When are Traditions Wrong?
1 October 2017 AM – Mark 7:1-23 – Mr17 – Scott Childs
Introduction: Jesus’ ministry was on front page news. Not only in the local press but also in the national dailies – news about Jesus had reached Jerusalem. A delegation of experts made the 166 km journey to find out just what Jesus was doing and saying in Galilee. While there, they attacked His disciples for not washing according to tradition before they ate. This was not a matter of hygiene but of religious tradition. The Jewish leaders had added many rules and traditions to the Bible.
Today, we have traditions as well. Some are good and some are not good. How can we know the difference?
Transition: A careful look at our text reveals three principles that can help us determine when traditions are wrong.
A tradition is wrong when …
1. It is Placed above or Equal with the Bible (v.1-8)
a. The Pharisees and Scribes questioned Jesus (v.1-5)
1) They taught that one was defiled (i.e., unholy) if he ate without washing first.
2) This rule was a manmade tradition.
b. Some traditions are good
1) Tradition means: something handed down by word of mouth or in writing.
2) Some family traditions may be good.
3) Biblical traditions are good. (2 Th 2:15) “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.”
c. Other traditions are bad
1) A tradition is bad when outward claims replace inward closeness to God (v.6).
a) Isaiah predicted that men would honour God with their lips but not in their hearts (Isa 29:13).
b) God wants us to worship Him from our hearts not just by outward actions or traditions.
c) Such worship is vain or empty and useless.
2) A tradition is bad when it replaces a Bible command (v.7-8).
a) Bible doctrine comes from God and is perfect.
b) Man’s doctrine may be good but not perfect.
c) Many religions place their writings equal to or above the Bible. This is obviously bad. (Col 2:8) “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.” (Titus 1:14) “Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.”
A tradition is wrong when …
2. It Teaches Contrary to the Bible (v.9-13)
a. A tradition is wrong if it causes you to disregard the Bible (v.9)
1) Jesus identified a tradition that contradicted the Bible.
a) They had to reject the Word of God to keep their tradition (v.9).
b) In verse 10, God said through Moses, (Exod 20:12) “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” (Exod 21:17) “And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.” The word curseth did not just mean blaspheme them. It meant to slight or to treat as unimportant. God said that child was to be put to death.
c) Tradition said, a man could tell his parents, “Sorry I cannot look after you because my money is Corban or dedicated to God” (v.11). He was then not allowed to do anything to help his parents (v.12).
2) Many religions teach things that contradict the Bible. Here is one example. The Bible says, (1 Peter 1:18-19) “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; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” Some religions contradict the Bible and say you must be baptized or do good deeds to be saved.
b. A tradition is wrong when it undermines Bible authority.
1) Unbiblical traditions make the Bible unimportant. The “Corban” tradition made the Bible command to honour parents void or useless (v.13).
2) It is wrong when church doctrine replaces Bible doctrine.
3) It is wrong when church tradition substitutes music and entertainment for most or all of the Bible preaching in a church service.
4) Many manmade holiday traditions undermine the Bible. Father Christmas, Christmas trees, and Easter bunnies hide the true meaning of Christmas and Easter.
5) Unbiblical traditions make man the authority not God.
A tradition is wrong when …
3. It Promotes Outward Piety Instead of Inward Purity (v.14-23)
a. Defilement is not an external issue (v.14-19)
1) Jesus’ disciples were accused of outward defilement. Remember, defile means unholy.
a) They failed to wash traditionally.
b) This tradition had replaced Bible truth.
2) Jesus said what goes in the mouth does not defile.
a) Holiness does not reside in the digestive system but in the heart.
b) Nothing in the passage is said about eating nonkosher foods that were forbidden in the O.T.. The issue here was about preparation for eating.
c) One dare not use this passage to justify the sin of taking alcohol, drugs, smoke, etc. into the body. God said, (Proverbs 23:31) “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
d) Jesus simply said that what goes in the mouth passes through the body. Substances taken into the belly do not enter the heart (v.19).
b. Defilement is an internal issue (20-23)
1) Defilement (unholiness) comes from within the heart.
a) All sin comes out of the heart (v.20).
b) God taught this truth to Samuel when he was anointing the next king and he thought David’s big brother looked like the perfect candidate. (1 Samuel 16:7) “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”
2) Sin takes place when the heart decides to disobey God.
a) When the heart is not right with God, it defiles the person by sinning. It is a heart issue!
b) This is the reason God said we must honour Him with our lips and our hearts (v.6).
3) Jesus said what comes out of a man’s heart defiles him or makes him unholy because it comes from his heart.
a) Note the list of sins that come from an unholy heart (v.21-23)
b) The same principle applies to ALL outward activities. When our heart is holy our activities (like speech, music, dress, reading, entertainment) will be holy. If our heart is defiled or unholy our activities will be as well.
Conclusion: How is your heart this morning? Has it been misled by man’s traditions? Is it hanging on to religious traditions that you hope will save your soul? Is it as pure on the inside as it is pious on the outside? These are tough questions, but if we are truly going to worship the Lord, we must realize that he looks on the heart not on the outside. The condition of your heart tells the truth. You are what your heart is.
If you have never truly trusted Christ, won’t you come to him today? If there is sin in your life that needs confessed, deal with it today. You will find no better time than right now as we sing.
Song: Cleanse Me – 166