Traditions of Men in the Church Today

By: Michael McLeod Date: September 28, 2018

Jesus [pronounced “Yeshua” in Hebrew] replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?  For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.  You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.                                                                            

They worship Me in vain; their teachings are merely the precepts of men.

(Mat 15:3-9)

Yeshua points at the religious who supplant the authority of scripture by their tradition. In their mind It supplies them a loophole to avoid doing what God says to do.  They wished to maintain their piety but not to take care of their parents in their latter years. This is a method used in order to maintain the feeling of having a clear conscience and of religious piety while still having the convenience of not doing what God said to do.  Judaism had its “Oral Law” in the Talmud they actually taught that Yeshua could not do good by making a mud salve or poultice to heal a sick friend’s eye on the Sabbath day among a zillion other things.

It is human nature to complicate matters beyond their original intent.  30,000 to 60,000 new government laws are passed every year in America. Think of all the reams of paper it would take to write down all of the un-written rules that exist in churchianity today. Some are harmless and some not. We close our eyes when we pray.  Liturgies are written in bulletins which detail what those up on a stage are going to perform for the audience. Something never seen in scripture. Some of us dip our fingers in “holy water” and make “the sign of the cross.” We color and hide eggs to find or eat marshmellow bunnies and ham for “Easter.”  We say that you have to speak ecstatically in random syllables called “tongues” in order to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We have rules about what is appropriate to wear on Sunday morning as opposed to Wednesday evening. All these are unwritten rules outside of scripture that guide our behavior.

These only show that many unwritten rules are followed but the question we should be asking is: “Do my religious practices allow me to disobey scripture?” Since this is a condition Yeshua told us to watch out for, “Beware the leaven of the Pharisees,” consider with me some challenging scriptures which are at the least provocative and at the most life changing.  Hopefully more the latter if you read to the end.

In walking out our faith in Yeshua there are five kinds of legalism that He warns us about.

Legalism subtracts from God’s word. “’Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.’  He was also saying to them, ‘You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.’” Mark 7:8-9

Legalism adds to Gods word.

Legalism majors on the minors.

Legalism feints doing the letter of the Law but does not accomplish the spirit of the Law.

Legalism trys to make God indebted to us.  It tries to earn the salvation by our works.

We cannot be saved from our sins by keeping the Law. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” -Ephesians 2:8-10

Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? …  They worship Me in vain; their teachings are merely the precepts of men”

Though we cannot be saved by the Law, Yeshua and the Apostle Paul do have something to say about what our responsibilities to the Commandments actually are.  Are grace and Law mutually exclusive? Can we obey the commands to “not murder” oe love your neighbor” and still walk in Grace? His word tells us the following:

Does the fact that we cannot be saved by the Law mean that the Law is “made void”? Is it “nullified”?                                             

In Rom 3:31 Paul states: “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the Law.”              

1 Corinthians 7:19  

Referring to the Law Paul states:”Circumcision is nothing, and un-circumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.”  

John the apostle states in 1 John 5:2  “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.”

Matthew 19:17 “And he said to him, Why do you call me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if you will enter into life, keep the Commandments.”

1 John 2:3  

“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.”  An interesting side note is that every single command Yeshua gave is a reiteration in application or explanation of commands given in the Old Testament. Even his “new” command is an explanation telling us to look at Yeshua as a perfect illustration of what it looks like to love.  “Love one another as I have loved you.”

1 John 2:4  

“He that says, I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

1 John 3:22  

“And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.”

1 John 3:24  

“And he that keeps his commandments lives in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he lives in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.”

1 John 5:3  

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”

Revelation 12:17 “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”  Again this speaks of those who obey God’s Commandments.

Revelation 14:12  

“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the Commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”  The Commands of God are a clear reference to the Law.  

Revelation 22:14

“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. “

1John 2:3-6 “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.  Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.  But if anyone obeys his word, love for God  is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”

Matthew 5:17-19 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

The NIV also agrees with the consensus of other translations on vs.18a: “For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law…”

John 14:15

“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” In light of Yeshua’s commands in Matthew 5:17-19 and other places to obey the Law it would difficult to keep this command and at the same time disobey the Law he told us to keep in the first place.

John 14:21  

“He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”

One of Yeshua’ commands was that we should obey his Fathers commands written in the Law. See Matthew 5:19 above and Matthew 4:4

1 John 3:4-10                                                                                                                                                                          “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.  But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.  No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.  Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.  The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.  No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.  This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.”  Notice he uses a continuing tense, “sinning”. This of course speaking of those who live in the lifestyle of sin without repentance. In John’s first chapter he states,” If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

Rom 13:9-10 

“…., One who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Can you Love your neighbor and steal from him or break other commands against them?

Matthew 22:37-40 

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” According to Rom 13:9-10 above you cannot love without obeying the Commands and obeying the instructions of the Law means we love our neighbors.  The Law compels us to Love and the Spirit enables us to do it.

