God’s Outsiders: The Called-Out Ones (A Biblical Look at God’s Ecclesia), Part 23

A Light View of Religious Tradition

Religious tradition can be a very dangerous thing. It can nullify the effect of the Word of God. It blinds us from seeing the actual truth of His Word. Believers have too long taken a light view of religious tradition.

Noah Webster defines tradition as “that which is handed down from age to age; the act of delivering into the hands of another.”[1] Likewise, James Strong defines it as “transmission.”[2] Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles, warns the believer against these traditions of men.

And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words … Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ (Colossians 2:4, 8).

Man’s religious traditions are dangerous opponents to the truth.

Making the Word of God of none effect through your tradition, which you have delivered: and many such like things you do (Mark 7:13).

Paul, himself, had been caught up in tradition.

… being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers (Galatians 1:14).

Could not this statement made by Paul have been made by many of us? Have we not been exceedingly zealous of the traditions of “our fathers?”

Have you ever questioned the traditions that we so willingly have followed? Why do we do the religious things that we do? Have we ever traced their origins?[3] Should we not, then, follow our apostle, abandoning such man-made bondage?

Try this: the next time that you do something “spiritual,” something “for the Lord,” ask yourself why you do it. From where is its origin?

Now, be forewarned, this pathway will not be an easy one. The religious crowd will surely object to a lifestyle free from religious tradition. Most of the opposition will likely come from your closest friends and family members who are blinded by these very traditions of men, traditions from which you seek and have found freedom.

Be encouraged! Jesus Himself faced the same opposition and challenge from the traditionalists of His day.

Then came to Jesus Scribes and Pharisees … saying, “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the Elders?” … But He answered and said unto them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? … Thus have you made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition … In vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:1-3, 9).

Be careful taking religions traditions lightly.

If we choose to abandon our own religious traditions, I’d say we’d be in good company with Paul, and with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2000, 2009


[1]Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828.
[2]James Strong, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.
[3]For assistance in tracing common “Christian” practices see Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola (available through http://www.StudyShelf.com – 1-800-784-6010).

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2 Comments on “God’s Outsiders: The Called-Out Ones (A Biblical Look at God’s Ecclesia), Part 23”

  1. Tom Ferguson Says:

    I think that when many people leave an ‘older’ ecclesiastical tradition, for what they believe to be the ‘truth’; which, they have discovered in a ‘newer’ one, they may often fail to recognize that the cornerstones of error, which were the effectual instruments of bondage under girding the ‘older’ are very present within the ‘newer’. There are many examples but I give just two. First, the doctrine of eternal torment. Secondly, the idea of them as being the sole body of truth.

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  2. Tom Ferguson Says:

    And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words … Beware lest any man (spoil) you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ (Colossians 2:4, 8). I have bracketed the word “spoil” in the exert from the quote above in order to bring attention to the weight of the warning given here. Note the word ‘beware’ which goes before it. Perhaps it could be understood in the sense of the singular “DANGER”, which we often see posted. The word ‘spoil’ can usually be taken in three senses. First in the sense of the effect on a child (usually) of a doting and over lenient adult who allow it to have it’s own way at all times and shower lavishly upon it. Secondly of milk gone sour or of fruit turned rotten or an end set awry. Thirdly of the actions engaged in by conquerors akin to pillage and ravish.To make one a ‘spoil'(as we are often warned is the end of ‘tradition’ esp. of the Jew’s flavor.) In E.W. Bullinger’s lexicon, he notes that the ‘you’ here is emphatic, and the verb in the future tense implies ‘present danger’ more than mere possibility. The sense of the word spoil itself is given as ‘to lead you off as a prey’.

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