“You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” (Deuteronomy 4:2, NKJV)
These words of Moses to Israel reveal a principle stated time and again in the Bible, namely, that God demands that men and women respect and follow His word by not adding to it or taking from it (Deuteronomy 12:32; Joshua 1:7; Proverbs 30:5-6; 1 Corinthians 4:6; Galatians 1:8-9; Revelation 22:18-19). Just as it is disrespectful to put words into someone’s mouth that they did not say, it is disrespectful of God to say He approves and accepts that which takes from or adds to His word. Jesus scolded the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees for binding their religious traditions of people as if they were from God (Matthew 15:1-9). When we change the teachings of the Scriptures to suit our present desires, we are no different that they were, and we need the same rebuke. We too fall under condemnation when we reject the commandment of God to keep our traditions (Mark 7:9-13). All this comes down to how we choose to view the Bible. Is this collection of books merely the product of man’s mind and experiences? If so, then we are not bound to it by any heavenly authority. But, if the Bible was given by divine inspiration, then to change it shows great irreverence for God, who gave it (2 Timothy 3:16-17). How we view and use the Bible shows whether we respect God.
Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it. (Deuteronomy 12:32, NKJV)
God has consistently told mankind to carefully obey whatever He commands. Such vigilance is manifested by not adding to His commands and by not taking away from them. God’s word sufficiently explains the commands of God (2 Peter 1:3-4). Therefore, we do not need more revelation, creeds, confessions, councils, synods, or conferences to bind on us what These things have no such power. No document drafted and codified by men contains God’s power to free men and women from the commands of God. God has already commanded in His word. We live under the authority of Jesus Christ, and we must respect His word and obey it in all things. As the apostle said, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17). Therefore, let us “give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away” (Hebrews 2:1). Do not add to or take away from what God commands you through Jesus Christ, for “He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9).
30 “take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ 31 You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. 32 Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.” (Deuteronomy 12:30–32, NKJV)
Religious truth is not settled by going along with what other religious people do. Israel was strictly warned not to follow the abominable religious practices of the idolaters in the land of Canaan. To do so would have been tantamount to adding to or taking away from God’s word. Like Israel, we must not go beyond what is written to us by the apostles and prophets of Christ (1 Cor. 4:6). We must abide in the doctrine of Christ in order to be in fellowship with the Father and the Son (2 Jno. 9). Adopting the newest moral and religious norm will approve us to other people, but it will not approve us to God. When we are tempted to change your doctrine and practice to be like those around us, we must not yield, but say, “Do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. (2 Peter 1:5–7, NKJV)
The “very reason” upon which Peter builds his case for spiritual growth is the “great and precious promises” we have been given. Christians have heeded the gospel call to be “partakers of the divine nature” by escaping the corruption of sin that is in the world (2 Pet. 1:4). Our redemption in Christ is no reason to ignore spiritual growth. Indeed, it is the very reason we are to give all diligence to add to our faith qualities of the divine nature: virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. As our faith abounds in these traits of a strengthened faith, we become useful and fruitful in knowing Christ, and are given entrance into heaven (2 Pet. 1:8, 10-11). If we choose not to grow in faith, we lose our spiritual sight and forget our cleansing from past sins (2 Pet. 1:9). Thus, it may be said of heaven, if we will not grow, we will not go. Let us “be even more diligent” to make our calling and election sure by increasing our faith in the Lord (2 Pet. 1:10).