Robert Wurtz II
Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:1–4 ESV)
Paul refused to interpret the scriptures like modern liberals interpret the US Constitution — as if it were a living document. The world defines living document (dynamic document) as a document that is continually edited and updated. Since the wording of the Constitution requires amendments to change the easier thing is to alter the interpretation. Liberals typically want an interpretation that shifts over time as the culture changes. On the other hand, originalism seeks to understand and interpret the Constitution based on the original intent and meaning of the Framers. This was similar to Paul’s approach to the scriptures. He refused to tamper with God’s word.
Paul’s approach is effective because it agrees with man’s conscience. The Law of God has been written in the hearts of men from birth. The conscience enforces that Law. When God’s word is preached it resonates in the hearts of men like the proper sound resonates with the corresponding frequency of a tuning fork. He writes, “We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” A person’s evil heart may rebel and even make snide remarks about God’s word, but their conscience agrees with it. This is why old-time preachers spoke of preaching to the conscience. It is designed to agree with God. So preach the word because you have a “friend” (the conscience) living inside everyone who hears — sort of like God’s own “amen corner.” If a minister tampers with God’s word the conscience will warn the hearers accordingly.
The Living Word of God
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:12–13 ESV)
The way the world makes a dead document a “living” one is to constantly update it or reinterpret it so as to fit the immoral whims of the people. Contrarywise, God’s word is a living document that is forever settled in heaven. It cannot be amended. It is “living” in the sense that it carries within itself the grace (power) to accomplish what God has sent it to do. it has the power to expose utterly peoples’ motives and will be the measuring rod of all people at the Great Judgment. Jesus said, Heaven and earth will pass away, but my word will never pass away.
Notice how Paul characterizes the practice of tampering with God’s word… calling it disgraceful and underhanded. In modern times we deal with professing Christians who adulterate God’s word as did the crooks of ancient times debase gold and dilute wine. Snark artists lie in wait to mock God, His word, and the messengers who would preach it undiluted. Sifting through the message for anything they can find to discredit or dismiss it all together. God is hip to their ways just as Paul was unmoved by such disgraceful antics. He would preach the word to people until nobodies blood was on his hands… no matter how many assaults or insults he endured (physical, verbal, or any other means). Both Jew and Gentile tried to kill Paul because he preached the truth undiluted.
False Professors of Christ
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1 ESV)
Peter is warning us. Understand that no-one is a Christian who does not agree with God and His word no matter what they profess. In fact, these people are dangerous! I have often said that the threat of the future for genuine Christians will be false Christians. I expect to see false Christians begin persecuting true Christians in the very near future. We would see it already if true Christians were more outspoken about God’s word. False Christians are people who actually believe they are Christians and believe they have received His Spirit — but are in fact agents of the enemy. Just as the sinful false prophets of old told the Israelites lies — there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. They agree with the world rather than God on a host of topics and berate ministers who actually preach the truth. When these false believers preach or teach — it’s debased gold and diluted wine. Always bear that in mind.
How Can This Be?
When people refuse to agree with God they are playing into the hands of Satan. Paul continues his thoughts, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:1–4 ESV) The “god of the world” is clearly Satan. He is blinding multitudes of people still today. However, Paul was commissioned of Christ to open the eyes of those who were in darkness. That is to say, to undo the blinding effects of Satan and his lies. This would have been impossible to do if he had tampered with God’s word.
Paul was forever having to deal with deceived people who corrupted the Gospel. This was true all the way to the end. They were deceiving and being deceived. We read in 2 Timothy about Alexander the Coppersmith. Here is a man who did Paul, “Much evil” by preaching falsehood about topics like the resurrection. For that, Paul turned him over to Satan that he would learn, “not to blaspheme.” After that and all other measures failed, Paul said that God would reward him according to his works. No matter what Paul did to bring this man to repentance — nothing worked. He was blind and he blinded others with his errors. He was a “debaser of gold” and a “diluter of wine” as it were. He tampered with God’s word and as best as we know is paying for his crime with his everlasting soul.