THE INVISIBLE INNER ENEMY
Mark 7:5-7 "Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commands of men."
Definition of Tradition
Strongs Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible: transmission of a precept, specifically Jewish traditional law; an ordinance.
Websterís unabridged Dictionary: 1. A legal term meaning the act of delivering into the hands of another. 2. originally, a surrender; a betrayal. 3. the delivery of opinions, doctrines, practices, rites, and customs from generation to generation by oral communication.
Which Tradition Do We Obey?
The Bible describes two ways of following tradition. The first following of tradition is described in our text and is an evil which is denounced by Christ. The second following of tradition is described in II Thess. 2:15, "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle." The difference in these two traditions is that the first is a command of man and the second is a command of God. How can we tell the difference? Very easily. Is your tradition taught in the Bible? What is the Bible verse that teaches the tradition you are following? If you donít have a Bible verse for your tradition, then you may be following a tradition of man.
The Scribes and Pharisees truly believed they were worshipping God by keeping the oral commands handed down from generation to generation. They had placed the oral commands above the written word while continuing to believe they were faithful to God.
Many Christians fall into the same trap. They believe they are really worshipping God because they are doing things like they have always done them. Even a lost person can find comfort in repetitive worship. How many Baptist people find comfort in ritualistic "worship" which isnít true worship at all? II Tim. 3:5, "Having a form of worship, but denying the power thereof..." This is the type of worship that will be carried on at the close of the church age. Jesus said, Mark 7:9, "...ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition." and Mark 7:13, "Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition..."
Therefore, the invisible inner enemy is "tradition", the habit of doing things a particular way because things have always been done that way.
The Peril of Following Erroneous Tradition
Living by the wrong tradition shows a lack of faith. Faith is looking into the future and seeing things that have never been and knowing they will come true because God will make them come true. Following tradition is looking into the past instead of looking to God. Luke 9:62, "...No man, having put his hand to the plough and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God."
Remember, it is not necessarily bad to be "traditional". But it is bad to look back to the way God blessed in the past and expect Him to bless that way in the future. It just may be that God will bless in a different way than we have ever seen. The Pharisees, who were very "traditional" people, didnít believe Jesus was the Christ because He didnít come like they expected Him to. We can miss many blessings because we are looking for things to happen one way, and God causes them to happen another way. May God help us to keep an open mind to see all the blessings of God.
When Israel needed water, God told Moses to strike the rock. When God told him to get water the second time, he struck the rock a second time because (1) of anger (2) and that is how he did it the first time. This was disobedience on his part and caused him not to enter into the promised land. This same thing can happen to us. We might be longing for the blessings of God, but cannot receive those blessings because we are not really listening to what He is telling us to do to receive those blessings. We are continually doing things like we have always done them. We are working very hard at it, but arenít getting anywhere. When we keep working hard and arenít getting anywhere, something is wrong. We need to take a critical look at ourselves and our works to see what is wrong and change the error and do right. We may have to do things we have never done before. But this is what God expects us to do.