The Old Testament clearly and repeatedly warns against adding to it contents: “You shall not add to the word which I command you…that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2); “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar” (Proverbs 30:5-6).
The Pharisees foolishly disregarded these somber warnings and added the word “only” to the second greatest commandment (cf. Matthew 22:39). In time, their teaching of “You shall love your neighbor only” logically evolved into the hideous belief you are to “love your neighbor and hate your enemy” (cf. Matthew 5:43).
Real spiritual dangers proliferate when God’s Word is added to. Note carefully how dangerous “only” really is:
- Unlawful additions to God’s Word only pollute and pervert the perfect law of liberty. In Jesus’ day, the addition of “only” contaminated the pure word of God. It still does. The same is true about Martin Luther’s addition of “only” in Romans 5:1.
- Unlawful additions to God’s Word only spawn more false teaching. The addition of “only” fathered the Pharisees’ teaching and belief that loving your neighbor was sinful. What a spiritual monstrosity! In like manner, Luther’s “faith only” lie has fathered several additional false doctrines.
- Unlawful additions to God’s Word only create spiritual “passovers”. To sustain their unscriptural teaching of hating your enemies, the Pharisees had to “passover” (i.e. ignore) other Bible passages. Does feeding a hungry enemy or giving him water to drink when thirsty (Proverbs 25:21-22), or not rejoicing when an enemy falls (Proverbs 24:17), or returning an enemy’s straying ox or donkey (Exodus 23:4), or helping a foe’s fallen and overburdened animal (Exodus 23:5) harmonize with the teaching of “hate your enemy”? Of course, it doesn’t; therefore, the only thing an enemy-hater can do to continue embracing his false doctrine is to avoid such contradictory passages. Likewise, a devout follower of Luther simply ignores the one place in the Bible where “faith only” legitimately occurs—”You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:24).
- Unlawful additions to God’s Word only create needless, foolish controversies. It is impossible to know how much time was spent among the Jews arguing the question of “Who is my neighbor?” (cf. Luke 10:29). This question is only important if “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy” is true. But it is false; therefore, all the arguments over “Who is my neighbor?” were needless.
Beware of the real dangers of “only”.
“Only” only causes trouble.