“…you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.”
– Mark 7:9
The Mishnah or “Oral Torah” was a collection of Jewish traditions in the Talmud. They were initially established to be reminders of holiness and to keep the Scriptures pure. A sort of fence around the written Word. As is often the case, however, human nature took over, and the traditions of men became more important than God’s Word itself. In fact, it has been noted that the Talmud records, “It is a greater offense to teach anything contrary to the voice of the Rabbis than to contradict Scripture itself.”
It can be easy to look outside the Christian church and observe religions exemplifying the accusation of Jesus when He said, “laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men.” What about the Christian church, though? Should we not take stock in house? Is it not possible that we can be suspect of Jesus’ claim of honoring Him with our lips when our hearts are far from Him? I believe we can!
There is a conflict between God’s truth and man’s traditions. There are helpful reminders of customs and cultures, yet as a wise man once wrote, “human nature is prone to hold on to worn-out man-made traditions and ignore or disobey the living Word of God.” What we have instituted should never come before what God commands.
As we observe the global church today, what do we glean from it? Are we still testing the spirits to see if they are from God, or are we blindly following the traditions of men? What if the Lord Jesus Christ wants revival, and we lay that aside because “this is the way we have always done it?”
It is concerning when we begin touting how many years a ministry has been holding an event and how many people it catered to. When we do that, have we not become just like a fast-food restaurant that claims to have served billions? It could be that the Lord wants to do a new thing, and when we hold on to traditions, we may just be in His way.
“We must constantly test all teaching and all tradition by the Word of God, obeying what is of God and rejecting what is of men. At first, a man may teach and preach a clear, scriptural message, gaining acceptance among Bible-believing people. Having gained this acceptance, he begins to add some human teaching. His devoted followers who have come to feel that he can do no wrong follow him blindly, even if his message blunts the sharp edge of the Word or waters down its clear meaning.”
– William MacDonald