The Danger of Adding or Subtracting (Part 3)

DELUSIONS, DETOURS, AND DEAD ENDS
By Jeannette Haley

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet,
and a light unto my path.” – Psalm 119:105

    One sure thing you can always depend on is the instructions for life’s journey contained in the Word of God. “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” Psalm 16:11. The Bible is both our spiritual road map and compass that reveals God’s plan for our lives. It instructs us as to the right path to follow, and warns of the many pitfalls we will encounter if we choose the wrong path. Its precepts are established truth, its judgments righteous, and its wisdom eternal.

    Jesus described the road we must travel when He said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” Matthew 13, 14. The first thing we learn from this verse is that before we start our journey, it is vital that we begin by entering in at the narrow gate, Jesus. He said, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” John 10:9.

    There are many people who travel on a highway that runs parallel to the narrow road. These people give the appearance of having started from the same point as those on the narrow road, and they look as if they are traveling in the same direction, on their way to the same destination. The problem is, they have never truly entered in through the narrow gate, and the road they are traveling on is the broad road of the flesh, the world, and the devil that ends in destruction.

    The question is how do so many well-meaning people end up on this pseudo-Christian road? After all, they believe there is a God, and that He loves everybody. They believe that Jesus came, performed miracles, and died on a cross. They believe that the Bible is the “good book,” and they even like to be part of the church scene where they can associate with others, and feel good about themselves. After all, there is some “good” in everybody, right? On top of that, they believe that when they die they will go to heaven, and live happily ever after.

     Nothing could be farther from the truth.

    The broad road is a composite of a variety of roads and paths that people choose to travel, but one of the most deceptive of those roads is the so-called “Christian” road that is paved out of delusion, detours, and dead ends that are the result of adding to, or subtracting from the truth of the Word of God because deep down many cannot, or will not, agree with the whole, entire and complete counsel of God. After all, there is a lot in the Bible that can easily upset our sensitivities and preconceived notions of how a “good” God should be doing things. There are whole passages of Scripture (including the words of Jesus) that are insulting, and downright offensive to our insidious pride and human sensitivities. Proof of that is evident all around us in the overabundance of the “seeker-sensitive” type of surface, shallow, imaginative and emotionally charged feel-good books, movies, sappy email junk, pictures, and sermons, along with many so-called “Christian” TV and radio personalities who do great damage to the “faith which was once delivered unto the saints” Jude 3b.

     A.W. Tozer, in his book, The Knowledge of the Holy (HarperCollins: San Francisco), 1961, p. 4, stated it well: “Wrong ideas about God are not only the fountain from which the polluted waters of idolatry flow; they are themselves idolatrous. The idolater simply imagines things about God and acts as if they were true. Perverted notions about God soon rot the religion in which they appear. The long career of Israel demonstrates this clearly enough, and the history of the Church confirms it. So necessary to the Church is a lofty concept of God that when that concept in any measure declines, the Church with her worship and her moral standards decline along with it. The first step down for any church is taken when it surrenders its high opinion of God. Before the Church goes into eclipse anywhere there must first be a corrupting of her simple basic theology. She simply gets a wrong answer to the question, ‘What is God like?’ and goes on from there. Though she may continue to cling to a sound nominal creed, her practical working creed has become false. The masses of her adherents come to believe that God is different from what He actually is, and that is heresy of the most insidious and deadly kind.”

      It is imperative, if we are to please God and dwell with Him for eternity, that we receive love for the truth, regardless of whether we understand it fully, agree with it completely, or like it at all. Remember, Jesus is the Truth. Truth is not something we can afford to flippantly toss around and take lightly, for without truth, we are doomed to perish. Without love for the truth, we can be easily tempted to love lies—especially lies about moral accountability within the Body of Christ. One little lie let into a church body, petted and pampered and protected will corrupt the entire body. “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” Galatians 5:8. We read in 1 Corinthians 5:6-9, “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” (See 1 Corinthians 5.)

     Without truth, we will never have the right perspective, the right heart attitudes, and the right motives. Without truth, we will lack wisdom, knowledge of God and His ways, and direction for our lives. Without truth, we will be forever shackled to the darkness of lies and deception, however subtle, and blind to the true Light of the world. Without truth, we will exist in a Christ-less void, forever chained by the darkness of hopelessness, fear, and the endless misery of separation from the Holy One who is the only Truth that sets men free.

