Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tradition vs. Truth

I grew up in the Roman Catholic Church, which I came out of when Jesus Christ came into my heart and set me free from sin.  The Roman Catholic Church places a great deal of emphasis on traditions.  In fact, their own catechism teaches that equal devotion and reverence must be given to tradition and Scripture.

However, in that religion, tradition is actually placed above the Word of God.  In other words, if there is a question about something in the Bible, they follow tradition, rather than the Bible.  Some examples include the veneration of Mary, her "immaculate conception" and her bodily "assumption into heaven." There is also the apocrypha, transubstantiation, praying to saints, the confessional, penance, purgatory, and more. This is not to single out the Catholic Church, but it serves as an example of what many of the traditional religions do.

Yet Jesus taught that the commandments of God take precedence over man-made tradition.  Any religion that does not put God's Word above tradition is in direct contradiction to the words of our Lord Jesus.

The Pharisees and teachers of the Law were concerned about His disciples breaking their tradition.  They kept many traditions, which you can read about in the Mishnah, the Talmud, and the Midrash. These were oral traditions that were written down.  They asked Jesus about it, saying: "Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread." (Mat 15:2)

But Jesus responded by asking them why they broke the command of God for the sake of their tradition.  In order to follow their traditions, they had to break God's commands.

Here is a chart showing the difference between how these people viewed themselves and how God viewed them:

Their perspective God’s perspective
They were teachers of God’s Law, experts in it. They were teachers of mere man-made rules and traditions (Mt 15:9)
They worshipped God They worshipped God in vain, in other words, to no purpose (Mt 15:9)
They honored God with their lips Their hearts were far from God. They were a great way off and kept themselves distant from him (Mt 15:8)
They were sincerely devoted to God They were hypocrites or mere stage players (Mt 15:7)
They kept the traditions of the elders They broke God’s commands (Mt 15:3)
They ceremonially washed their hands before eating and only ate with clean hands, so that nothing unclean ever went into their mouths.  They were undefiled. Their hearts were full of unclean things like evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and slanders. They uttered these things from their mouths and defiled themselves.  Washing their hands did nothing to keep them from being defiled (Mt 15:10, 17-20)
They taught people the path of righteousness They were blind guides, leading the blind into a pit (Mt 15:14)

This was like another conversation Jesus had with a group of Jews, which is recorded in John 8.  Once again, there was a sharp contrast between how they viewed themselves and how God viewed them.  The following chart shows the differences:

Their perspective God’s perspective
They were children of God (Jn 8:41) They were children of the devil (Jn 8:41, 44)
They heard God’s Word They did not hear God’s Word spoken by His Son (Jn 8:43)
They honored God They dishonored the Son of God, who honored the Father (Jn 8:49)
They were of God They were not of God (Jn 8:47)
They were Abraham’s descendants (Jn 8:33) They were not children of Abraham (Jn 8:39-41)
They were free (Jn 8:33) They were slaves (Jn 8:34-36)
They believed in Jesus (Jn 8:30-31) They would only be His true disciples if they continued in His Word (Jn 8:31)

Likewise, many religious people today see themselves as children of God.  They consider themselves free and feel like they honor God.  They think they worship God, and with their lips they do so.  They consider themselves sincerely devoted to God.  They avoid eating things that would defile them. They teach the importance of their religious traditions and they also teach from the Bible. They feel like they are teaching the path of righteousness.

Multitudes of people in so-called Christian religions, as well as non-Christian religions see themselves this way.  Yet God calls them hypocrites, those who honor Him with their lips, but whose hearts are far from Him.  He says they worship Him in vain.  He says they teach mere, man-made rules, yet break God’s commands.  He says their hearts are still full of evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and slanders. He calls them blind guides, who are leading blind people into the pit.  He says they are slaves and still children of the devil.

The Lord has warned those practicing the traditions of men.  Those who attend festivals in the name of worshiping idols or in remembrance of anything, He shall crush them and cast them into the lake of fire (Mt 15:1-28).  In fact, to those worshiping idols in any way, especially the Roman Catholics, the Lord says you should stop doing that or else He will crush you and cast you from His sight into the lake of fire, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, and their smoke shall rise forever.

My friend, please check yourself to see if that is you.  Are you following after religious traditions, yet breaking God’s commands?  Be sure these things are not true of you.  Make sure that your perspective of yourself is consistent with God's perspective of you.  And if God's perspective of you is one of those listed above in the right-hand column of these charts, then please repent and make it right with God.

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no man comes to the Father except by Him (Jn 14:6).  Your traditions are not what matters to God.  Jesus said that if you continue in His Word, then you would truly be His disciple.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.

References: Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 77, 88, 82, and 97.

Attribution notice: Scripture quotation taken from the NASB. The "I Am the Way" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's note You may also see Roman Catholicism, the Bible and Tradition, by Matt Slick, as as well my own article, Unbiblical Practices of the Catholic Church. Don't miss Angelica Zambrano's First Visit to Hell and Angelica Zambrano's Second Visit to Hell. I also suggest visiting Jack Chick's page on Catholicism. . You may access more of my articles on the Main Directory of this blog, as well as my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master. Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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