In this message, let's look into the Scriptures and see just how it is happening today.
1. Pervert The Gospel - By Opposing Holiness
Acts 13:10 says - "...wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?"
The "right ways of the Lord" represented the "straight" or "narrow" teachings or doctrines of Christianity. To "pervert" them would have been to oppose them or to lead others astray so as not to keep them.
There are those today who are presenting the Law - the moral Law - as being unreasonable and impractical. They misrepresent the basic teachings behind Christianity as well as criticize, mock, and ridicule any who would attempt to adhere to a "word" of holiness or one that advocates 100% victory over sin in thought, word, and deed. They have wandered from the truth and seek to lead any and all astray from it.
2. Pervert The Gospel - By Distorting The Truth In Order to Draw a Following
Acts 20:30 says - "Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them."
These are the ones in our very midst who are influenced by ambition or by a love of money, power, and popularity. They are usually well thought of and respected by all. Resultantly, they are proud, conceited, and greatly opinionated.
On a closer examination, one can see that they are imposters who are only interested in repudiating, twisting, or ignoring the truth in order to draw a crowd. They will do anything - just so that they can have the attention of the people. Their "word" creates confusion, distraction, and division amidst the assembly.
3. Pervert The Gospel - By Creating One That Accommodates A Sinful Lifestyle
Galatians 1:7 says - "Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ."
In the Galatian Church, there were those who were seeking to overturn the "Gospel of Grace" with one that commanded the performing of rites and ceremonies in order to be in right standing with the Lord.
Nowadays, we have those in the church who are seeking to twist and modify the "Message of Grace" into one that excuses or allows for sin in the believer's life on a daily basis.
4. Pervert The Gospel - By Twisting The Words of God and Inventing A New Message
Jeremiah 23:36 says - "And the burden of the LORD shall ye mention no more: for every man's word shall be his burden; for ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the LORD of hosts our God."
The people in Jeremiah's day were weary of the "word of rebuke" which they so desperately needed because they were a backslidden people. They began to refer to the "words of the living God" as a tiresome "burden" which weighed them down instead of uplifted them or as a "curse" instead of a "blessing." They mocked and ridiculed the messenger delivering the "word of the Lord." Prophets of their own choosing were raised up to invent "messages of God" which were more appealing to their fleshly or carnal lifestyle.
5. Pervert The Gospel - Through False Leadership
Matthew 23:13 says - "But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye nether go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in."
The "scribes and Pharisees" were the religious leaders of Jesus' day who were recognized by the people for their interpretation of the Scriptures. They "sat in Moses' seat" (Matthew 23:2) and claimed to have the "key of knowledge." Rightfully so, they should have opened up the Scriptures - which pointed to Jesus as the Messiah - and been the first to respond to Him for salvation. Instead, they quarreled with His doctrine and confronted Him on every side for His miracles. They did all that they could to keep people from believing in Him and becoming His followers.
Even though they wore the "religious garb" - symbolizing holiness of living and separation from the world - they were far from being that. They were hypocrites in the worst way - appearing to be spiritual and godly - yet all the time being unrighteous. They pretended to be interested in the people, but the truth of the matter was that they were only interested in their own selves - their honors, titles, popularity, and importance.
6. Pervert The Gospel - By Hindering Others From Coming To Christ
Luke 11:52 says - "Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered."
The "lawyers" were the experts in religious matters, yet they hid the truth from the people. Their duty was to enlighten the people by explaining the law to them. Instead, they interpreted the Scriptures in an erroneous way - replacing them with the traditions of men. Rather than bring the people closer to God by rightly dividing the word for them, they prevented them from entering into the kingdom.
We close with a quote from The Full Life Study Bible, page 412, which summarizes our argument -
"The gospel is defined and revealed in the Bible, the Word of God. Any teachings, doctrines, or ideas originating from persons, churches, or traditions and not expressed or implied in God's Word, may not be included in the gospel of Christ. To mix them with the original content of the gospel is to 'pervert the gospel of Christ.' "