The Hypocritical Traditions of Men: Sponges – Mark 7:6-8

Vol. 2, No. 36 – 9-3-2017

Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “This people honors Me with their lips, but in vain do they worship Me, teaching doctrines the precepts of men.” Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.  Mark 7:6b-8

Do you ever contemplate how things were as you were growing up? Perhaps your family was a “church-going” family. That would most likely include some traditions:

  • Saturday you laid out your clothes for Sunday morning
  • You shined your shoes and made sure your Bible was put with your “stuff”
  • You took a shower/bath on Saturday evening, or raced to the shower early on Sunday morning
  • You did a final review of your Sunday School/LifeGroup lesson
  • You made sure you had money for the offering
  • On Sunday you attended Sunday School/LifeGroup AND the worship service
  • After church your family hurried to beat the Methodists (or another church denomination) to the cafeteria in town

That is the way it was—it is called tradition and expectations. It is the custom, belief, and lifestyle of generations. In fact, one’s feeling of religious well-being is measured in punctuality and consistency in meeting the expectations of the church. The traditions are not to be compromised. The traditions became rituals. The thought was that rituals had to be fulfilled or no blessings would come your way.

Yet, Jesus pulls people aside to make sure they understood that what is important is to submit to the “pure Word of God.” Interesting how expectations of the church function today. Every church has a list of rules or regulations, often unpublished, indicating that they are biblical mandates. It is an effort at formalism, developing traditions—all with the effort to have members observe and obey. Some churches are too busy establishing new traditions or “worship” experiences to think of the welfare of their members and guests–opting for entertainment rather that the pure Word of God.

Now, just so you know, I still bathe—actually I take a shower on Sunday morning (as well as the other days of the week). This is not in view of traditionalism in the church. It is a part of my habits of life.

All that being said, we do need to have some habits. Some habits are good; some are not. A problem comes when we allow others to form the way we think, instead of engaging in critical thinking and/or critical reading. We need to become responsible for what we take in, and how we process it, and how we respond with it.

You do not have habits; habits have you!

I have experienced a number of educational years. From elementary to high school, from university undergraduate to seminary masters level, and from that level to the doctorate level. In my educational travels I have become acquainted with numbers of students that were like sponges. They absorbed what was put upon them, and they received their grades by squeezing their sponge to put down on paper whatever the teaching agent had spelled out. They did not process the learning to see if what was being taught was true; or if it simply was an eisegetic foray to a paying listening audience willing to accept whatever the teacher of record put forth.

Teaching doctrines from the precepts of men is not where real education takes place. One must be able to compare what is taught to absolute truths. There is no reasonable excuse for having a culture that cannot process what others are saying through comparison to absolute truths. Society becomes, then, squeezed sponges rather than an advancing culture that is truth driven.

Adults and leaders of all stripes are responsible for what they take in and for what they espouse to others. Critical reading and critical thinking are required; life lived as a sponge is not pleasant for eventually we sour and become useless. We cannot live as sponges.

If we are to be honest with ourselves, this is our responsibility. How are you doing in all this?

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority. Colossians 2:8-10

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September 3, 2017

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