The Bible is full of wisdom sayings that give us the insight, knowledge and discernment to live disciplined and successful lives. God’s definition of wisdom and success is for us to do what is honourable, just, and fair. The world is also filled with pithy throw-away lines that sound like wisdom, but are ultimately, lies. They don’t lead us to God or spiritual blessings.
Proverbs 1:2-4 NLT Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair. These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young.
Many popular sayings may seem innocent enough, but they are often subtle perversions of God’s truths. Below are 20 common ones. How often have we said or believed one of these, without even realising we may be rejecting God’s Word and repeating some worldly spiritual lie?
1. “If it feels good, just do it.”
The truth is, whatever offers temporary fleshly pleasure may lead to permanent spiritual death.
Romans 8:5-6 ESV For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
2. “You don’t answer to anyone but yourself.”
The truth is, every believer or non-believer must answer to God one day. No one escapes God’s justice.
Romans 14:11-12 ESV for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
3. “No one is watching.”
The truth is, God is always watching us. Nothing is hidden from Him.
Hebrews 4:13 ESV And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
4. “Do whatever makes you happy.”
The truth is, we are to take pleasure in God and please Him first, and then we will get all our hearts’ desires and experience deep joy. Happiness outside of God’s design for the world is only fleeting.
Psalm 37:4 ESV Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5. “You only live once.”
The truth is, we have two lives, a physical life that ends with the death of our biological bodies and a spiritual life that lasts for eternity. What we do in our physical lives has great repercussions on our spiritual eternities.
John 8:51 ESV Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”
6. “In my next life, I will…”
The truth is, we vanish and don’t return to this old earth after we die, and there is nothing we can do to control the future.
James 4:14 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
7. “Everything is worth trying once.”
The truth is, Eve only tried eating the forbidden fruit once and that caused the downfall of mankind. It only takes one sin to give Satan a foothold in our lives.
Ephesians 4:27 ESV and give no opportunity to the devil.
8. “Make the best of whatever this world has to offer.”
The truth is, we are to make the most of our days based on God’s will for us, not what this corrupted world has to offer.
Ephesians 5:16-17 ESV making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
9. “You can achieve anything if you set your mind on it.”
The truth is, we can set our minds on many things that will eventually come to nothing, because they are not what is God’s will nor His purpose for our lives. But we can take heart that His ways are higher than our ways, and we can never achieve anything better than what He already has in store for us.
Proverbs 19:21 ESV Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
Isaiah 30:1 ESV “Ah, stubborn children,” declares the LORD, “who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin;
10. “Do whatever makes sense to you.”
The truth is, we are to inquire after the Lord, instead of relying only on what seems to make sense to us, because our wisdom can never compare with His and because we can trust in His great love for us.
1 Corinthians 1:25,27 ESV For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
11. “You can do anything as long as you don’t hurt anyone.”
The truth is, God gave us free will and we can do anything we want – but it may not benefit us. We may even bring spiritual death upon ourselves and unknowingly hurt the people around us.
1 Corinthians 10:23 NIV “I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive.
12. “Good luck!”
The truth is, there is no such thing as luck, destiny and fate in God’s Kingdom, only His will, protection and blessing. Let us honour God in everything we say and avoid anything He despises.
Isaiah 65:11-12 NLT … you have prepared feasts to honor the god of Fate and have offered mixed wine to the god of Destiny… For when I called, you did not answer. When I spoke, you did not listen. You deliberately sinned—before my very eyes— and chose to do what you know I despise.”
13. “Be happy, don’t worry.”
The truth is, true joy comes from knowing that nothing can separate us from God’s love, providence and promises. Striving to be happy on our strength without God may lead to temporary satisfaction but not to true joy.
Philippians 4:6-7 ESV do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
14. “Work hard, play hard.”
The truth is, God calls us to rest. He does not ask us to toil, struggle and serve our fleshly desires.
Psalm 46:10 NASB “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
15. “Seeing is believing.”
The truth is, God blesses everyone who has not seen Him and believes everything about Him and what He has said.
John 20:29 ESV Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
16. “Find yourself.”
The truth is, we need to find/seek God first and all the things that are meant to be ours will come our way. We find ourselves by finding God first.
Matthew 6:33 ESV But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
17. “Behind every great man, there’s a great woman.”
The truth is, behind every great human being is a great God, not another human being. God can also choose to make those who do evil things in this world powerful so as to achieve His ultimate plan.
Ephesians 2:10 ESV For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
18. “Always obey your parents.”
The truth is, we had to obey our parents when we were children, but as adults, we are to obey God first and then respect our parents.
Matthew 7:21 ESV “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
19. “Just kidding. Can’t you take a joke?”
The truth is, the Bible reminds us that our words have the power of life and death, and we become liars when we try to cover up something unpleasant we have said with a phrase such as “I am only joking!” What we try to pass off as a joke really comes from the desires or anxieties deep inside us that we refuse to address. We should be careful not to hurt others by our “jokes” and instead discern the emotions behind them and bring them to God.
Proverbs 26:18-19 ESV Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!”
20. “Sticks and bones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
The truth is, words can crush our spirits and leave marks on our spiritual psyche and identity. Just ask any biblical counsellor…
Proverbs 15:4 NIV The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.
These are just 20 common wisdom sayings. The world has thousands. What are our favourite worldly wisdom sayings and can we spot the lies in them? Let us grow in spiritual discernment and learn to identify how they distract or mislead us from God’s vision for us.
1 Corinthians 3:19 ESV For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,”