As sinful human beings, we love complicating life and weaving an intricate web of ideology, rules, viewpoints, positions, and standards, especially when it comes to religion and religious leaders. Countless men and women have tried to add or remove parts of the Bible to better fit their self-constructed idea of who God should be and how the Christian life should work. However, that strategy has never worked and just leads to deception and sin.
Therefore, as true and faithful followers of Jesus Christ, it is imperative that we stick with the Book and not stray from what has been given to us by God through His Spirit-breathed words in the Bible. While this truth and warning should be applied to all areas of the Christian life, Paul specific tells the Corinthians to stick with what the Book says in regards to a correct view of spiritual leaders.
“I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.”
~1 Corinthians 4:6
Throughout history, mankind has actively tried to add to or change God’s established order, plans, and divinely decreed commands. But God’s plans and ways are perfect and do not need adding to or modification. In fact, when we try to add God’s Word we not only sin against a holy God, but we also make life more difficult for ourselves.
This is why Paul exhorted the Corinthians “not to go beyond what is written.” They needed to stick with the truths of God’s Word and not add to those basic doctrines. And this exhortation is for us as well. The moment we start adding to what God has given, we not only are in danger of slipping into heresy, but we also cause division and strife within the church. Personal opinions and ideologies based on added doctrines or thoughts about God and His Word and not founded on clear truth will always create a dividing line of those who are in support or opposed. As Paul noted, this division can cause pride and polarization, two things that have no place in the redeemed church of Christ.
However, if we stick to the truths written in God’s Word and be ruthless about not allowing ourselves or others to add to the foundational doctrines, we will be able to attain and maintain the unity Jesus prayed that we would have. We have all been washed and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. We all share the same standing as adopted sons and daughters of the Most High God. And we have all been given the same gift of eternal life and calling to walk in a manner worthy of that priceless gift. Therefore, we should not allow division to tear us apart because we have not held fast to God’s Word and God’s Word alone.
So the question is: what things or ideas do you hold tightly to that may be causing division in your life and are not explicitly outlined in Scripture? Are there areas or convictions in your life that are incorrectly based because you have not stayed with what is written?
We are followers of Jesus Christ. The key word in that statement being follower. We are not the leaders, the founders, or the decision makers. We are followers. Therefore, we don’t have the privilege or position to pick or choose what we will follow, what we want to add or change, or what we deem is important. In order to truly and faithfully follow Christ, we must stick with what’s written in the Book. God has clearly outlined everything we need in His Word; therefore, we do not need to add, adjust, or modify what He has given us. Rather, we must follow and obey, being very careful to not go beyond what is written in it.
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