“Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?” (Matthew 15:2). Sounds like a reasonable question until one realizes that the traditions in question originated with humans outside the authority of God’s Word. It is unfortunate that many religious people today cling to and adamantly defend religious traditions of human origin.

The only way to know that what one does religiously is pleasing to God is to find a place in His revelation that directly states, gives an approved example of, or divinely implies His approval. How else could one possibly know what pleases God? Were it not revealed, all humanity would be at a loss for what God desires of His creation and left to their own devices and opinions. Therefore, as regards our worship and service, without such permission or authorization, every word or act is blessed or cursed by the fact that we can know God accepts it, and find where He says so.

When Jesus was asked about His conduct, which flew in the face of the then prevailing traditions, He pointed out the error of their traditions (Matthew 15:8-9). Just because something has been done for a long time, having become a tradition, does not mean it is acceptable to God; it just means that “something” has been done for a long time and, without divinely revealed authority, it is an exercise in error. Ironically, it is this very longevity factor, which defines “tradition,” that seems to be the cause of an unwillingness to discard a vain practice or conduct. What an acceptable child of God says and does is what God has revealed for him or her to say and do (Colossians 3:17).

Of course, bucking tradition can be a thorny pursuit. Ultimately, it got Jesus crucified. Ironically, people respond similarly today – tell them the truth and provide them with a verifying verse and the railing begins. Such is the choice set before the Christian; and the response will determine one’s eternity. Do we obey what God has revealed or do we go with traditions? It makes an eternal difference.