• By John Hicks

How are your traditions holding up?

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Colossians 2:8

Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

That was a question asked by Jesus when He challenged the Pharisees on their own man made traditions and it is the same question that every professing Christian today ought to answer as well. I know I had to and still do.

I had many traditions that I was holding onto that did not line up with God’s Word. I would either just blindly hold those things or I would twist the scriptures daily to make them justify whatever it was I wanted justified. Essentially I either followed other people’s traditions or made my own instead of actually believing and adhering to whatever it was that God commanded in His Word.

In the past I would read through these following verses with a focus on what it meant by honoring thy father and mother and the contrast between adhering to laws pertaining to ingestion verses what actually comes out of a person’s heart. While these things are very important the gist of what Jesus was pointing out covered much more than just a couple of issues, it actually covered everything we do.

Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,

Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.

But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;

And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand :

Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?

But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.

Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable.

And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?

Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. Matthew 15:1-20

So why do we transgress the commandments of God by our traditions? 

We continue to make the commandments of God of none effect by our traditions.

We truly are hypocrites if we honestly contrast all we do with scriptures and this includes how we play church. That will be dealt with in a much deeper sense at another time but for now start looking at everything you do in light of God’s Word, including, if not especially including, how we conduct what we call church. How do they hold up?  You will find as I did for myself that I was really trying to draw nigh unto God with my mouth, and was claiming to honor Him but my heart was actually far from Him and was sadly more in line with my own selfish desires.

Here are a few more scriptures that highlight the importance of not following after any tradition other than what God has handed directly to those believers who came before us.

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. 2 Thessalonians 3:6

And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. 1 Peter 1:17-21

But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:

And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,

To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. Galatians 1:11-18

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. 2 Thessalonians 2:15

Jeremiah and Ezekiel spoke out against a tradition embraced during their time and in a sense this idea is still embraced by some today as well. Without getting into the details of what they were saying, which actually was simply, you die for your own sins, it is important to point out that this highlights that adhering to unscriptural and thus ungodly traditions has never been a new thing. There is truly nothing new under the sun when it comes to following after the traditions of men verses the commandments of God.

In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge.

But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge. Jeremiah 31:29-30

What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge?

As I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.

Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die. Ezekiel 18:2-4

We really should be asking ourselves, what provides the justification in doing whatever we do, whether in our worship, our entertainment, our dress, our holidays, and in every other aspect of our daily lives?

The important thing we must do is that we must search the scriptures daily and hold everything we believe and do in our lives, even the supposed mundane day to day things, up to the scriptures. We must prove if these are things we should be doing, or believing, at all.

The Bereans had their established traditions no doubt. They had their established religious beliefs and practices but when Paul came to them with a word that conflicted with their traditions they did what we all ought to do when it comes to anything at all we do or believe, they turned to God’s Word. That is what we ought to be doing with everything in our lives. We should be searching the scriptures for what is true, not twisting them as I did in the past and as so many are doing today. If the Word of God is in contrast with whatever we are doing or believing then instead of manipulating the scriptures to make them say what we want them to say we ought to instead repent and reject whatever tradition does not bring God glory and start seeking the things that does.

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. Acts 17:10-12

So how are your traditions holding up?

Are you proving all things in order that you can know what is true and hold fast to those things that please God?

It is the truth that God loves and anything to the contrary that we dabble in brings shame to ourselves and does not bring glory to God.

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22

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