<< Previous | Index | Next >>
                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                  The Danger With Traditions (15:1-9)

INTRODUCTION

1. As Jesus went about preaching and teaching, He often ran afoul of
   the religious leaders over the matter of keeping traditions...
   a. E.g., plucking heads of grain on the Sabbath - Mt 12:1-8
   b. E.g., healing on the Sabbath - Mt 12:9-14
   c. E.g., eating with unwashed hands - Mt 15:1-9

2. In Mt 15:1-9, Jesus describes the danger of traditions at length...
   a. How keeping them can make void the very commands of God
   b. How keeping them can make our worship vain before God

3. Traditions are very important in some religions...
   a. In the Roman Catholic church, tradition is place on par with
      God's Word
      1) "It is an article of faith from a decree of the Vatican
         Council that Tradition is a source of theological teaching
         distinct from Scripture, and that it is infallible.  It is
         therefore to be received with the same internal assent of
         Scripture, for it is the word of God." - Catholic Dictionary,
         p. 41-42
      2) "Do you have to believe in Tradition?  Yes, because it is the
         Word of God and has equal authority with the Bible."
         - Catholic Catechism For Adults, p. 11
   b. Just about every Protestant church has its own traditions
      1) It is often the accepted traditions that distinguish between
         the denominations
      2) To be a member of a particular denomination, one must accept
         its traditions

4. In this study, we will address the following questions...
   a. What are traditions?
   b. Are traditions always wrong?
   c. If not, when does a tradition become sinful?

[Let's begin with...]

I. THE MEANING OF TRADITION

   A. THE WORD ITSELF...
      1. The Greek word is "paradosis", which means "giving over" or
         "handing down"
      2. It refers to teaching that is handed down either by word 
         (orally) or in writing

   B. AS UNDERSTOOD BY THE JEWS...
      1. It was often applied to the oral teachings of the elders 
         (distinguished elders from Moses on down)
      2. These traditions were often divided into three classes...
         a. Some oral laws supposedly given by Moses in addition to the
            written laws
         b. Decisions of various judges which became precedents in
            judicial matters
         c. Interpretations of highly respected rabbis which were held
            in reverence along with the OT scriptures
         -- Article on "Tradition", ISBE
      3. Prior to his conversion, Paul was a staunch supporter of
         Jewish tradition - Ga 1:13-14

   C. AS UNDERSTOOD BY ROMAN AND GREEK CATHOLICS...
      1. Their views appear to be parallel to that of the Jews
      2. What they consider "Tradition" is what they believe to be the
         teachings:
         a. Of Jesus or the apostles, persevered orally rather than
            through writing
         b. Of various councils which have left various decrees
         c. Of various church leaders (such as the pope) considered to
            be inspired with later revelations from God
      3. Of course, one is expected to take their word for it that
         these "traditions" were truly from God and have been 
         faithfully transmitted

   D. AS FOUND IN THE SCRIPTURES...
      1. The word "tradition" as such is not found in the Old Testament
      2. It is found thirteen times in New Testament
         a. Three times it refers to "apostolic teaching"
            1) That which had been delivered by the apostles - 1Co 
               11:2
            2) Whether by word (in person) or epistle - 2Th 2:15
            3) Which Christians were expected to keep - 2Th 3:6
         b. Ten times it refers to "the tradition of the elders" or
            "the traditions of men"
            1) As in our text and parallel passages - Mt 15:2-6; Mk 7:
               3-13
            2) Of which Paul warned the Colossians - Col 2:8
            3) From which Jewish Christians had been delivered 
               (including Paul) - 1Pe 1:18; Ga 1:14
      3. Jesus did not feel bound to abide by "the traditions of the
         elders"
         a. Some traditions He had no problem keeping
            1) Such as going to a wedding feast - Jn 2:1-2
            2) Or attending the Feast Of Dedication - Jn 10:22-23
         b. But He just as easily had no problem with violating other
            traditions
            1) Plucking grain or healing on the Sabbath
            2) Eating with unwashed hands
         c. Evidently Jesus did not subscribe to the view of 
            "traditions" handed down orally
            1) He never appealed to the traditions of the elders
            2) He either appealed to the authority of the written Word
               (the Law of Moses), or to His own authority as the Son
               of God
   
[Not all "traditions" are wrong.  When they are teachings inspired of
God, given and "written" by men approved of God, they are to be heeded.
But when they are doctrines or interpretations handed down by 
uninspired men, then like the traditions of the Jews they are suspect.

As we return to our text (Mt 15:1-9), Jesus points out...]

II. THE DANGER OF TRADITIONS OF MEN

   A. THEY CAN MAKE VOID THE WORD OF GOD...
      1. Jesus gave the example of honoring one's parents - Mt 15:3-6
         a. The tradition of the elders taught giving to the temple
            freed one from giving to his or her parents
         b. Thus rendering the command of God of no effect
      2. There are traditions of men today with similar affect
         a. Such as the practice of sprinkling for baptism, a tradition
            of man
         b. When one keeps the tradition of sprinkling, they make the
            command of God to be baptized (immersed) of no effect!
      3. Through keeping such traditions, one is actually rejecting the
         command of God! - cf. Mk 7:8-9

   B. THEY CAN LEAD TO VAIN WORSHIP...
      1. When traditions of men are taught on the same level as the
         commands of God, it leads to vain worship - Mt 15:9
      2. Such worship may appear to be impressive, but it in actually
         "empty, worthless"
         a. First, because God did not command it
         b. Second, because it does not accomplish the good we really
            need - cf. Col 2:20-23

   C. THEY CAN LEAD TO HYPOCRITICAL WORSHIP...
      1. Traditions of men tend toward ritualism (just look at the 
         rituals found in many religions that have no scriptural basis)
      2. Such ritualism is often done repeatedly, with little thought
         as to its origin and purpose
      3. It is easy to go through such rituals, with the heart and mind
         on other things
      4. Worship without the heart (or mind) of man is hypocritical
         worship! - Mt 15:7-8

CONCLUSION

1. What are traditions?
   a. They are simply teachings that have been handed down
   b. In the case of inspired men (like the apostles) given in person
      or through their writings, such traditions are good and to be 
      followed

2. In the case of oral transmissions, given through a chain of 
   uninspired men, traditions are at best suspect...
   a. Jesus did not hold the "traditions" orally transmitted through
      the Jews on par with God's written word
   b. Neither should we hold "traditions" orally transmitted through
      Christians on par with God's written word

3. At worst, traditions of men can be vain and deadly...
   a. When their observance leads one to not keep a command of God
   b. When they are taught as doctrine, on par with God's word
   c. When they lead to ritualism, done without engaging the heart and
      mind of man

From Jesus' words, let us be aware of "The Danger With Traditions", and
make sure that our faith and practice is based upon the written Word of
God, not the interpretations and teachings of uninspired men!
<< Previous | Index | Next >>


Home Page
Have A Bible Question? | Want A Free Bible Study Course? | Looking For A Church Near You?
Want To Talk With Someone By Phone? | Want To Discuss The Bible By Email?
Search The Outlines

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

eXTReMe Tracker