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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
Every motive that could move men to alter the Word of God has been fully delineated in various portions of the Bible. It shows that God was aware from the first of the reception that would be given to His truth; and it is instructive to the humble believer as it is humiliating to the modern lover of pen-knife criticism.
1. The tendency to alter the Word of God is human. It is manifested in the first religious conversation on record. The divine voice had asserted, "Thou shalt not eat of it;" the human voice added, "neither shall ye touch it." The addition was the precursor of the fall.
2. The desire to alter the Word of God is dangerous. In the wilderness God Himself points this out: "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it (Deut. 4:2). The nations they were advancing to conquer had long cast aside their allegiance to their Maker, and the least tendency to question or alter God's Word might result in the same downfall for Israel. Deuteronomy 12:31-32 distinctly refers to this danger. and reasserts the warning, "Thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it." That idolatry does result from such daring rebellion is proved by the state of the Roman Catholic community today.
3. The act of altering the Word of God is sinful. "Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar" (Prov. 30:5-6). "Every word of God is pure;" and he who essays to improve upon it imputes error to the All-wise. Only unholy minds could attempt it.
4. The desire to alter the Word of God is weakness. Jeremiah's was a terrible message, and even he might yield to feelings of pity for his race; God saw this, and in words that could not be misunderstood, He said to the prophet, "Diminish not a word" (Jer. 24:2). If God's message is diminished, its power is lessened, and its results re consequently less certain. The authority, the power, the meaning, the terror of God's truth must be preserved in all their fullness for God's purposes are to be carried out.
5. The ambition to alter the Word of God is Pharisaic. To break the perfection of the law and teach our own alterations or additions as if they were of God is vile indeed (Matt. 5:19-20). Our Lord reproved this spirit in scathing and unmistakable language. Why is it His words are forgotten? "Ye have made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition," He says. "They teach for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matt. 20:6, 9). The Pharisaic spirit thus renders impossible obedience and loyalty to God as the supreme Teacher.
The craving to alter the Word of God is accursed. Revelation 22:18-19 should be read with fear and trembling. Is there not a reference to this tendency revealed in Paradise? What else is meant by the threatening, "God shall take away his part out of the book of life." Is not the offender's name to be taken away as Adam's was? Thus all down the ages God has warned men against this crime. He is a jealous God, and has determined to visit with the direct punishment all who dare to alter His completed and full revelation. This is the crime of the present day: the Lord preserve us from it!