Many of the world’s beaches look romantically beautiful at sunset and by moonlight. As the sun dips into the sea, a gorgeous streak of apricot light comes through the turquoise and green of water to one’s feet. The moon crosses darkening water in a silver path and lights up the white froth of waves, lending enchantment to the rough twists of cedar (I am thinking of Italy, where I recently went on vacation) or, elsewhere in the world, to the fronds of palms moving in the breeze. Nothing seems to have changed for centuries; one seems to be witnessing the breathtaking pure beauty of creation.

Ah, but … when night changes to day, the pollution of plastic mingled with oil emptied in midsea shows up in ugly drifts at the edge of the waves. The lovely sand is mixed with sticky blobs of greasy tar; fingers get soiled with brown-black smears as one picks up bits of leaf or stone to try to scrape away the offending gummy wads on one’s feet.

Pollution! Pollution marring the beauties of sight and smell, besmirching bodies that in past days could freely run, lie, and be buried up to the neck in this same sand. Pollution spoiling a certain kind of pleasure and freedom. Pollution changing and limiting the fulfillment of a day at the beach.

This sort of pollution, this ugliness, is bad enough, especially when it spoils a long awaited vacation; but it is less serious than other kinds.

Polluted air can be a gradual thing. As one day follows another with barely noticeable change, whole cities full of people can be breathing a certain amount of poison. Some people may become ill, and others may even die from resultant lung problems.

Polluted air and food and drinking water can be deceptive; the person who takes them into his body may not recognize that they are poisonous. The illnesses that result from polluted food and water can cause death.

But there is a pollution far more dismaying than the pollution of beaches and oceans, and more to be feared than polluted air, dangerous drinking water, poisoned food. The extreme results of shorter life spans and the death of fish, animals, and people are not the most disastrous results of pollution.

The most dangerous pollution of all is the pollution of truth, of the absolute Word of God, the Bible. The music and the light through the stained glass seem the same. Phrases seem the same. Only a little is removed—a word here, a shade of meaning there. This portion is seen as a myth or parable. That portion is set aside as unimportant or questionable. The early part of Genesis is treated with a shrug. Areas of the Bible that deal with history and science are no longer taught as true. “Infallibility” is a word that becomes an embarrassment.

Satan whispers “Hath God said?” over and over again in different tones of voice, and with fresh sneers as he speaks not through a serpent but through pastors, professors, teachers who lend themselves to Satan’s twisting of the Word of God. Satan twisted God’s Word to Adam and Eve. “Hath God said? God hath not said.… Ye shall surely not die.” And as Satan polluted the verbalized spoken teaching of God to the first man and woman, so he has continued to pollute the written Word, the Bible, from one moment of history to another.

In this moment of heightened concern over pollution of other created things, we need to be aware that the purity of the teaching of the Bible is the most important purity of all. Poisoned translations, poisoned teaching, poisoned writing, poisoned preaching, poisoned commentaries, poisoned Sun-day-school lessons: people are taking in polluted spiritual air, food, and water. This is the most dangerous pollution of all.

Matthew 10:28 gives us Jesus’ strong warning: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

God carefully warns us that there is danger in tampering with his Word. In the final chapter of the Bible there is a warning against adding anything to God’s book, and against taking anything away from the words of this prophecy. In Second Peter at the end of the first chapter we are told that Scripture is “a more sure word of prophecy” than even the audible voice these men heard with their ears, and we are warned to “take heed as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” We are told that the Bible is the light that shows us, in the midst of the darkness of men’s words, what truth is, and that the Word of God judges, gives light. We are told that God has spoken, and we are meant to have his Word in a pure form.

John 20:31 states forcefully, “These are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” The result of knowing not only the Gospel of John but the complete Bible is having sufficient knowledge and understanding to believe truth is true, and acting upon that belief to have life through Jesus Christ. This One is the Bread of Life, and the Water of Life. He is to be our atmosphere as we live in his presence. How? We are told that by abiding in him, and having his word abide in us, we are prepared to be in his presence, ready for communication. Jesus prays in John 17:7, “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth,” as he intercedes for us. And the warnings are clear that false prophets, unfaithful shepherds, pastors who “scatter my flock,” are to be avoided, and not allowed to pollute the direct Word of God to us.

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The Word of God is pure, unchanging. But there has been no time in history when someone has not been deceived by Satan and then stepped into the place of trying to pollute God’s word for others so that they would be destroyed unawares.

Beware of the pollution of the Bible in any form. Don’t let this glucky black waste-oil spoil the beauty of your walk with the Lord.

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