GOOD TRADITION AND TRUE RELIGIONFrom The Heart
Publish date: 10/06/2002
13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, 14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. 16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 NKJV
The word “tradition” used here means a teaching, a transmission, an ordinance or a precept. Paul is telling the Thessalonians – and us - that they need to continue to follow the teachings they received from Paul, himself, and the other disciples and apostles. He is also recommending that they follow the example that they set before them.
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. Colossians 2:6-8 NIV
The teachings and traditions that we are taught by the Holy Spirit and recorded in the Bible are teachings and traditions that bring us into liberty and not into bondage. It is the hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world that lead us into bondage. Whenever people depart from the Word of God and begin to make up their own minds about how things are, that is when they – and everyone who listens to them – get into trouble.
Paul encourages the Colossians – and us - to grow in the things of God when he says, “Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him.” Just as we came into an intimate relationship with Jesus when we were born anew from above, so we must remain close to Him and intimate with Him, coming to know Him more and more every day. We must be rooted in Him and built up in Him alone and not in man’s tradition. We must continue to be strengthened in the faith just as we have been taught. We must maintain an attitude of gratitude and be overflowing with thankfulness.
5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, "Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with `unclean' hands?" 6 He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: "`These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men.' 8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men." Mark 7:5-8 NIV
There is good tradition and there is bad tradition. The important thing to remember is that we are to love God with all our hearts and honor Him always, in everything. As long as we remain humble and allow God’s work in our hearts, we will stay on the right path. It is human arrogance that will lead you into deception – thinking that we can make up our own rules whilst we ignore God’s rules.
26 If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:26-27 NIV
Our religion - our worship – is in vain if we do it our own way and not God’s way. True religion – worship – is to keep a tight rein on our tongue, to care about other people and to continue to follow the Word of God and the Spirit of God. We live in this world, but we must not allow ourselves to be polluted by the world. We must allow the Word and the Spirit to lead us, guide us, direct us and keep us. The most important thing to remember is that it is God alone, Whom we must please and God alone, Whom we must honor – with all our hearts, at all times, every day and in every way!