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Establishing Biblical Traditions

(Mark 7:1-13; 2 Thessalonians 2:15 - 3:6)

Lesson 2 -- third quarter 2005
June 12, 2005

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2005, Christian Light Publications

Probing Your Own Heart

Is your heart in your Christian practice?

Is Jesus the purpose and power behind your Christianity?

Building on Some Foundational Concepts

The master is accountable for the performance of those in his training.

The Pharisees held Jesus to account for the actions of His disciples. Though we cannot excuse their attitude and motivation, we must recognize that the Pharisees did have some ground on which to stand. The performance of the disciple does reflect on his master. How does your life reflect on Jesus?

God wants our hearts before He wants our honor.

In their pursuit of godliness, the Pharisees failed to genuinely consider God. Does God figure any more prominently in your own pursuit of godliness? Our focus always must be Jesus, not what we are doing for Jesus. Otherwise, our hearts shall drift from Him just as surely as did the hearts of the Pharisees.

Our traditions must not lead us to by-pass the Bible.

Our commitment must be to God and, therefore, to His Word. Without that commitment, our Christian living and teaching will turn to a cold, powerless form without godliness. We will have laid aside, rejected, and made of none effect God's own Word in favor of our own traditions and values. Pray "that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified" (2 Thessalonians 3:1).

Christian living requires dependence on Christ.

How contrary to logic to leave Christ out of the Christian! Yet how natural for the flesh to bend toward that kind of living. "Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father...stablish you in every good word and work. And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God" (2 Thessalonians 2:16,17; 3:5).

Questions and Responses

Our lesson text presents positive and negative traditions -- how do we distinguish them?

"This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me" (Mark 7:6). When we observe a tradition (or practice a doctrine or live an application) solely for outward show and not from the heart, we mock God. We can allow tradition to become a mere form, a duty we perform with no thought of God. Even our singing can degenerate to that level, becoming the vain worship so despised by God.

"Laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men" (Mark 7:8). A tradition can so absorb us that we disregard what the Bible teaches. This can happen quite unintentionally. God forbid we should ever allow any tradition to displace a zeal for knowing and obeying God's will as shown in His Word.

"Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition" (Mark 7:13). Some people, in their commitment to tradition, purposefully set aside what God Himself has to say about a given matter. For them what the Bible says does not matter anymore; they deem tradition to supersede what the Bible declares. Other people, with similar zeal for tradition, allow themselves to become that hard soil in which God's Word cannot sprout and develop into a fruitful plant. For them tradition has become the means and purpose of spirituality; they can no longer respond to the Scriptures.

The basic problem isn't with tradition but with our own flesh. When we allow God to create a new heart within us and daily renew our spirits, we will use (and respond to) tradition in a way that brings glory to the All Glorious One. So treasure the godly traditions you have . . . but keep a watch over your heart!

How do I effectively keep watch over my heart?

"O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!" (Deuteronomy 5:29).

"My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments" (Proverbs 3:1).

"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23,24).

"Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak" (Mark 14:38).

"The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide" (Psalm 37:31).

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).

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