But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? ~Matthew 15:3
Do you have traditions that have been passed down in your family? All of us probably have certain family traditions that we hold dear for different times of the year such as birthdays, Christmas, ethnic New years, and other key celebrations. As a church, we have made special Bible-preaching conferences a tradition associated with our church anniversary, the Spring, and the Fall. We have national traditions where fireworks are part of the tradition. Traditions are established practices that we keep. This morning, we see where traditions clashed with God.
We see the instructive value.
The right kind of traditions can have immense value. They are a means of preserving cultural distinctions. They are a means for establishing and maintaining our identity as Biblical Baptists. When practiced correctly and truthfully, they help us to understand our roots and why our practices should be preserved. In our church services, we traditionally sing congregational hymns to unite the church in singing to our Lord. We cite the pledge of allegiance to our flag around Independence Day to remind ourselves of the Biblical roots of the founding of America. The right traditions teach and reinforce for future generations things that are right.
We see the intentional violation.
In our devotion this morning, we see where traditions clash with God. The Pharisees were critical of Jesus’ disciples eating without washing their hands first. They elevated external practices over a clean and right heart. “But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” Jesus gave them a blistering rebuke for sinning against God by the elevation of their traditions over the commandments of God. Jesus cited one disturbing example of Pharisaical traditions that clashed with God’s commands. It had to do with obeying one’s parents. The Pharisee’s were notorious for bending God’s commands to fit their sinful lifestyles. In doing so, they led people to follow traditions and customs over the clear commands of God. “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” It is a sin to let traditions take a precedent over the commands of God.
We see an inspiring veracity.
“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.” Jesus made it very clear that eating with unwashed hands did not defile a man and make him unfit to eat. A man is defiled from the sins that proceed out of his heart. Jesus revealed that the traditions of the Pharisees were corrupt because they were the emanations of corrupted hearts. The truth teaches us that God knows what is in our hearts. Man always looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. God looks at the purity of our motive and methods. In effect, Jesus corrected years of corrupt teaching and reprioritized obedience to the commandments of God. God’s commandments are not grievous. They are for our benefit and an essential part of our spiritual pathway. The truth is always liberating. It is traditions that many times that hold people bound and captive.
Traditions are good and useful when they are in submission to God’s Word. When a person gets saved, he must be careful to examine his cultural, ethnic, and past religious traditions to see if they clash with God’s commands. When it is uncovered that there is a clash, there must be a parting and forsaking of these traditions and a whole-hearted following of God. Let truth prevail over tradition.
Have a sanctifying God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Matthew 1-4