DCLM Search The Scripture 11 September 2022 (Adult) | Lesson 36 | Christ Exalts God’s Commandment Over Traditions
DCLM Search The Scripture 11 September 2022 (Adult)
Deeper Life Search The Scripture 11th September 2022
ADULT STS LESSON 36 – CHRIST EXALTS GOD’S COMMANDMENT OVER TRADITIONS
MEMORY VERSE: “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8,9).
TEXT: Matthew 15:1-39
DCLM Search The Scripture 11 September 2022 (Adult) MESSAGE
The previous study focused on the demise of John the Baptist, the miraculous feeding of multitudes by our Lord Jesus Christ with mere five loaves and two fishes and Peter’s empowerment to walk on the sea by faith. In this study, we shall examine how the Pharisees in Jesus’ day perfected the habit of misrepresenting and substituting God ‘s word with their ideas and preferences. They prided themselves in mere external religious observances rather than strict adherence to His commandments.
Seeking men’s admiration and acceptance rather than God’s approval, they sought to redefine true religion and worship. But Christ, the Author of true religion and worship, laid out what is acceptable to God. This study, therefore, underscores the preeminence and primacy of God’s word over established practices of human institution and religious leaders.
THE EVIL OF MAGNIFYING HUMAN TRADITION ABOVE GOD’S WORD (Matthew 15:1-9; 7:3; 23:25; Exodus 20:12; 21:17; Deuteronomy 27: 16; Revelation 22:18, 19; Romans 10:1-13; Matthew 5:18; 1 John 2:17)
The scribes and Pharisees made themselves perpetual antagonists of the Lord. They accused His disciples of eating with unwashed hands contrary to their tradition, “saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread.” From their accusation, it is obvious that they were critical and censorious. Their interest was not the defence of God’s word and glory but their tradition.
To point out what is wrong or contrary to the word of God is not out of place (it is even encouraged and instructed in the Scripture and often attracts divine approval if done with humility and sincerity – (Leviticus 19: 17; Galatians 6:1). But the Pharisees’ action fell short of scriptural standard. They magnified other people’s fault while they closed their eyes to theirs. The Scripture says, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” (Matthew 7:3). DCLM Search The Scripture 11 September 2022 (Adult)
To understand the Pharisees better, we need to know who they are. They belonged to a strict sect within Judaism, which came into prominence during the inter-testament period in the second century B.C. They were formalists and fanatics who often put on a ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude. They appeared righteous in their own eyes while they despised and disdained others. The Pharisees were hypocrites who appeared outwardly moral and righteous (Matthew 23:25).
The scribes, on the other hand, were called lawyers and teachers of the law. They were theorists of the law which the Pharisees aimed to obey religiously. They were also record-keepers, theologians and jurists who specialised in copying out the law for the people. Ezra, a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, was a scribe (Ezra 7:6).
Rather than answer the question on “the tradition of the elders”, the Lord asked, “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition” (Matthew 15:3-6).
Jesus pointed out the priority and superiority of the law of God over traditions of men. In support of His assertion He gave an example of the violation of the fifth Law of Moses by their tradition. The Law of Moses taught people to respect and care for their parents but the Jews had added a tradition that enabled them to ignore them. By their tradition, they contradicted the plain teaching of the law and made the commandment of God of none effect (Mark 7:9-13). DCLM Search The Scripture 11 September 2022 (Adult)
It is unscriptural for believers not to respect and take care of their parents, especially when they are old. The Bible says, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee” (Exodus 20:12). The truth is, tradition, popular idea, cultural norm or pharisaic attitude can make people religious but not righteous, sanctimonious but not saved, hypocritical but not holy, legalistic but not loving and traditional but not transformed.
Christ called the Pharisees and Sadducees “hypocrites” who draw near God with “their mouth, and honoureth [Him] with their lips; but their heart is far from [Him]”. Their religious worship and service were worthless in the sight of God; He said, “in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men”. Those whose religion is a hybrid of tradition and Christianity, who combine superstition, fetish rites, taboos and norms with regular church service, deceive themselves.
Adding human traditions to God’s law or removing any portion of the Holy Writ adulterates it and incurs His wrath (Revelation 22: 18, 19). Paul warns against giving heed to “Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth…” (Titus 1:14). Those who exalt tradition above the word of God lack genuine spiritual experiences of salvation, sanctification and Christlike living required for entry to heaven. They will not only perish but also cause their followers to be damned.
