I remember when I first started going to church. I did not fully understand the Bible, nor the lessons of the prophets, the judges, or the Messiah. I simply followed my fellow sheep and tried to understand the message for the weekend. However, as I started to study God’s word on my own and started to go from drinking the milk of the service to eating meat (spiritually), I started to notice that a lot of things that were being said or done did not properly align with God’s word. I remember when I asked the pastor why he was doing something specific that was not biblical and he simply responded to me “that is how we just do things.” Those words never left my mind from that day forward because I started to look out for how churches were “just doing things” instead of following God’s word to the letter. I soon noticed that many of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ were placing their trust in traditions instead of the Word of God, and I was no different because I did not know any better.
Jesus taught about this very issue in the book of Matthew, in chapter 15. The Pharisees (religious people of that time) could not wait to corner Jesus about His disciples. They wanted to challenge His teachings and His leadership because Jesus’ disciples were not following the people’s traditions. However, Jesus quickly took the offensive and rebuked them. He was telling them when they follow man’s doctrine (man-made traditions and customs) instead of following God’s doctrine (which is revealed to us in His word). They were basically saying that God’s doctrine was null and void. Jesus was teaching the people that whenever this type of situation happens, a religious person is being hypocritical. In fact, at that point and time, they are worshiping God solely with their mouths instead of with their hearts (Matthew 15:8). This is a huge problem in our churches but most of all, it is a huge problem within ourselves.
We cannot continue to live a life full of traditions and customs that go against what God has already revealed to us. We cannot teach doctrines and traditions made up by men instead of obeying what God has already commanded us. It does not matter how good it sounds or how good it makes you feel, obeying God should always be our number one priority as a believer. You see, the big problem of having additional laws (man-made doctrines or traditions) is that by following them we are inadvertently saying that what God has already revealed to us is not enough or is not complete. We are challenging God’s wisdom, which no man can ever do. No religion of man can ever improve upon what God has already revealed to us in His word. We are blessed that God spoke to the hearts of the prophets, the judges, and gave us the wisdom of His son Jesus Christ. This is not something that must be taken lightly, and yet somehow we all do this.
What the Holy Spirit is guiding this message to say is simple, we need to ask ourselves daily if what we are doing is following God’s word or a man-made tradition. However, this cannot be done or even identified if we keep a diet of drinking milk (not spiritually maturing by studying and applying God’s word in our lives). We need to feed our spirit daily. It is only then that we can identify when we are not obeying the will of God. We cannot have the discernment required in our hearts to change our habits or thoughts if we do not have a powerful prayer life. How else can we draw on the Holy Spirit to guide us? Simply put, we need to identify within ourselves if we are following doctrine or tradition. We need to learn for ourselves instead of trusting what others tell us. We need to take a stake in our growth, if not, we are only fooling ourselves otherwise.
Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that you fill us with your discernment and convict any part of our life that needs to be changed. Father, I pray that you allow us the knowledge to know when we are following your will or the traditions of man. I pray that we can all be the generations to stand firm in your word instead of following other’s traditions for the sake of fitting in with the crowd of religious people. Father, as you called us out to be different, I pray that you provide us with the strength and grace to actually do it. Let us be a generation that does not challenge your Word but lives it. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen!