“You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”-Deuteronomy 4:2
One statement that I heard often growing up was, “Do not add or take away from the Bible.” You are probably familiar with this statement too. This exhortation is given in a number of passages in the Scriptures, and the one I want to mention is the above passage of Deuteronomy 4:2. In the first couple of chapters of Deuteronomy, Moses recounts for the people of Israel some of the events that had taken place since the Lord had led them out of Egypt. Moses reminds the people of the event that resulted in their wandering in the wilderness for forty years; specifically, their rebellion at Kadesh-Barnea. Israel had come into the hill country of the Amorites, and Moses sent one man from each of the tribes to spy out the land. We remember that the men came back giving a bad report and would not go up and take the land. As a result of their unfaithfulness, the Lord swore that that generation would not enter His rest.
Moses goes on to recount how the Lord had given them (the Second Generation) victory over the Amorites. The second generation trusted the word of the Lord that He would give them victory over their enemies, and, indeed, the Lord did. Israel conquered Sihon and Og, the Amorite kings, and inherited their lands. Moses also reminded the children of Israel of the circumstances that kept Moses himself from entering the Promised Land. All of these events were examples to Israel urging them to keep and do the statutes and judgments of the Lord. The lesson given was unbelief leads to severe consequences, while obedience leads to blessings and victories over their enemies.
It is toward the end of Moses first address to Israel (1:6-4:40) that we read the warning of not adding or taking away from the words that he had given them. This warning was not to be taken lightly, just as it is not to be taken lightly for us in our day. The Lord had given His word through Moses as He intended it to be given; therefore, to add or take away from it was to indirectly say that it wasn’t good enough as it was, or that it contained rules that were too restrictive. This warning was such that none could manipulate the words of the Lord, water them down, or altogether ignore them. Doing any of the above was to be unfaithful to the Lord. He is who He is and His word is at He intended it. John MacArthur made the statement, “You have no right not to say what God did say, and no right to say what God did not say. You have to get it right.”
In our day we see abuses to the Scriptures and it is of great importance that we be reminded of Moses’ warning ourselves. We have those on the Charismatic Word of Faith side such as Osteen, Meyer, Hagin, Copeland, Hinn, and many others who manipulate the Scriptures for their aberrant teachings. On the other side, we have the Legalists who impose more rules and regulations that are not given in the Scriptures. Then, we have some in the middle who altogether ignore the difficult doctrines or passages for fear of offending someone. Friends, all three of these demonstrate a lack of trust in God. God made no provisions for us to pick and choose, or manipulate and diminish anything in His word. All the difficult sayings and passages were written, not by the will of man, but through men who were moved by the Spirit of God to write!
We have to take a moment to ask ourselves, “Do I trust God?” Beloved, if we do, indeed, trust God, then we must trust that His word will not return to Him void but will accomplish what He sends it forth to do. Preach and teach the Word of God with authority and with clarity, and leave the results with God. God blesses faithfulness, and chastises those who are unfaithful, especially, those unfaithful to His word. Proverbs 30:6, “Do not add to His words or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar.”
Joshua Banks is senior pastor and founder of Shepherd’s Rock Bible
Church in Kingsport, TN. He holds a Bachelors degree in Ministry from
Luther Rice University, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, and a
Master of Divinity both from Liberty University. Joshua and his wife
Amanda, along with their 5 children, reside in Gate City, VA.