DCLM Search The Scripture 11 September 2022 (Adult) | Lesson 36
It is unfortunate that many professing believers still live or act like the Pharisees. They, one, excuse in themselves what they condemn in others; two, lord their personal lifestyle or opinion over others, claiming that it is the word of God; three, condemn those who sincerely need spiritual help; four, prefer establishing their own righteousness rather than the righteousness of Christ; five, love the praise of men more than that of God; six, focus on the external rather than internal transformation. The same judgment that Christ pronounced on the Pharisees of His day awaits their present-day counterparts.
EXPLANATION AND APPLICATION OF THE PREEMINENT WORD (Matthew 15:10-20; Colossians 2:18-22; Isaiah 29:13,14; Proverbs 4:23; 1 Corinthians 8:8,9; 10:20-22; Ezekiel 33:31,32; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Acts 15:29)
Christ invited the multitudes to hear and understand the explanation and application of the preeminent Word, which the religious leaders of His day tried to corrupt. He said, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.” Christ reveals here that the defilement the Pharisees ought to fear was not what entered their mouths as food, but what came out from their mouths. The Lord taught Peter the same truth in a vision before he went to preach in the house of Cornelius (Acts 10:9-16).
Having revealed from the prophecy of Isaiah earlier that the hearts of the Pharisees and Sadducees were “far” from God, He now emphasises the corruption in their hearts and those of all men, which highlights the need for transformation. Unfortunately, they took Offence instead of seeking salvation and cleansing from these defilements that always manifested in their attitudes to the Lord and towards others.
Like the Pharisees, some contemporary Christians stifl frown at rebuke or correction from their faithful leaders. Such incorrigibility or hardness of heart attracts divine judgment (Proverbs 29:1). “But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up” (Matthew 15:13). DCLM Search The Scripture 11 September 2022 (Adult)
The Church is the vineyard of the Almighty and every vine is planted for a purpose. Christ made it clear that whatever and whoever Would compromise His word and purpose for the Church through addition or subtraction from His word will be uprooted. All Christian servants must be watchful to identify and expunge doctrines, beliefs, teachings and religious practices that are false.
Though we must not judge people for what they eat, we are not at liberty to eat just anything. “But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak” (1 Corinthians 8:8,9).
It will be wrong and unscriptural for a believer to consume alcohol or take hard drug under the guise that one is not defiled by what comes into the mouth. The Scripture declares that our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost. “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Corinthians 3: 17).
The Bible also forbids believers from eating foods sacrificed to idols. “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils…” (1 Corinthians 10:20-22). DCLM Search The Scripture 11 September 2022 (Adult)
BENEFITS OF SINCERE WORSHIPPERS AND SEEKERS OF THE TRUTH (Matthew 15:21-39; Mark 7:24-37; 8:1-9; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; John 15:3; Hebrews 13: 8)
Though the scribes and Pharisees who came to Christ in the text were adherents and defenders of human tradition and were unwilling to heed His word and be transformed, there were many other sincere worshippers and seekers of the truth in the text. God is always pleased with those who gladly receive His word. The Word transforms as well as builds the lives of sincere seekers and sets them free from bondage to sin and Satan.
The truth received produces faith for victoriousnliving and miracles. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). God always manifests His presence and power in the lives of sincere worshippers and seekers of the truth (John 14:21). Christ went to the coasts of Tyre and Sidon where a Syrophenician woman besought Him to heal her daughter of demonic possession. Her persistent cry, reverence, confession of faith in the lordship of Christ and admission of her unclean lifestyle brought the needed miracle.
Following this incident, Christ went to a mountain near the sea of Galilee where “great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them” (Matthew 15:30). These multitudes were amazed at the miracles and “glorified the God of Israel”. These were not just half-hearted seekers as they continued to hear the teachings of Christ for three days without food. DCLM Search The Scripture 11 September 2022 (Adult)
Christ said, “I have compassion on the multitude… lest they faint in the way’ (verse 32). Thus, He multiplied seven loaves and a few little fishes to feed four thousand men beside women and children. Christ is still the same. He is the Source of spiritual and physical needs of every individual, family, multitude of people or assembly of those who exalt His word above the traditions of men. He is our Saviour, Healer and Provider. Sincere and wholehearted seekers of His redemptive benefits will always have cause to glorify God.
Questions for review:
1. Who were the scribes and Pharisees?
2. Why are we forbidden from adding or subtracting from the Scriptures?
3. What are the characteristics of today’s Pharisees?
4. What lesson(s) can believers draw from the Way Jesus rebuked the Pharisees?
5. According to the teaching of Christ, what actually defiles a man?
6. Mention some traditions of men which believers must avoid.
7. What can believers learn from recipients of miracles in the text?
Thanks for reading DCLM Search The Scripture 11 September 2022 (Adult), Lesson 36