False teachings, Traditions and Faulty Philosophy are common words we attribute the enemy’s “tares” among the seeds of truth. If you went and Google’d “tradition” its defined as “the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way; A long established custom or belief that has been passed on in this way.” You can tell that these things are age-old, deeply rooted mindsets, irregardless of their value and truth.
Being a true follower of Jesus Christ of Nazareth – the Son of God, He who died on the cross for all humanity and blotted out all our sins and reconciled us to the Father, one needs to pay attention to the warnings about the dangers of the “traditions of men”.
We already talked about the true path of Eternal life, confirmed the message of the wedding feast and learned about bearing fruit. We have been warned about the “subtle deceitfulness” that permeates in this world (and yes, there’s a lot out there so go discern). This issue about “traditions” is big in the arena of life. The list below paints a picture of how God views the traditions of man looking back since the days of Moses as they came out of Egypt.
After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.
*note: “ordinances” may also means ‘custom’, or something prescribed
Lets see the context of the NT reference found in Matthew 15:1-12~
1 . Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,
2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to [his] father or [his] mother, [It is] a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;
6 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.
7 [Ye] hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with [their] lips; but their heart is far from me.
9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men.
10 . And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:
11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?
In verse 12, notice the word of interest ‘offended’ as we discussed before, there is always this significant trademark reaction which reminds us of the tell tale signs when this happens to us. The same incident from Mark’s viewpoint below shows even more the impact of men’s ‘traditions’ – it replaces God’s commandments.
5 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?
6 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.
7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men.
8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, [as] the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:
11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, [It is] Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; [he shall be free].
12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;
13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
14 And when he had called all the people [unto him], he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one [of you], and understand:
15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.
16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.
It is perfectly clear what Jesus said – that, by keeping with traditions:
- we sin against God,
- we reject God’s commandments replacing it with our own,
- we put to no effect His commandments,
- we worship Him in vain
Now, this is the part when it gets ‘itchy’ and people then begin to justify their actions by trying to explain the context of scripture to suit their inclinations and their desires. Remember the passages from: 2Timothy 4:3-4
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
also 2Peter 3:16,
16 As also in all [his] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as [they do] also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know [these things] before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
here in Jude 1:18,19,
18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
19 These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.
Traditions come in all shapes and sizes so lets put them in perspective. If you dare to agree, I see 3 major classes of traditions:
1.) Includes every practice that is not of God : warned about in God’s word; anything that opposes what the scripture says – Ungodly tradition can become our downfall if we allow it, by ignoring the warnings or not knowing God’s commandments. Even in the days of Moses as we read from Leviticus, God is not happy with the vain practices that go against His will. He warned them even before:
When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.
Having good intentions does not excuse us from God’s anger. We recall the Israelites who just witnessed God’s power in the Exodus. Things went well for them , having escaped Egypt, saw the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire, miraculously crossed the Red Sea, they sang songs to praise God, ate the manna but later put up the golden calf:
7 . And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted [themselves]:
8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These [be] thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
9 And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it [is] a stiffnecked people:
10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.
Jeremiah 10:2-4 – warnings don’t end, we shouldn’t follow what the ungodly do!
2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
3 For the customs of the people [are] vain: for [one] cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
I know a few pagan traditions that are embraced by many professing Christians today: Christmas/ Santa, reindeer elves and the tree, Easter/ Egg hunts, Halloween/ Trick or treating, horoscopes and lucky charms.
There are other traditions we’ll have to talk about separately, false teachings that some major churches today practice. Sadly if the members only took time to read their Bibles (like the 10 commandments in Exodus 20), they shouldn’t fall prey.
Mostly, people simply don’t know. But one need not be in a library to read about them, in this day and age, there’s no excuse not to learn anything. The sad part is getting folks offended when told the truth. The frame of thought seem to be – ‘My friends are doing it, I don’t want to be left out or be the odd one’. This is another very dangerous position.
2.) The Old Testament Traditions – Procedural, numerical, organized, rudimentary practices. All of which are part of the God-given rules called the Law. To me, the original God given laws thru Moses expresses the justice system of Heaven and was lovingly designed to keep God’s children a chosen people separate from the other peoples in that they are to be pure and so blessed among all nations. Though it wasnt able to make one righteous in the sight of God for by now we know ‘all have sinned and come short of the glory of God’. Instead the law was to be used to judge His people. See more about the law in our study of Romans 2 here.
But as it is written, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, the Lamb of God, when He died, put the New covenant into effect. His death was the last and final act of sacrifice that was needed to reconcile us to God. Even the strictest compliance to the Law will not save anyone. Its only by the blood of the Lamb. Anything else is done in vain.
1Peter 1:18 & 19:
18 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;
19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
It is further explained that the way His people pursued God’s law does not meet His standards, it says in Romans 9:31,32~
31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.
32 Wherefore? Because [they sought it] not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
Walk in faith in Christ. See Colossians 2:6 -14…
6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, [so] walk ye in him:
7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
8 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.
9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with [him] through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
13 . And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
3.) The New Testament “traditions” – No ordinances here. In the following verses, the same Greek word “paradosis” was used to refer to “tradition” which the apostles taught by the word (of God) or by the testimony in their epistles or letters. If you follow the teaching of the author of Salvation, Jesus Christ the Messiah, you’ll never go wrong. God sees the heart and cannot be mocked by rituals and man made ceremonies.
12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
13 . But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
2Thessalonians 3:6~ warning in the letter
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.
The “traditions” I desire to set as examples and leave for my children to continue would be these, So help me God:
- Daily reading and doing what God’s word, the bible, says (Joshua 1:8, Mark 12:29)
- Putting other’s need ahead of my own (Mark 12:31)
- Praying without ceasing (1Thes 5:17; Mark 14:38)
- Thanking God always (Ephesians 5:20)
- Singing praises to God always (Ephesians 5:19)
- Sharing the gospel of repentance to others (Luke 24:47)
- Keeping with the gathering of fellow believers, encouraging and helping each other (Hebrews 10:25)
- Teaching my children the ways of God in everything I do (Deut 11:19)
If you observe the change in the governance, technology, literature, arts, music, and everyday life for the past few centuries till now, you clearly notice that mankind has drifted further away from God and went more to worldly, temporal things. Worldly traditions have indeed flourished and even morphed into fads and trends causing more people to stick to them and remain blinded and deaf to the truth of God and His coming judgement.
In 2 Peter 3, here’s advice to those whose eyes are open and ears that hear: verse 11 .
[Seeing] then [that] all these things shall be dissolved, what manner [of persons] ought ye to be in [all] holy conversation and godliness,
Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
But grow in grace, and [in] the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him [be] glory both now and for ever. Amen.
In Colossians 3 we find…
1 . If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
May God bless you and keep you from falling and stumbling. May you find peace and be on your way to the path that God is taking you. All this I pray in Jesus Christ our Messiah, Lord grant our request. Amen