- “God helps those who help themselves.”
- “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”
- “Money is the root of all evil.”
Many assume these sayings are found in the Bible, but they’re not. Other clichés are used to excuse bad behavior or to relieve a guilty conscience.
- “Christians aren’t perfect just forgiven”
- “We’re all sinners.”
Religious clichés are not new.
Scripture corrects a number of them. The Corinthians justified sexual immorality with the saying, “food is for the stomach, and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them.”
They argued that the body was of no eternal and spiritual significance, therefore, immorality was acceptable. This misguided rationalization (based on Greek mythology) occasioned a corrective response from the Apostle Paul (cf. I Corinthians 6:12-20).
“God accepts us as we are.”
Here’s a cliché that could be misleading: “God accepts us as we are.”
Is this true?
According to Jesus, it depends on what you think you are. Jesus told a parable about certain people who “trusted in themselves that they were righteous and viewed others with contempt” (Luke 18). He referred to two men going up to the temple to pray — the one a Pharisee, the other a tax-gatherer (a despised person in first century Judaism).
The Pharisee began by thanking God that he was not like the sinners of society and then went on to recite his own notable virtues. The tax-gatherer stood at a distance with downcast eyes, pleading for God’s mercy and identifying himself as a sinner.
The one who acknowledged himself as a sinner was accepted before God and the self-righteous Pharisee found no approval with God. This parable reminds us that only those who see themselves as unworthy sinners in need of God’s mercy will be accepted by God. Human achievements cannot grant us favor with God. Only those who humbly acknowledge their complete unworthiness are granted acceptance with God.
Put another way, “what we are” is the problem.
All people have fallen short of God’s glory and need of His merciful salvation (Romans 3:23-24). The Bible says; “God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5-6).
The proud person lives as if God doesn’t matter. He foolishly believes that he can go on without dependence on the Creator. Perhaps he is self-sufficiently religious (as the Pharisee) or totally irreligious in his way of life. The issue is far deeper than external activities.
The broken and contrite of heart God will not despise (Ps. 51:17). Through the prophet Isaiah, God said: “To this person will I look (with favor,) to him who is humble and contrite of spirit and who trembles at my word” (Isa. 66:2).
Does God accept us as we are?
It depends on what you think you are?