You Can't Do That!
Ned, Tillie and Warren were enjoying a game of Monopoly one evening. Now things weren’t going well for Warren. He had been able to buy only a few properties, and Ned and Tillie already had some houses on some of theirs. Warren’s money was dwindling. Then he landed on one of Tillie’s holdings with three houses.
“I can’t pay that much rent,” he growled.
“Well, you’ll have to mortgage, advised Tillie.
“Even that won’t be enough,” snapped Warren. “I guess I’ll rob the bank.”
“You can’t do that!” laughed Ned.
“Why not?” shot back Warren. “The rules don’t say I can’t” And with that he grabbed a handful of $100 dollar bills from the bank. Needless to say, the game rapidly deteriorated after that.
We smile at this little episode and heartily concur that Warren was not right in taking money from the bank even though the rules did not say that such a thing could not be done. All of the legitimate bank transactions were spelled out in the rules. With those being written, the illegitimate transactions did not have to be noted (which could, in fact, fill page upon page and become quite cumbersome).
This story illustrates one of the primary principles in the interpretation of Scripture. Sometimes God specifies what not to do. More often, He just tells us what to do. When the word teaches us to do something, it does not have to tell us all the things not to do.
For example, the Word teaches that the Lord’s Supper is observed using unleavened bread and the cup (fruit of the vine, wine). The Holy Spirit does not say: “Do not use donuts, melon slices or raisin cakes. Do not use milk, apple juice or iced tea.” What is specified is only what is authorized.
Our text warns us not to add to God’s word. We must exercise great diligence in rightly interpreting God’s word and not add anything to it thereby putting words in God’s mouth.