1 John 5:2-4a 

“Here is how we know that we love God’s children: when we love God, we also do what he commands. For loving God means obeying his commands. Moreover, his commands are not burdensome, because everything which has God as its Father overcomes the world.”

Again we cannot be saved from our sins by keeping the Law. However, does authentic faith compel us to obey? I considered the implications of the scriptures we just read and drew the following observations.  Please test them and let me know if they are in error:

We are saved only by the atoning blood and resurrection of our Messiah Yeshua/Yeshua.  To his followers He gives us the instruction to obey all commands of his Father (Matt 5:17-19) and to teach them to one another. Is this not true?

Yeshua taught that everyone who obeys and teaches others to obey his Fathers commands would be blessed and counted as great.(Matt 5:17-19)

Conversely, he also taught that those who do not obey the least of those commands and teach others that they do not have to obey either will in the end be called “Least”.

So let’s repeat that for clarity: According to Matthew 5:17-19, Yeshua taught that he did not come to abolish the Law but rather to do it and that we should both do and teach it to others. (Matt 5:17-19)

Yeshua teaches that to love God necessitates obeying His commandments and that those who do not obey are liars and actually do not love Him or their neighbors. (Matthew 22:36-40 see especially Rom 13:8-10, John 14:21 and 1John 5:2-4a)

Yeshua teaches that those people who forsake the commands are “Lawless”. They are “Anti-nomian”. He states that those who willfully do not obey his Fathers commandments with their lives will be cast out of the Kingdom and sent to the place reserved for the Devil and his angels. (Matt 7:23)

Paul agrees with Yeshua, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Paul taught that sin is disobeying the Law and that we should not sin. (Rom 6:1)

Paul also taught the followers of Yeshua ought to “uphold” the Mosaic Law (Rom 3:31).

Paul was accused by the Jews of teaching others Instead)Acts 24:16 he affirmed to the contrary that he obeyed the Law and always maintained a clear conscience. (to not obey the commandments and he very strongly denied that this was the case.

The Apostle John taught that sin is “transgressing the Law” and that Loving God necessarily means that we obey him. (1Jn 2:3-6, 3:4-10 and 5:3. John 14:15, 21, 23)

He also taught that those who say they love God yet willingly continue to sin are liars and actually hate God.  (1Jn 2:3-6, 3:4-10 and 5:3)

John clearly states that people who do not turn from sin do not belong to Christ (1John 2:3-6 and 1John 3:4-10).

There is an absence of any instruction given by Yeshua or the apostles to disobey the commandments.  If we are allowed to continue in sin after being washed from it wouldn’t there be at least a statement in scripture saying that? Gentiles are free to have relationship with Yahweh without becoming Jewish through circumcision but are called by Paul to faithfully follow the Law (Rom 3:31, 6:1, 7:7, 6:12-18, Gal 2:17-18.) as well as by the other apostles. 

There are no examples of any instructions that we are told by Yeshua or any of the apostles to disobey the law.  We are made free from the power sin has over us but not free to sin.  “Sin is the transgression of the Law”. (1 John 3:4)  And when we sin, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Leviticus 24:22 highlights interestingly that the Mosaic Law was intended to apply to all believers not just Jewish one’s: “You are to have the same law for the foreigner and the native-born. I am the Lord your God.”

When we turn from sin and believe in Yeshua for His Atonement he takes the accusations and the sentence against us and nails it to the cross: Col 2:13-14 “And you, being dead in your sins and the un-circumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;  Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.”

(Please note: “…handwriting of ordinances that was against us…” is in context and grammar speaking of forgiveness of a debt: GK. “χειρογραφον τοις δογμασιν” CHEIROGRAPHON TOIS DOGMASIN which is canceling out the sentence against us.  Marking a certificate of debt as paid in full abolishes the punishment because it is paid. It does not abolish the Laws themselves or else murder, fornication, theft would now be legitimate pursuits and we would have no need for forgiveness in the first place.  But as it states, the sentence laid to our charge is abolished by being nailed to the cross. The commands themselves he declares, “I have not come to abolish the Law but I have come to do them to the uttermost.”-Matt 5:17) and Paul states similarly in Romans 3:31 that the Law is not nullified but that we should uphold it.  

Does having our accusation, pronouncement of guilt or sentence removed mean that we can go on disobeying?

Rom 6:1 “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” To Paul and John both, sin is defined as breaking the commands of the Law, “I would not know what sin is except by the Law” (Rom 7:7) and “Sin is transgression of the Law.”(1John 5:2-4a)  Could this somehow be construed to mean that he was trying to tell us we can continue sinning? Gal 2:17 says “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.  For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.”

Again scripture declares “Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7) Wouldn’t He write it down somewhere that the Law is nullified? And yet instead of this we only see the opposite instruction: any who disobey and teach to disobey are the least and any who obey and teach others so are great.                                                                                                                                                                   Rom 3:31 “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.”

