Beware Of Altering God’s Word
By Charles H. Spurgeon
Every motive that could move men to alter the Word of God has been fully stated 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 as instructive to the humble believer as it is humiliating to the modern man who critically cuts away portions of God’s Word.
The desire to alter the Word of God is dangerous. In the wilderness God Himself pointed this out: "Ye shall not add unto the Word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught 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 12:32 distinctly refers to this danger, and reasserts the warning: "What thing soever I command you…thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it."
The act of altering the Word of God is sinful. "Every word of God is pure…Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar" (Prov. 30:5-6). He who essays to improve upon it imputes error to the all-wise One. Only unholy minds could attempt it.
The desire to alter the Word of God is weakness. Jeremiah’s was a terrible message, and 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. 26:2). If God’s message is diminished, its power is lessened, and its results are consequently less certain. The authority, the power, the meaning, the terror of God’s truth must be preserved in all their fullness if God’s purposes are to be carried out.
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. "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:19-20).
Our Lord reproved this spirit in scathing and unmistakable language. Why is it His Words are forgotten? "Ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition... teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matt. 15:6-9). The Pharisaic spirit thus renders impossible obedience 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: "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 which are written in this book."
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 complete and full revelation. This is a crime of the present day: the Lord preserve us from it!