The Danger of Altering God’s Word

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Aubrey Johnson states, “It is no small matter, therefore, to modify a divinely established institution or practice” (Music Matters in the Lord’s Church, p. 58).  Johnson was addressing the attitude that some have towards the Word of God that they can modify it in order to suit them.  Consequently, they add to it or take away from it in order to support their views.
However, we cannot change what God has said and still be pleasing to God.  Mankind does not have the authority to alter God’s Word, yet, this is attempted almost daily.  There are false claims made by individuals who say that God spoke to them and gave them additional information different from God’s Word.  There are false teachers who alter the meaning of the words of the Bible and the grammatical context in order to make the Scriptures say what they want them to say rather than understanding what God meant by what God said.  Then, there are false Bibles that alter the very words of God in order to convey the doctrines that support a particular religious viewpoint.
God Has Protected His Word
God protects His word by expressing the severest penalties for altering it in any way.  The severest penalty is to be eternally damned.  Consider the following passages:
1.  Deut. 4:2, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.”
2.  Deut. 12:32, “What things soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.”
3.  Prov. 30:6, “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”
4.  Rev. 22:18-19, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things that are written in this book.”
God Empowers His Word
If we alter God’s Word, we render it powerless.  Unbelief results in condemnation, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”  The unbeliever is lost.  If we do not believe the truth, then we believe a lie and will be damned (II Thess. 2:10-12).  Altering God’s Word produces “lies” that cannot save.  God’s Word imparts life (John 6:63; James 1:18; I Pet. 1:21-23).  God’s Word saves (James 1:21).  If we alter God’s Word we change it and negate its spiritual power.
God Will Vindicate His Word
Paul states, “Let God be true and every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4).  God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:18).  His Word is infallible.  To alter God’s Word is to call God a liar.  Satan did this in Gen. 3:4 when he contradicted what God had plainly stated in Gen. 2:17.  Satan added one word–the word “not.”  The statement Satan made was a lie.  Eve believed the lie, while rejecting the truth, and sinned against God.  When we call God a liar, we blaspheme.
God vindicates His Word in life.  Paul writes, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7).  When we choose to disobey God in this life, we will suffer the consequences of our sin.  When we obey God, we shall receive a just reward.
God vindicates His Word in judgment.  Jesus taught in John 12:48, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”  This means that we must know the truth and not alter it in any way lest we be found to contradict God and fall under His condemnation.

The Danger of Deception

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Consider two important facts.  First, no liars will be in heaven (Rev. 21:8).  Second, no one who believes a lie to the exclusion of the truth will be in heaven (II Thess. 2:11-12).  Being deceived is not an excuse for disobeying God.  Herein lies the danger of deception.
The Deception Perpetrated By The Gibeonites.
The Gibeonites were among the Hivites who feared Israel at the beginning of the conquest of the land of Canaan by Joshua.  They disguised themselves in an elaborate way and pretended to be from a far country when, in fact, they lived in Canaan.  In Joshua 9:4-5, their elaborate disguise is recorded, “They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up; And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and mouldy.”  They were able to deceive Israel because of this disguise.  The disguise obscured the truth about their identity and so helped with the deception.  The men of Gibeon sought a treaty of peace with Israel in order to spare the lives of their people.  God commanded Moses to utterly destroy them (Deut. 7:1-3).  Joshua was supposed to carry out this command which was the result of the justice of God against these people due to their iniquity (Gen. 15:16).
The Deception’s Success
In Joshua 9:14, we are told why the deception succeeded.  “And the men took of their victuals and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD.”  You cannot discern a lie without knowing the truth. You cannot know the truth without consulting the word of God.  This neglect on the part of Joshua and Israel makes them culpable for believing the lie.  They are not innocent in this matter.
The Deception’s Danger
We are vulnerable to lies when we fail to consult God’s word.  If we believe a lie, we will transgress the commandment of God.  Joshua and Israel transgressed the commandment of the LORD and failed to carry out the justice God required against the Hivites.  The result is that they entered into a covenant with the Gibeonites that God forbade and this permitted them to live among the Israelites and influence them (Num. 33:55).  “But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.  Moreover it shall come to pass, that I shall do unto you, as I thought to do unto them.”  Israel’s disobedience led to their own eventual destruction.
A sure defense against believing a lie and being damned (II Thess. 2:11-12) is to love the truth and cleave unto it.  “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).