Jesus said, "If you abide in my teaching, then you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free" (John 8:31-32). We are urged in scripture not to go beyond (but to abide in) what is written. We do this so that our faith may be true.
Cain (Adam's first son) offered vegetables as a sacrifice to God. He did not seek to observe the proper sacrifice. He offered a sacrifice of his own devising (Genesis 4:1-7).
Apparently Abel (Cain’s brother) offered his sacrifice according to the word of God. Abel acted by faith, not by feeling. He acted upon hearing the word of God "By faith Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain" (Hebrews 11:4), and "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).
Abel did not go beyond the word of God. Cain did go beyond, and that's why God frowned upon him.
Nadab and Abihu (sons of Aaron) made a fatal, tragic mistake. They were worshipping God, and God struck them dead. What did they do wrong?
"Each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered strange fire before the LORD which he had not commanded them. So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD " (Leviticus 10:1-2).
Nadab and Abihu offered to God something profane, something not sanctified or made holy, something ordinary and unconsecrated. Nadab and Abihu should have waited for a command from God.
Nadab and Abihu should not have run ahead of God. They should have waited until God told them to use fire from the altar —fire sent from heaven. They went beyond the word of the LORD.
Even if Nadab and Abihu had thought to take fire from the altar, they would have been wrong to act upon their guess. They should have been afraid to do anything but seek and await the word of the LORD.
The wandering Israelites alarmed Balak, king of Moab when they camped in Moab. So Balak summoned Balaam, a diviner in Moab, to put a curse upon the Israelites. However, Balaam refused to pronounce anything more than God said.
The king pressed Balaam to ask of God again and again, but God told Balaam to bless, and bless he did.
Balaam repeated the blessing faithfully, defying the king. His attitude was, "I could not go beyond the word of the LORD my God to do less or more... I must be careful to speak what the LORD puts in my mouth." (Numbers 22:18, 23:12).
Later, God permitted Balaam to go with the king's men to survey the Israelite camp. But he told Balaam to wait for the men to come for him. However, Balaam was anxious to get his diviner's fee. So he got up early and went to them. God was angry because Balaam did not abide in God's word, going beyond and against what God had spoken.
David suggested to the Israelites that the ark of the covenant should be brought from Abinidab’s house to “the City of David” (Jerusalem). "The proposal was right in the eyes of all the people" (1Chronicles 13:3-4).
However, "they carried the ark of God on a new cart" (1Chronicles 13:7). This is how the Philistines had transported the ark on the advice of their priests. It was not what God commanded.
Along the way, "Uzza put out his hand to steady the ark because the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against Uzza, and God struck him... and he died there before God" (1Chronicles 13:9-10).
The law of Moses said there were to be poles put through rings on the ark. By these poles the priests could carry the ark without touching the ark itself. It went beyond God’s authority to use a cart instead (Exodus 25:10-15).
At the next attempt to move the ark, David said that. on the first attempt, "The LORD our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the due order." (1Chronicles 15:11-14)
The examples above are in the Old Testament. Does the New Testament of our time require the same "Don't go beyond" principle? Or is it more relaxed?
At the beginning of this lesson we quoted Jesus the Mediator of the new testament. He said, "If you abide in my teaching, then you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free" (John 8:31-32). Our freedom is not to go beyond the word of truth, but to find our release from sin within, and not beyond, the truth Jesus has revealed.
Paul says, "...learn in us not to think beyond what is written... " (1Corinthians 4:6) "Continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope of the gospel that you heard" (Colossians 1:23).
John says, "Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son." (2John 1:9 ESV).