believing God, and in it she made the point that many of us have been worshiping a god we have fashioned out of beliefs that are, in fact, quite contrary to the God of the Bible. I believe this is absolutely true, and what I see as a Christian counselor is that a false belief system can be far more harmful to our psyche than no belief system at all. What is even more alarming about this is how prevalent this problem is in the body of Christ.
To demonstrate how these false beliefs can infiltrate a believer’s mind I am going to use just a few of the most often heard myths and misquotes of scripture that I have come across. How about this favorite, “God helps those who help themselves.” Contrary to popular belief, that is not even in the Bible, but is a quote from Benjamin Franklin. The Bible says that God is “a defense for the helpless” (Isaiah 25:4), and He uses the “weak to shame the strong” (1 Cor 1:27). The problem with this is that by believing that God only helps you when you help yourself, you have just fashioned a god who values self-reliance, instead of relying on Christ who says “apart from Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
The next one is the most frequently misquoted scripture I hear in my office, “God won’t put anything more on me than I can handle.” The implication from this is that God is up there dumping unspeakable horrors on His children…but only as much as they can bear. What the Bible truly says is “God is faithful, and will not let you be TEMPTED beyond what you can bear” (1 Cor 10:13). Do you see the difference? The true scripture is saying that our God is not only loving and faithful, but protecting us from undue temptation. I don’t know about you, but I find great comfort in knowing that my Heavenly Daddy won’t let any temptation steamroll me because He is faithful to me. The misquote is horrifying, the truth is liberating.
How about this one? “You had better be careful of what you pray because God just might give it to you!” I must admit, this is one that I used to believe. I came to that belief after hearing horror stories of how people had prayed for patience and some terrible calamity had occurred. Frankly, I was afraid to pray for God to glorify Himself in my life, because I was afraid that He would give me sickness. To quote Brennan Manning, “Oh God, what madness I have preached!” While I do believe that each one of these false beliefs is from Satan himself, I believe this one may be the worst, because it makes us afraid to pray. The truth is that Jesus said “what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:9-10). My friends, Jesus assured us in John 10:10 that Satan is a thief who came to “steal, kill, and destroy” but that Jesus came to give us abundant life. In brief, if it feels like killing or stealing, it is from the enemy, if it feels like abundant life that is our God. Furthermore, it says in Romans 2:4 that it is God’s goodness that leads us to repentance. Does that sound like a God who’s just itching to smite you if you pray for patience?
That leads to a whole series of false beliefs about sickness and healing. For example, “God gave me this depression (or sickness, or fill in the blank) as a gift to teach me a lesson.” If depression or sickness was a gift, why did Jesus spend His entire ministry healing people of those problems? Remember, Jesus is the exact representation of God. If you really want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. He never once handed out a dose of leprosy to teach someone a lesson. He also never, and I do mean never, passed by someone who was sick without healing them. Indeed, Psalm 103:1-5, which is our benefit package as believers, contains the benefit of all our diseases being healed. So, is healing part of God’s will? You betcha!
Next blog I will put all of these myths and misquotes together so you can see how damaging these beliefs can be in a Christian’s life. Until then, pray big prayers, you have a really big and marvelous God!
by Cris Corzine-McCloskey