Keeping Tradition in Its Place

[Jesus] said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?”

–Matthew 15:3

Where do all the false philosophies in our world come from? Ultimately, all the false religions and false philosophies in our world today come from Satan, leading people away from the true God to follow a false god.

But in Colossians 2:8, Paul said false philosophy is “according to the tradition of men.” Most of the popular false philosophies today are based on the teachings of humans like Aristotle or Plato and are hundreds or even thousands of years old. But just because something has been around a long time doesn’t mean it’s right. If a philosophy was wrong hundreds of years ago, it’s still wrong today.

Many Christians don’t understand that truth. They think if something is part of our religious or cultural tradition, then it must be right. In Matthew 15, the Pharisees levied this criticism at Jesus: “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread” (v. 2). Jesus answered, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” (v. 3). The Jewish leaders had developed hundreds of laws apart from the Bible, and they believed their tradition was not only equal to the Word of God but superseded the Word of God. Their empty religion and empty philosophy were based on their tradition rather than God’s Word. Unfortunately, there are Christians today who do the same thing: they set aside the clear teaching of God’s Word to follow the teaching of their parents, their denomination, or their nation.

Years ago, Pathway to Victory broadcast a sermon in which I talked about the First Amendment and the first commandment. The First Amendment gives Americans the freedom to worship any god or no god, so many people think, That must mean all gods are equal. No, the First Amendment has not replaced the first commandment, which says, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3).

After that sermon was broadcast, I made the mistake of going on the internet to see what people were saying about it. I couldn’t believe some of the comments–not just from non-Christians but also from Christians, who wrote things like, “I can’t believe that pastor would put the Bible above the Constitution.” I have news for you: The Constitution is based on the words of men, and it can change. But the Bible is based on the Word of God, and it never changes. We are never to set aside God’s Word to follow human tradition.

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Today’s devotion is adapted from “The Problem with Philosophy” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

 

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