Volume VII, Number 18
In this issue:
--have only bread and
honey than to have dread and money.
-Larry Ray Hafley (Guardian of Truth, Jan. 5, 1995, 4)
Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ (Matthew 15:7-9)
A fundamental problem of the Pharisees was their binding of human traditions upon men as essential in order to correctly obey the word of God. By binding their traditions they thought they were obeying and serving God, and teaching others to do the same. Let me illustrate.
The law of God said, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work…” (Exo. 20:8-10) The Law of Moses gave limited regulations concerning the definition of “work” on the Sabbath day (cf. Exo. 20:8-11; 35:3); the traditions of the scribes and Pharisees greatly expanded these. In their zeal to obey the law of God, the Pharisees constructed many binding traditions upon themselves and others concerning what it meant not to work on the Sabbath. Consider the following:
(1) When the disciples of Jesus plucked grain and ate it on the Sabbath, the Pharisees charged them with “doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath” (Matt. 12:2). Yet, Jesus showed that they condemned the guiltless and failed to know the Scriptures that taught mercy (Matt. 12:7). Keeping the Sabbath day holy by refraining from work did not restrict Israelites from showing kindness and mercy on that day. But, the traditions of the Pharisees did.
(2) Because a man carried his bed on the Sabbath he was told his action was “not lawful” (Jno. 5:10). In truth, it was only unlawful because it violated the human traditions that had grown up around what constitutes “work” on the Sabbath!
(3) Jesus was regarded as a Sabbath breaker worthy of death because He healed that same man on the Sabbath (Jno. 5:17-18). He broke their traditions about the Sabbath; He did not break the Sabbath. He exposed their hypocritical judging by appearance in John 7:22-24 by showing that the law of God allowed the work of circumcision on the Sabbath. Plus, the law allowed the showing of mercy on the Sabbath (Matt. 12:7; Hos. 6:6). They failed to judge righteously about Him and His work because they had exalted their traditions above the word of God.
You see, the Pharisees demanded that the only way one could properly keep the Sabbath was to regulate their activities on the Sabbath according to the traditions they gradually developed about it.
This problem has not gone away. There are still those who, in their zeal for God, have accepted human traditions and bound them as necessary in order to properly obey God. Some, in their zeal for reverence toward God, press for the use of thee and thou when addressing God in prayer. Some say that prayer is only approved when certain formulas are spoken or certain postures assumed. Similar traditions have been bound by some concerning how to baptize a person “in the name of Jesus”. Some bind one container when drinking “the cup” of the Lord’s Supper and no separate Bible classes. Some bind the KJV as the only acceptable translation of the Bible to use today.
Is insisting upon only vocal music in worship to God to be viewed in the same light as binding the traditions of men? No, for God’s word has specified the kind of music He will accept from worshippers; vocal music (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Jas. 5:13). There is a Bible pattern that establishes approved music in worship, thereby disapproving all others (Gal. 1:6-9). We are not binding human traditions when we insist on following the Scriptural pattern for approved music in worship (Col. 3:17; cf. Heb. 8:4).
We must learn to distinguish between the traditions of men which may indeed “have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion” but which “are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh,” and the doctrine of Christ which we must abide in to have fellowship with God (Col. 2:20-23; 2 Jno. 9).
May we all offer up the prayer of the apostle, “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:9-11).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
The Day of Christ's Return
Scripture Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
2 Pet. 3:3-4 – The promise of His coming is mocked & scoffed at, minimized & rejected. Its certainty rests upon the integrity of God’s word (3:5, 7) & Christ’s promise (Jno. 14:1-3).
I. THE LAST DAY
– Jno. 12:48.
DAY – Jno. 11:23-26.
JUDGMENT DAY – Acts 17:31.
IV. THE RECKONING DAY
– 2 Cor. 5:10.
DAY–2 Pet. 3:7, 10-12
DAY – 1 Cor. 15:23-24.
Are you ready for that day to come?
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Exhort the Young Men
Scripture Reading: 1 John 2:8-14
Titus 2:6 – Young men exhorted to soberness.
I. THE BLESSINGS OF YOUTH
– Prov. 20:29 (splendor, excellence).
II. REASONS YOU
MUST MASTER THE FLESH & LIVE BY FAITH.
III. SET THE EXAMPLE TO THE BELIEVERS
– 1 Tim. 4:12.
Ignored due to Exaggeration
Kendel Ehrlich, wife of Maryland governor Robert Ehrlich, tried to express her disgust over the negative influence of entertainers on our youth. Her off the cuff remark at a domestic violence prevention conference got a good deal of media attention over the past week when she said, “Really, if I had an opportunity to shoot Britney Spears, I think I would.” Needless to say, her exaggeration for emphasis was not well taken, and she has now apologized to Britney Spears.
Let me be clear: Britney Spears should not be shot. We do agree with Mrs. Ehrlich’s intended point (which was lost in the outcry over her statement itself) that many entertainers contribute to the moral degradation of society; Britney Spears included. Little girls should not be encouraged to dress, talk and dance like Spears or most other of the pop music icons of the day. That goes for guys imitating male entertainers, too. Messages of sex, violence and disrespect for life and authority are nothing new in the music and entertainment world. But that does not mean we should ignore it. It is not getting better. We should see its real threat to society and souls instead of disregarding it or brushing its influence aside as inconsequential. Satan uses power tools to influence, infect and infiltrate the hearts of young and old alike. “Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits (morals, ASV). Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” (1 Cor. 15:33-34)
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 10/18/2003
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA