Verse of the Day Devotion: Deuteronomy 4:2
“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
We as Christians are called to keep the commandments of God. And it is to be done not because we feel we have to in order to be righteousness, but because we love Him. Jesus told His disciples the following, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15. And again, “You are My friends if you do what I command you.” John 15:14. Notice, if we love Him and are His friends, then we are to keep His commandments.
Many obey the parts they want to obey and ignore the rest, or they add to His commands. According to our focus verse, we must be careful that we only teach what is actually His commands, and do not add anything that He did not say. Let us look at these a little deeper. Both actions, adding to or taking away, can be done out of ignorance. This is the reason we are to study His word and completely understand what He is saying. Paul said it this way in his letter to Timothy. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15. Along with reading His word, it is important that we spend time studying it as well. We must understand what He is commanding before we can fully obey Him.
First, we will look at adding to His word. This happens a lot when we begin to merge our past teachings, either from our times when we did not follow God, or when we add to His words that which we followed from a previous religion. There are many cults out there that claim to follow Jesus but actually serve another God. When I was in the Air Force, I unknowingly became involved in a cult that said we are not to read the Bible with understanding, but to pray read it, and rely on the leader of our particular church to explain any meanings in scripture. I did not fall for it, but I was concerned about those in the cult. Fortunately, I went to a great church and knew many strong Christians. Other problem teachings which are additions to His word are confessing our sins to another so we may receive forgiveness and the idea that the LGTBQ lifestyle is acceptable to God. God loves everyone but still requires from us all to obey the commands that He gave to us.
Also, we must not remove things from His commands. In the word faith movement, they teach that if you pray for something and have faith He will give it to you, then He absolutely will. However, James counters this. “You lust and do not have; so, you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.” James 4:2. Notice the last part of this verse, ‘You do not have because you do not ask.’ This is often the verse they quote. However, they do not go any further. The next verse counters their belief. “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” James 4:3. Having attended several word faith services, I have heard them quote verse too many times, but not verse three. When you leave off the second verse, you are teaching a falsity. You are leading people in a direction God never intended. The above are a few examples of adding and taking away but are by no means the only ones. We must be careful that we do not add things to His word or take away things. When we do either one of them, we are not fully teaching His word for we are changing what His word is communicating to us. We end up leading people in a wrong direction. We must be very careful that we earnestly study His word and know what it says and what it does not say. We may be asked to speak a message or help someone understand some passages. We need to make sure we tell them exactly what His word says. We do not want to lead anyone astray with what we communicate.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.