David L. Odom
Romans 1:18-23; Galatians 5:2-7; Matthew 15:3-9
1. Today there are many different doctrines of religious teachings in the world, many claiming to be from Jesus Christ. But why is this so? The Bible clearly shows there is only ONE WAY to Heaven, which is called the 'NARROW WAY ', and few find it! Matthew 7:13, 14: “13 Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
2. We know that Satan is at work in deceiving the whole world to believe lies, instead of God's Truth, using false teachers to teach and preach error, so that mankind will not find God's narrow way, and be obedient and acceptable to Him: 2 Corinthians 11:13-15: “13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.”
3. But how does Satan accomplish this? How does he deceive mankind? I believe the answer is found in God's Word. Remember, we must not be ignorant of Satan's devices: 2 Corinthians 2:11: "that no advantage may be gained over us by Satan: for we are not ignorant of his devices."
4. Notice what happened in Genesis 3:1-7 when Satan tempted Eve to disobey God: "3 ...but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” "4 The serpent said to the woman, 'You surely will not die!'"
a. Satan mixed a half-truth into the picture to deceive Eve, in order to get her to sin (disobey God)! How? By reversing what God had said! But, in a sense, he was telling some truth; they would not, and did not die physically at that time, but did die 'spiritually', when they sinned: Romans: 5:12: "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned" Yes, physical death was passed to all men, BUT, as is shown here, spiritual death (separation from God) only comes when WE sin! There is no such thing as 'original sin' passed down to all human life, including infants! Infants are pure and sinless, and Jesus even used children to prove a point: Matthew 18:1-3: "At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, 'Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?' 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, 'Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.'"
(1.) Romans 5:12 is referring to 'spiritual' death, which takes place when we 'sin'! This death only passes to us WHEN WE SIN! Our sins are what separates us from our Creator, NOT anyone else's sins! God spoke of this in Ezekiel 18:4, 20: "4 Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die." "20: The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son's iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself."
5. This is what Satan is doing today! He mixes error with Truth to deceive us to believe lies, for when we mix any man made teaching (doctrine) with God's Inspired Word, it becomes 'WASTED KNOWLEDGE FROM GOD ', because we have 'added' to it, and/or 'taken away' from it! WHEN we change the meaning that God has intended, then we are 'adding to, and/or taking away from God's Word!:
Deuteronomy 4:2: "You shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish from it, that you may keep the commandments of Jehovah your God which I command you..”
Proverbs 30:6: "Do not add to His words or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar."
Revelation 22:18, 19: "18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book."
Galatians 1:6-9: "6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort (pervert) the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!"
2 John 1:9-11: "9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; 11 for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds."
I Corinthians 4:6: "Now these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes; that in us you might learn not to go beyond the things which are written; that no one of you be puffed up for the one against the other."
I Peter 4:11: "if any man speak, speaking as it were oracles (utterances, very words) of God..."
6. One prominent Example of changing God's Word to teach error today is the 'FAITH ONLY' doctrine:
a. We usually hear of this false teaching connected with the 'sinner's prayer', of which you cannot find in God's Word!
(1). Many quote Ephesians 2:8-10: "8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."
(2). But when you study ALL that God teaches in His Word, you find that all that God tells us to do, are works He has authorized us to do: John 6:28, 29: "28 Therefore they said to Him, 'What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?' 29 Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.'”
(3). Thus, we read passages of Scripture telling us to WORK: I Corinthians 15:58: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord."
Philippians 2:12, 13: "12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure," God works in us, ONLY AS WE APPLY His Word to our lives! Notice carefully that WE are the ones who must 'will' and 'work' for His good pleasure!
(4). The 'Faith Only' doctrine is FALSE, and will not be accepted in the Day of Judgment, because it comes from MAN, not God!
James 2:14-26: "14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18 But someone may well say, 'You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.' 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father JUSTIFIED BY WORKS WHEN he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, 'And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.', and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is JUSTIFIED BY WORKS and not by FAITH ONLY. 25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD."
John Calvin, wanted to cut the book of James out of canon, because of his false teaching of 'faith only'(t.u.l.i.p. - Calvinism), all of which is false, mixing doctrines and commandments of men in with God's Word! Romans 4 is NOT dealing with 'works verses faith only', but with works of God, as Abraham did, BEFORE the Law of Moses even came into being! So it is with us today, we are NOT UNDER THE LAW OF MOSES, but are STILL under Law from God, the New Covenant, the New Testament, of which we will be judged in the last day, according to our works:
Romans 8:1, 2: "1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death."
I Corinthians 9:21: "to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law."
Galatians 6:2: "Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ."
James 1:25: "But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does."
James 2:8-12: "8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point , he has become guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not commit murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty." (Yes, all of the Ten Commandments are found in the New Covenant, the New Testament, except ONE: "Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy" is NOT found in the Law of Christ for us today.)
James 2:8-12 was written to Christians, and we also understand that the Law of Moses was nailed to the cross of Jesus Christ:
Colossians 2:8-17: "8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. 9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; 11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. 16 Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ."
Hebrews 7:11-16: "11 Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron? 12 For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also. 13 For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests. 15 And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life."
Hebrews 10:9, 10: "9 then He said, 'Behold, I have come to do Your will.' He takes away the first in order to establish the second. 10 By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
But man tells us today that we cannot understand the Bible alike! NOT SO! Please read Ephesians 3:3, 4: "3 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. 4 By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,"
Yes, we CAN understand the Scriptures from God the way He wants us to understand them, and thus we can understand them as the apostle Paul did! BUT, in order to do this we cannot, must not, 'add to', or 'take away' from God's Inspired Word, which includes mixing in doctrines and commandments of men that change the meaning of God's Inspired word!
I trust that you can more clearly see that when man changes the teaching of God to fit his own desires, he wastes the knowledge of God which he has, and therefore, that he cannot be a 'true worshiper' of God: John 4:23, 24: “23 But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Man then becomes a 'vain worshiper': Matthew 15:8, 9: "8 This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 9 but in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrine the commandments of men."
Man may be worshiping God in 'will worship': Colossians 2:20-23: "20 If ye died with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, do ye subject yourselves to ordinances, 21 Handle not, nor taste, nor touch 22 (all which things are to perish with the using), after the precepts and doctrines of men? 23 Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship, and humility, and severity to the body; but are not of any value against the indulgence of the flesh."
Man may be worshiping God 'ignorantly': Acts 17:23: "For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you."
So, if we are mixing in any teachings of men with the inspired Word of God, then we are wasting the knowledge of God, and will not be accepted in the Day of Judgment!
Please study this material closely: The churches of Christ (non-institutional)