Over the past several decades, the world around us has experienced an upswing in what is referred to as “health consciousness.” Many people are concerned about purchasing clothing, cosmetics, and cleaning products that are “100% natural.” Foods for the health-conscious carry labels assuring us that they contain no artificial additives.
When it comes to the material realm, the relative benefits or perils of additives are perhaps debatable. But when it comes to God’s Word, the disastrous effect of “additives” is clearly addressed in the Scriptures.
Psalm 12: 6, 7
The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
God’s words are pure. He will keep and preserve them. But the minute we begin adding to those words, even with the best of human motives, those words cease being the Word of God.
The churches of Galatia had been taught such pure words. They were instructed in the truths regarding the righteousness of Christ. They knew that this righteousness could never be attained by the works of man, but that, through the grace of God, men and women could become righteous by faith alone.
However, certain individuals in Galatia began adding to this doctrine. In effect, they stated, “Yes, of course faith is all one needs… technically. BUT if you really want to attain the highest levels of righteousness, the real pinnacle of acceptability before God, we have some works to suggest…” And although the nature of the specific works may vary, many in the church are suggesting these same things today.
Did Paul refer to this teaching as an “alternative view?” Did he refer to its proponents as “innovators?” No. By revelation Paul stated that this “gospel” was of an entirely different kind than the gospel of Jesus Christ [Galatians 1:6, 7] and that any who taught it should be accursed [Galatians 1:8, 9]. His words to those who had been seduced by it were no less pointed.
Galatians 3: 1–3
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
The church at Colossae was in a similar predicament. They had been taught not only about the believer’s righteousness, but also further truths regarding our joint-membership in the body of Christ. They knew the privileges, responsibilities, and interrelationship of the members, and the total dependence of all those members upon the head, Christ Jesus. They had come to understand that Christ is the only source for the growth, direction, nourishment, and filling of the body, and the only source needed.Christ alone.
Yet some in Colossae began declaring that, though Christ was indeed the head, ALL fullness could not be found in him. Some blessings and some benefits, they suggested, lay outside of Christ and could only be attained by the energy and initiative of the individual members. Again, by revelation, Paul responded.
Colossians 2:6, 7
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete [fully filled] in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
The above records could have been written this morning. So many Christians today are set on finding some added righteousness, though complete righteousness is theirs by faith alone; so many are seeking outside of Christ and his body for a fullness that, in truth, does not need to be grabbed, but only acknowledged (See Ephesians 3:16–19). And sadly, whether through deliberate deceit or through misplaced “compassion,” many teachers foster and maintain this lie by adulterating the Word of God. But ultimately, “faith plus…” is no longer “faith alone,” and “Christ plus…” is no longer “Christ alone.”
We would do well to remember that this practice was begun not in our day, or even in the first century, but in the Garden, when our adversary, the devil, before daring to blatantly contradict God’s words, subtly encouraged Eve to modify them. And the results, to say the least, were disastrous.
God’s Word is perfect. As it stands, it is faithful and dependable. We cannot improve upon it; we need do nothing but read and believe it. As fallible humans we will occasionally disagree on some of the details, but if we walk in love towards each other, such differences need not be divisive. Still the overall message of the Scriptures regarding man’s state and God’s provision, Christ’s work and the blessings it affords us, remains both clear and essential for all things that pertain to life and godliness. And though we may at times fall short experientially, we must never lower God’s Word to the level of our feelings, our experiences, our human logic, or our personal unbelief.
The words of God are pure words–no artificial additives needed.