I’ve been saved and a professed Christian since 2002, but I’ve managed to say and believe a lot of things about God and my faith that I’ve only recently come to realize just simply aren’t true. Chief among these falsities are popular, albeit non-biblical phrases and contextually inaccurate scriptures often uttered by many Christians and non-Christians alike.
While we may say these things in an attempt to make sense of the world around us, to better understand God and to showcase our faith, the truth is many of these phrases either misrepresent God’s nature or they (inadvertently) hinder someone from coming to the true knowledge what it means to be Christian. Certainly, I don’t believe most of us mean to say these crazy things. It’s just that we don’t know any better. And we don’t know any better because we’ve not taken the time to study God’s Word. And we don’t study God’s Word because we are perfectly content with being lukewarm ‘Church Folk’ rather than true disciples of Jesus Christ. As such, we allow something the world made up to infiltrate our hearts and minds and pulpits because it sounds good.
But by virtue of God speaking His WORD and creating us in His image, He demonstrates to us that our words are also important. If we are speaking anything counter to His word, we put ourselves at a disadvantage (Proverbs 18:21). So, in an effort to begin to speak the truth (and to help us graduate from lowly lukewarm status), I’m glad to debunk popular phrases that are anti-biblical or just make absolutely no sense! Read on and keep checking back to see if your favorite saying made the cut. You're also welcome to offer suggestions in the comments section below.
“Don’t Be So Heavenly Bound that You’re No Earthly Good”
I used to say this ALLLLL of the time. I believe the surface intent of this phrase is to caution Christians from becoming "judgmental" and to be balanced in our approach to life and others. I totally get that.
But that's not how many young/immature Christians interpret it. We typically utter this man-made edict to excuse our lukewarmness. It is the “Lukewarmers' Creed” instituted by the International Association of Lukewarmers Anonymous! Many scream it anytime a Christian appears 'too focused' on God and not enough on the things of the world. I know it was thwarted my way when I didn't want hit the club, drink or date a guy of another faith. I've even said it to myself to give myself permission not to read my Bible or attend Church regularly because I was afraid such activities would make me "too spiritual". I didn’t want to look or become “weird” but to maintain "balance". But I now realize "balance", as I defined it, only meant "double-minded".
Truth is, to be “heavenly bound” means one is “growing in Christ”. They are maturing in the things of God. Their knowledge of the “Kingdom of God” is increasing. This is a GOOD THING and shouldn't be something that brings about shame. As a matter of fact, growing in the things of God is what ALL Christians are called to do (2 Peter 3:10-18).
We are ALL called to be "heavenly bound" and not to focus on earthly things because this life is not our final destination (Colossians 3:1-25). And we must always be ready for Christ's return (Matthew 24:44). Is that not the entire purpose of salvation? The entire point in becoming a Christian is to be saved and sanctified in this life and so that we can one day see God in eternity. The sanctification process removes our desire to be like the world or to love the things of it. Seeking material possessions, vanity, self-gratification, fame, pride, lusts - those are “earthly things”. God is not asking Christians to not enjoy our lives, but such joy comes from knowing Him and living for Him (Ecclesiastes 12:13; Romans 14:8; Isaiah 43:7 and elsewhere). If there be anything we need or desire to live on earth, we trust that He can provide it, and we needn’t do as the world does to survive, be confident, prosper, or to have peace. It shouldn’t be a Christian’s desire to be any “earthly good”. Being “earthly good” doesn’t benefit us. What benefits us is being transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).
And if the fear in being “heavenly bound” is that we would become judgmental or “weird”, I assure you that is actually the opposite of what occurs when a Christian matures. Having a mind of Christ actually makes us less "judgmental" (in the condemnation sense of the word) and more compassionate (John 8:1-11). We begin to truly understand that Christ came to save lives, not to condemn (John 3:17). Thus we are able to sympathize with someone’s condition, and when we offer any necessary correction it is done out of sincere concern and love (Ephesians 4:15) rather than an "earthly" spirit of pride.
Which brings me to the next phrase we need to debunk...
"Don’t Judge Me Because I Sin Differently Than You"
There are two key issue with this phrase: 1) To make it true, Jesus would have had to instruct His disciples to never hold one another accountable for sin, and that is the total opposite of what we have been instructed to do (Matthew 18:15-18; 1 Corinthians 5:1-6, James 5:16, Luke 17:3, Hebrews 3:12-13 and elsewhere). 2) It implies that one IS allowed to judge if their sins are the EXACT SAME as the person they are judging. This is also the total opposite of what Jesus instructed (Matthew 7:3-5).
In case anyone was unaware, Christians have most certainly been given the authority to judge one another (study all the scriptures noted in this section). But it is important to understand what “judging” truly means and what it should look like.
Many who utter “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you” also like to quote Matthew 7:1, “Judge not lest you be judged.” They use it in an attempt to shut down anyone who calls out and offers correction for their sin. But if we read Matthew 7:1 - 5, the full context of Jesus’ directive on judging in this scripture, we see that Jesus is warning us not to judge from a haughty spirit or a hypocritical stance. We are not to judge others to condemn them, but to lovingly correct them. We are to judge to restore one another to righteousness, and such judgement is gentle, respectful and filled with a desire to quickly forgive. If one heeds our correction, they remain among us. If they reject it and desire to remain in their sins, we are to separate from them and allow God alone to ultimately judge them (I Corinthians 5:11-13; 2 Corinthians 2:5-11). Such individuals are effectively excommunicated from the assembly of God’s people (the Church) and become part of the “world”, which God will judge not to restore but to condemn (Matthew 18:17; Matthew 25:31-46).
Considering we are all sinners, that is all the more reason we should desire to help one another stay on the right path - and this becomes especially important when our sins differ from another’s. The reason Jesus tells us to remove the plank from our own eyes before we attempt to address the speck in another’s is because it makes it challenging to attempt to lead someone when you are just as, if not more, blind than they are. How effective a leader or witness can one be if they are still committing the very same sin they have the audacity to try to correct you about? While it doesn't mean their admonishment isn't true, it does make it invalid. Trying to guide someone while even you are lost is fruitless. It holds no validity to the person you're trying to guide because you haven't proven yourself a worthy witness that overcoming that sin is even possible or worth it. The second you correct yourself, then you are qualified to correct others in that same area. And the hope is another might be more mature in an area in which you may still be weak so that they can guide you. We are to bear one another’s burdens and pray for one another to help us all remain blameless (Galatians 6:1-2). We are to sharpen one another (Proverbs 27:17). A phrase like “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you” not only makes absolutely no sense, it threatens our ability to grow together in Christ.
This concludes Part 1 of this series, and Part 2 is now up here for your reading pleasure. I have many other silly phrases to debunk so be sure to check back soon. You may also subscribe to be notified as soon as new posts are published.
Thank you for reading and don't forget to share your thoughts in the comments below!