Do you hold to the traditions of men, or the Word of God. That is what we look at today in Scripture. We see the example of the the ceremonial washing of hands that the Jews would participate in. This was not to actually be clean, but because it was a tradition of the elders. Do we hold to the tradition of the elders, or worse society, over what Scripture has to say?
1 Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem.
These men were the religious leaders of the day. The Pharisees are the ones that hold tight to the law, at least in their minds and how they present themselves. We will see as we continue that they hold to traditions over the law. Scribes were the record keepers, they spent their days copying scripture. These have come from Jerusalem. Their intent in coming was not to see the good that Jesus is doing, but to come and find fault in Him.
2 Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?”
The Pharisees were known for putting demand on the people that were unreasonable. This is one of those examples. The Pharisees even admitted to it being a tradition and not the law. Yet they still come finding fault with them over not washing as they wash. Do we not do the same thing when it comes to worship. We can look at other churches and other denominations and think they are wrong because they do not worship in the same manner in which we worship. There are some that are down right wrong because they are unbiblical. The next time you catch yourself thinking that some church or person is doing something wrong I challenge you to look into whether it is biblically wrong of wrong according to your traditions. Take it even a step further than that. Look at your traditions and see if they are biblical or if they are standing in the space of scripture. I implore you to know your Bible and allow that to dictate everything else ad not simply your traditions or the way you were raised.
6 He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 7 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’8 For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men —the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”
Jesus straight calls them out on this issue. And talks about how it was prophesied about them through Isaiah. The Pharisees are the ones that did everything for show. They would pray loudly on the street corners so everyone would hear them. They were about looking better than everyone else. But the truth is they were not close to God in the slightest. In fact they would lay aside the things of God to make themselves look better. These are not the people we want to imitate.
9 He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban”—’ (that is, a gift to God), 12 then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, 13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
That is a very scary place to be. Holding our traditions over what the Word says. And sadly many churches are in this place. I remember being at a meeting at the church I grew up in and an issue was raised that was controversial. We as a church were deciding where we were going to stand on said issue. In the midst of the discussion both what the Bible said and what our dominations handbook said where brought up. I honestly do not remember which way we went, though I think it was in the way of the doctrine of our denomination and not with the Bible. Regardless I remember going to some of the people who were saying tradition over doctrine. I was much younger then them and not as well versed in scripture as I should have been. I only knew in the moment that it did not sit well with me that we were discussing whether the Bible had precedence in the situation or not. Now I know why that bothered me so much. At the time all I had was the conviction of the Holy Spirit. When we hold to our traditions over the Word people end up lost and confused. I care more about what God says over what the church I am standing with and attending believes. I care about what they believe and I want to be at a church that has sound doctrine and that looks to the Bible to direct their thinking. Just for records sake that is the case for the last two churches I have chosen to worship at. And the only reason I left the last church was because I moved out of state. I do not believe in church hoping. If your church teaches sound doctrine then the only time you should leave is if ministry calls you elsewhere or if you move to far away to attend that church any more. Leaving a church because your feelings got hurt is ridiculous and we need to be people who are able to work those things out and not allow satan to divide us like he would like to do. Sorry not sure why I went on that little rant, maybe someone needed that on the day they are reading this. My point simply was that we need to pick doctrine, what the Word says, over traditions of men, even founders of our faith. Men cannot see the complete picture and their traditions may be well meaning, but if they contradict scripture they are a very scary thing to fall into.
14 When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand: 15 There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. 16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!”
They were taught that it was all about what you ate or touched that would make you unclean. And there were reasons they were given those commands. It was to both keep them healthy and to keep them separated as God’s chosen people. But what you put in is nowhere near the comparison of what comes out of you.
17 When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. 18 So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?”
I love that the disciples ask. There is no such thing as a stupid question. We will never know unless we ask. As we are reading through scripture are we asking God what He means by things that we do not immediately get? Are we conversing with God over His Word? I know I do and need to start doing so more. I want to know His heart and what He means by things. I am glad the disciples asked and then recorded this for us. What goes into our bodies God has created a system in which we take in the nutrients and our body naturally disposes of the rest. The issue is not our stomachs but our hearts. What is the condition of your heart?
20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
Can anything on this list be found in your heart? I am not asking if you have acted on any of them, I am asking if they exist in your heart. See we can come to to God learn from Him and know the wrong things to do and avoid them. And we should do so, we do not want to act in the way of sin. But just because we are not acting on them does not mean they do not exist in our hearts. Allow God to search your hearts. It is true that the best we can do is behavioral modification, but God is in the business of creating a clean heart in as. He changes our hearts of stone that were hardened by sin and gives us hearts of flesh that beat for Him. Allow Him the access and right to point out things in your heart. Then allow Him to clean it up and change it so it more effectively beats for Him.