The fourth command tells us to “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.”  He tells us to rest and fellowship on an appointed day. Some deny that there are any repetitions of the Sabbath command in the “New Testament” in spite of the clear 55 references in the NT.  Are they correct? Here are some of the more notable ones including Gentile participation which according to Eusebius and other historians continued through the first century to AD 134 when Caesar Hadrian made the Biblical calendar illegal in the Roman Empire.

“For He has spoken somewhere about the seventh day as follows: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”,  and in this again: “They shall never enter into My rest”.  Since then it remains that some may enter into it, and the ones formerly having had-good-news-announced to them did not enter because of disobedience,  He again designates a certain day, “Today”, saying by David after so much time just as it has been said-before:

“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Heb 4:4-7).

“There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. “(Hebrews 4:9-11).

“On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.” (Acts 16:13)

Each first Sabbath let each one of you set aside in store, as God has prospered him, that there be no collections when I come. (1 Corinthians 16:2) Note that the Greek word “σαββατων” sabbaton is referring to sabbath while some English texts obscure its meaning by translating it as “week”.

“But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and fornication, and things strangled, and blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day’” (Acts 5:21).  According to this text the Gentile believers were to learn everything they needed to know about the Laws from the scriptures on which day?  Do you see which day it says?

The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath (Mark 2:27-28).  Was the Sabbath made for the Jew only? Who else in this verse was the seventh day rest made for?

“For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:8 The Father created the day of rest on the seventh day at creation before the Law of Moses.  Yeshua is stating that He is the Master of that seventh day and arguably the spiritual rest to which it points.  A day for rest, fellowship and communion with the Father further is elaborated on in the letter to the Hebrews chapter 4 referred to above.

“Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter or on the Sabbath day (Matthew 24:20)  The Sabbath is mentioned as an important part of the life of the believer who experiences the future events after the resurrection of Yeshua. If in reference to future tribulation events then why does Yeshua ask us to pray about the Sabbath if it will be abolished?

According to early church writers, such as Eusebius, record that the disciples of Yeshua kept holy the shabbat, the seventh day, as a day of rest and meeting to fellowship with the other saints up to 134 AD. Then it was made illegal. After the second Jewish revolt, the” Bar Kochba Rebellion” Caesar Hadrian, Emperor of Rome, outlawed the Mosaic calendar with its Sabbaths and feast days. Those under Roman domination in Judea, Alexandria and Italy, tended to succumb to the pressure as recorded by Eusebias.  Later, during the time of Constantine in the third century, the Council of Leodicea declared for the first time in church history that Sunday was the New Sabbath according to the authority of the church. (Eusebius “History of the Church” book 4 chapter 5) Roman Catholic historians confirm this which is why the Catholic church credits itself with changing the day of worship.

If the Sabbath were abolished by God then why is the seventh day prophesied to be observed in the future millennial Messianic Kingdom in Ezekiel 46:1-4,12?  Do antinomian proponants want us to believe that the Sabbath was given at Creation, practiced all throughout the pre-Moses period, during Moses time and after, during the time of Yeshua, endorsed by Yeshua, Peter, John and Paul, practiced through the first century, then changed to the first day in the second century to present, then re instituted through the Messianic kingdom for a thousand years on through eternity? Do you see the glaring inconsistency?  To what purpose would this temporary hick-up changing God’s word be?

“Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7) What scriptures tell of this doing away with the Sabbath?

And yet the prophecies of the future all tell of Jew and Gentile alike remembering to observe the Sabbath day.

Isaiah 56:6 reveals that in the future Millennial reign of our Messiah,

And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord
        to minister to him,
to love the name of the Lord,
          and to be his servants,
all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
          and who hold fast to my covenant…

Since there is such emphasis on the seventh day in the Old Testament and it was so ingrained in Israel’s conscience and society, wouldn’t you think there would be a very clear declaration that the Sabbath was being retired or Nullified?    Is there any such statement in the either testament? You would expect to see a nullification of the Sabbath and a command to set aside Sunday for rest. Yet there are no such instructions in the New Testament or the rest of scripture. Doesn’t Yeshua repeatedly warn against nullifying the law?

The bible warns that any who tell us to depart from the commandments of God are to be rejected. (Deut 13:2-5).  According to Jeremiah 31:33 the new covenant instructs us to obey the same commandments that were in the old but now with the power of the Spirit writing them on our hearts.  Because we could not keep the old, a renewed covenant with the same terms of contract is given for our part but for his part He gives Grace, the power of His presence and His Holy Spirit to remind us. John 14:23-25

Yeshua replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and            make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.‘… “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

Yeshua taught those who would follow him to obey his Father’s Commandments.  He states in Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter

the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

Again: Rev 22:14” Blessed are they that do his commandments that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”

So where are these prophecies declaring the Commands nullified?

Other than conforming to tradition and our friends wishes or the possibility of being embarrassed, is there any reason to not rest on the day he set aside?  Is there any scriptural reason to not keep the seventh day holy?  “…as it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” Heb 4:7b

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