In Deuteronomy 12:29-32, just as they are about to cross into the promised land, God tells the Israelites, “When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.' You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.” In other words, when you come into the promised land, don’t look to the inhabitants of the land or the surrounding nation to borrow from them as to how to worship God. God had clearly prescribed in scripture exactly how he is to be approached and worshipped. Still, the Israelites fell into this trap. It was not long before they began to engage in syncretism (the blending of Jewish and pagan religious practices). This ultimately led to their demise. Sadly, God’s people are slow learners. Today many churches borrow from the business world to determine how best to reach people, keep people, and minster to them. Yet, what God states in Deuteronomy, “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it,” we find echoed in the New Testament as well. Paul writes to the church in Corinth, “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” (1 Cor. 4:6). We would be wise to not go beyond what God has written in his word.
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