God’s Word is alive and powerful (Heb. 4:12). It is able to save us through the Gospel (2 Tim. 3:15, Rom. 1:16, 1 Cor. 15:1-4) and keep us saved by providing all that we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3, 2 Tim. 3:16-17). That power, however, is nullified when it is corrupted through adding to it or subtracting from it. This is why God so sternly warns against this practice. Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. (Deuteronomy 4:2 ,KJV, cf. Rev. 22:18-19).
Above we saw an example of when satan added to God’s Word in the statement Ye shall not surely die. Let us also examine some cases where he attempts to untie some of the not’s in God’s Word. Consider these words from James. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. (James 2:24, KJV, emp. mine p.e.p) James here is not talking about the works of the law nor works of merit, but rather works of faith. Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. (James 2:17, KJV) But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? (James 2:20, KJV)
Many have falsely asserted a contradiction between James’ words in chapter 2 of his epistle and the teaching of Paul in Romans chapter 4 and other places. There is no contradiction. Paul is talking about works of the law and James is talking about works of faith. A common refrain among the denominational preachers and their literature is salvation by faith only. By this they mean salvation by just a mental assent of faith in Christ apart from any obedience on the part of the believer. One is told to simply believe in their hearts and receive Christ as their personal savior. At this point they supposedly are saved. Such is contrary to plain teaching of scripture.
The Bible plainly teaches that we are not only commanded to believe in our hearts, but also to confess with our mouths (Rom. 10:9-10). Our hearts are to turn from sin to God in repentance (Luke 13:3, Acts 17:30-31). The penitent, confessing believer is then commanded to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ in order to receive remission of sins (Mark 16:15-16, Acts 2:38, 22:16). Obedience is essential for salvation. Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; (Hebrews 5:8-9, KJV, emp. mine p.e.p).
Consider the great hall of fame of the faithful, Hebrews chapter 11. As one makes only a casual perusal of that chapter he sees that faith was by no means stagnant but rather it was active and obedient. Abel offered a better sacrifice than Cain (v.4). Noah moved with fear and prepared the ark (v.7). Abraham left his country and his kin (v.8), by faith he offered Isaac (v.17). Moses chose to suffer affliction with the Hebrews rather than enjoy the luxurious living with the Egyptians (vv. 24-25). The children of Israel passed through the Red Sea dry shod (v.29). Time and time again we are shown examples of how those who were saved by their faith, demonstrated their faith in good works and obedience.
God’s Word shows plainly that the way to salvation is not through the dead and lifeless faith espoused by the denominations but rather through the obedience of faith (Rom. 16:26). Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. (James 2:24, KJV, emp. mine p.e.p) This is one of God’s “not’s” which cannot be untied.