   What does it mean to “receive love for the truth?” In 2 Thessalonians 2:10-14 we read “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish: because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” [Emphasis added.] So we see that, just like faith, love for truth is something we must “receive” from God. And, if we stiffen our necks, harden our hearts and refuse? Then God Himself will send us a delusion from which there is no escape. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” Hebrews 10:31.

     Years ago when on a road trip with a friend, we decided to turn off the freeway to take a two-lane highway to a waterfall. After traveling a long distance and not seeing any signs directing us to the waterfall, we began to wonder if we had missed another turn off. We kept going anyway in spite of seeing a sign that indicated we were heading in the wrong direction. I was so positive that we were heading in the right direction that I concluded the sign was wrong. Eventually we saw a sign with the name of a place that we recognized as having already passed before turning off the main freeway. Both of us were shocked when we realized that we had not only completely missed our intended destination, but we had backtracked about ten miles. This is how delusion works. We can convince ourselves that we know what is right, or best for us, even though the Bible plainly states differently.

      Who hasn’t encountered detours when on a road trip? Some detours are short while others seem like an endless interruption. After all, we just want to get to our destination in the most direct and uneventful manner possible. In the journey of life, however, detours are inevitable because of unforeseeable circumstances beyond our control. Sadly, we can also take ourselves on some spiritual detours that result in dead ends, and even disaster. Such detours occur because somewhere along the line we begin to ignore the warning “signs” in God’s Word. Instead of heeding the truths of Scripture concerning what our priorities should be, we allow the priorities of the world, or the dictates of our flesh to become detours. Even though we may intellectually know that such detours result in a dead end, we somehow convince ourselves that “God understands” or “God wants me to be happy” or “after I get what I want, then I’ll repent.” Of course, all of this is a perversion of what the Bible teaches, and is sin. That is the bottom line.

     The truth is the truth, and it will never change. What God has spoken is truth and His truth will stand for all eternity. However, we can “tweak” the Word of God, and delude ourselves when we override His truth by “adjusting” it to fit in with how we think it should be in our own minds. For example, we know that God is love. Therefore, if God is love and we go into rebellion, even though we’ve “accepted Jesus” or repeated a “sinner’s prayer,” and willfully sin and continue in it, then God, since He is love, should welcome us to heaven if we should die in that sin, right? Here is what the Word says: “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother” 1 John 3:6-10. And, 1 John 5:18 says, “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.”

     It is so easy to add to God’s Word by taking a truth, such as, for example, “God is love”, to extremes. We would do well to remember words of a wise Christian who once said, “Any truth, taken to extremes, becomes an untruth.” God’s love is a sacred truth that should be properly understood as revealed by the written Word, and revelation of the Holy Spirit. Any attempt at defining God’s love must be kept within the context of Who God is, His holy attributes, and remain consistent with how that love should be manifested in our personal lives and the church body in righteousness and holy living according to His Word. The tendency of fallen man, however, is to bring God’s love down to a base human level where it can be redefined, and adjusted to a “one size fits all” idea. This impression leaves God’s love reduced to what can be compared to a warm, fuzzy blanket of carnality that endorses and covers iniquity and sin, which in reality is not love at all but an excuse to dodge confrontation that leads to true repentance, conversion, and salvation for the lost soul. Fallen, finite man cannot even begin to grasp, even in his best state, the lofty magnitude, power and purity, beauty, and glory of the love of God apart from the cross of Christ.

      If you want to see God’s love, look back to the Cross, but consider this, “It is shallow nonsense to say that God forgives us because He is love. When we have been convicted of sin we will never say this again. The love of God means Calvary, and nothing less; the love of God is spelt on the Cross and nowhere else. The only ground on which God can forgive me is through the Cross of my Lord….Forgiveness means not merely that I am saved from hell and made right for heaven (no man would accept forgiveness on such a level); forgiveness means that I am forgiven into a recreated relationship, into identification with God in Christ. The miracle of Redemption is that God turns me, the unholy one, into the standard of Himself, the Holy One, by putting into me a new disposition, the disposition of Jesus Christ.” (Excerpted from My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers, pg. 324.

    Are you tired of taking detours, wandering around in confusion and wishing you could get off the “merry-go-round” of daily meaninglessness? If so, “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” Isaiah 55:6, 7. Jesus invites you to come to Him, saying, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” Matthew 11:29, 30.

      Will you do it now?