Tradition is a comfortable thing for many of us because it’s familiar and holds no unwelcome surprises. In the physical realm, we find reassurance in doing things the way we’ve become accustomed to doing them, but in the spiritual realm, we must be careful that traditional thoughts and ideas don’t pull us away from the truth found in the Scriptures. Worldly philosophies don’t agree with the word of God.
The “we’ve always done it this way” mindset is resistant to change, and individuals succumbing to this type of thinking run the risk of becoming stagnant. Some people are proud of this mindset, and there are even churches that boast about their own traditions. The Bible warns us about this danger. “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 2:8).
The problem with blindly adhering to tradition is that tradition can be based on surface appearances and what others think. Strict adherence to tradition can also lead people to obsess over rituals and disregard motives and the condition of people’s hearts. During his earthly ministry, Jesus had run-ins with the religious leaders of the day. “Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, ‘Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?’ He answered and said to them, ‘Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.’ He said to them, ‘All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. Making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do” (Mark 7:5-9, 13, NKJV).
Today’s traditional religious doctrines are widely accepted and highly popular, yet we must ask ourselves if they contradict what God says. When we blindly accept what we hear without comparing it to the Scriptures, we don’t benefit from God’s promises. “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Hebrews 4:2). God’s word is available to everyone, but worldly traditions block the faith required to receive what he has for us. Believing religious dogma can lead to wrong ideas about sin, grace, and the authority of the believer, and keep us from living a powerful life.
The world encourages us to settle comfortably into the traditions handed down from previous generations, but doing so dulls our spiritual senses (Ezekiel 12:2). God calls us to move out of our comfort zone and follow his prompting. This is a scary proposition for some because it involves facing the unknown and trusting him.
God is talking to us all the time, but his voice can be drowned out if we cling to tradition. Breaking away from it takes courage, but we needn’t be afraid when we see God’s word diverging from religious tradition as we know it. We can choose whether we follow him, or worldly philosophies (Joshua 24:15). In these end times, it’s important to choose wisely.