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. Colossians 2:8
TEXT: Matthew 15:1-20
Looking at our memory verse closely, we realized that the stern warning of Paul was directed to the believers in the Church of Colossi. Because we are called by the name of the Lord, the same warning is relevant to us today. It is relevant because Christians of our time are expected to bear the banner of the truth that the word of God represents. In one of our Bible Studies in 2006 our General Superintendent stated the characteristics of Christian—Each letter in the word denotes the characteristic of a Christian.
C—Converted and become a Christ minded person. Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3)
H—Holiness–Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (Hebrew 12:14)
R—Renewing of mind– And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2
I—Inspired and instructed people
I—Influential in Righteousness people
A—Abiding to the precepts of Christ–Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. (John 15:4)
N—Nourished in the word of Truth
Christianity is the lifestyle of the citizens of the kingdom of Heaven. Christianity should not be equated with worldliness because they are two parallel lines. Parallel lines do not meet. As a result we should beware of any habit, any way of life, or any worldly activities that can compromise, corrupt or pollute the godly characteristics of Christianity.
Before we consider the roles of the tradition of men among the Scribes and Pharisees in the text we just read, we need to know they type of people they were. The Pharisees were a group within Judaism religion of the Hebrews. Pharisees means separated. Their ways of life depicted the holier than thou attitude but in actuality they demonstrated hypocritical and ostentatious holiness while despising others. They observed the Mosaic rituals, they were very zealous about tradition of elders. They were outwardly moralists and self-righteous people. They always were hammering on insignificant things in their criticism of other people while failed to address the weighty matters of the law of God. Jesus condemned their ways of life. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. (Matthew 23:23)
On the other hands, the Scribes also known as lawyers were teachers of the law. They propound theories of the law that the Pharisees aimed to obey.
WHAT ARE THE TRADITION OF MEN
The elders that introduced the various traditions are men of a great influence in their congregations and in their communities. They are men of a strong influence that carry people along. But at the same time they are also men with ulterior motive, men that are only interested to carve name for themselves contrary to the revelation of the word of God. The Pharisees followed these traditions in order to indicate that they were part of the accepted religious men of their time. Some of their traditions include:
- • Washing of hand before eating
• Performing ablutions
• They do not consider honoring ones parent as the law of God demands rather they said anything good you do unto them is considered as giving out a gift to God
• They honor god with their lips but their hearts is far away from him
• They are men pleasers—that is why they pray in the public intersection point where people passing by will see them and consider them as holy people
The tradition of men in our time includes—
- • Subtle approval of traditional naming ceremony methods
• Ceremonising Birthdays
• Bazaar Sales in the Church—instead of offering and tithe—promotes exhibition of pride
• Pastors wearing special garments for worship—garment does not make him acceptable
• Traditional chieftaincy titles introduced into the church—Baba Egbe/Iya egbe
• Native burial rites
• Religious baths in the water—not baptism—but for prayer purposes—no NT examples
• Burning of candle or incense—for prayer purposes
• The celebration of Christmas with all the trapping of heathenism
• Introduction of Lent and Ash Wednesday in the church—which our Lord did not command us
• Women practically dressing in men clothing; Men dressing in women clothing—mainly because of the sinful orientations and relationship they engaged themselves in.
• Incorporating “alternative lifestyle” as an acceptable practices in the church
We always assume that it does not really matter if we practice these traditions of men in our times. Certainly most of the tradition is against the principle of holiness because it only satisfies the lust of flesh. God does not want men to guide their lives according to men’s traditions. He expects us to be guided by His word. Therefore brethren, when your tradition is in conflict with the word of God, I implore you to allow the word of God to prevail. That is why Bible is the manual of life guiding us to know the mind of God about the ways we are to conduct ourselves.
ANGER OF GOD AGAINST THE TRADITIONS OF MEN
Nadab and Abihu were two children of Aaron the Priest. They were also serving in the temple of God with their father. They followed the tradition of men and offered strange fire before the Lord and they were devoured. Leviticus 10:1-2; Leviticus 18:29; Isaiah 29:13-14. Deviating from God’s purpose and pattern in worship is like offering strange fire and this might trigger off God’s wrath as seen in the example of Nadab and Abihu. Those who follow after the traditions of men also stand the risk of being cut off from the midst of God’s people.
Brethren, the question is, “Where is your heart, today? If you say your heart is on the Lord’s side, What are you obeying with the heart? Are you obeying God or man? Are you using certain rules that are not of God to assert your self-righteousness, thereby looking down on others? Finally, Is your heart prepared to approach God in humility, to surrender all and ready to receive His precepts of righteousness? May His mercy guide us as we continue in the Christians life journey, Amen.
Let us pray–