These Phrases Seem Biblical, But Are They?

By   •   August 12, 2021   •   Topics:

Woman with Bible

“Cleanliness is next to godliness.”

Did your mom ever recite that phrase when you refused to clean your room as a child? Maybe you’ve even corrected your own children with those words.

While many people believe the phrase comes straight from the Bible, it doesn’t. And this isn’t the only common saying you can’t find in God’s Word.

Find out just how Biblical this phrase, and three others, really are.

1. Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness

This statement originated in the 17th century, when the term “cleanliness” meant both physical and moral purity. The most direct version comes from a sermon by theologian and evangelist John Wesley: “Cleanliness is, indeed, next to godliness.”

Cleanliness is a way to steward the things God has given you—including your body. The outbreak of COVID-19 has only reinforced the value of physical hygiene.

But even more importantly, God calls you to have a clean heart.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” —Romans 12:1

>>Explore this phrase more in this Billy Graham answer.

2. This Too Shall Pass

While ringed with Biblical truth, this phrase actually comes from a Jewish folktale.

The story goes something like this. King Solomon sent a servant to find a magical solution to make sad people happy and happy people sad.

What did the servant find? A ring bearing the description, “This too shall pass.”

The term has a two-fold meaning. It encourages those going through challenging times, and it warns those putting too much stock in earthly things.

Christians know that the trials and joys of this world will not last forever. Christ will return and wipe away every tear. On that day, His followers will know joy that overshadows any experience on this earth.

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

“My hope does not rest in the affairs of this world. It rests in Christ who is coming again.” —Billy Graham

>>Find strength for today in this Billy Graham sermon: Christ Is Our Hope

3. Money Is the Root of All Evil

The Bible frequently mentions money, but this specific idea is not found in its pages.

The phrase is actually a misquotation of 1 Timothy 6:10: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”

Do you see the difference? The passage doesn’t say that money is the root of evil. Instead, it warns against the love of money.

“There is nothing wrong with men possessing riches.” Billy Graham once said. “The wrong comes when riches possess men.”

>>See what else the Bible says about money.

4. God Helps Those Who Help Themselves

In 1773, Benjamin Franklin published these words in his famous pamphlet, Poor Richard’s Almanac.

But is this concept Biblical?

Billy Graham once said: “People need to work and be responsible for their actions, and when they aren’t, society suffers (as do they). God didn’t intend for us to spend our lives pursuing pleasure or ease; He gave us work to do, and even ordinary tasks are important when they are done for Him.”

While God values work, He doesn’t require you to earn your place in heaven.

Romans explains, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Romans 3:23-24).

No matter how hard you work, you will continually fall short of perfection because of sin. Only by coming to Jesus Christ and putting your trust in Him can you be saved.

>>Read what else Billy Graham said about this phrase.

Do you have more questions about God and His Word? Find answers.