Christian Living

Don’t Elevate Human Traditions Over God’s Commands

We Must Reform Our Behaviors Through the Lens of Scripture

In the Bible we see example after example of Jesus extending love, grace, and mercy to people, especially those who are searching, who don’t fit in, and who the religious leaders reject.

There’s only one group of people who Jesus regularly criticizes. Who might that be? Yep. It’s the religious leaders, especially the Pharisees who value their human traditions and practices.

Human Traditions

One time Jesus sarcastically affirms their excellence in elevating their own human traditions above God’s commands (Mark 7:9). Then he gives them an example.

From a safe distance of our perspective some two millennia later, it’s easy to see their hypocrisy.

It’s easy to shake our heads in dismay and boldly affirm that we would never do such a thing.

But we do. Every day.

It’s just that it’s hard for us to see our shortcomings when we elevate our human traditions over biblical commands. It’s as hard for us to see our hypocrisy now as it was for the Pharisees to see theirs two thousand years ago.

And I say us, because I include myself. To claim I’m impervious to this problem would be to confirm a bit of self-righteous arrogance.

What Does the Bible Say?

Though I’m not immune to placing human traditions, spiritual practices, and religious customs above what the Bible teaches, I’m always on the lookout for my failings. Please join me in this search.

We must look at everything we do with a critical eye. We must ask, “Why?”

Why do we do what we do? When it comes to church, the unexamined answer is that we’ve always done it that way. But that doesn’t make it right.

As we look at our practices, we must do so through the lens of Scripture. Does the Bible support—truly support—what we do? In many cases it doesn’t. Much of what we do on Sunday has strayed from what God commanded and Jesus desired.

Yes, we can prooftext about anything to support our actions. But that doesn’t make it right. It just gives us a smug satisfaction to ease our guilt for falling short of what God has in mind for us.

We must scrutinize everything we do through the lens of Scripture. The goal isn’t to justify the status quo of our human traditions but to reform our behavior.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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