A Terrible Trade

Posted: January 6, 2014 in Mark

Mark 7:1-23, “A Terrible Trade”

Have you ever made a really bad trade?  As kids, we may have gotten sucked into the old “I’ll give you two dimes for that one quarter,” and gotten gypped.  Or like the old game show where the contestant traded in the prize they had for the unknown box, only to find that what was in the box stunk.  Some trades can turn out awful.

Other trades can turn out to have eternal consequences.  Such was the case with the Pharisees and scribes (and many other Jews) when they traded out the Scripture for their tradition.  The ancient Hebrews had been given the law of God very clearly, but over time they added to it here & there, to the point where they had replaced the law of God, substituting their tradition in its place.  That was the issue at work when the Pharisees confronted Jesus in this latest instance.

The gospel of Mark is going to start showing Jesus in conflict more & more often with the Pharisees as He wraps up His Galilean ministry and starts His trip to Jerusalem (and ultimately to the cross).  The Pharisees and scribes had conflicted with Jesus throughout His ministry, but the past several chapters have concentrated on His teaching & miracles around the Sea of Galilee.  Now all of this conflict is going to come back into focus as things start leading to His arrest, trial, and suffering upon the cross.

The issue in our text is two-fold: (1) what has authority, and (2) what is true purity?  Tradition is never a good trade for the truth, and corruption cannot be cleansed by men but only by the grace of God.

Mark 7:1–23
1 Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. 2 Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault.

  1. That the Pharisees and scribes came from “Jerusalem” is rather important.  Jerusalem is around 90 miles from Capernaum (on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee).  This was not a casual coincidental visit.  These were men of authority sent from the theological center of the nation who had come with the specific purpose to investigate Jesus.  Jesus was at the height of His popularity, and the leadership in Jerusalem probably thought they needed to stop this Galilean preacher before He caused trouble with the Romans.  At the very least, it’s evident that they believed they needed to investigate Jesus further.  What was happening with Jesus at the time was serious, and starting to call a lot of attention.  Many of the Jews in Galilee recently had a mind to attempt to take Jesus by force and make Him king – this was a situation that the Jerusalem scholars and leaders had to deal with.
  2. This isn’t the first time that Mark shows us Jesus being confronted by the Jerusalem leadership.  Back in Chapter 3, it was the “scribes who came down from Jerusalem” that accused Jesus of being an agent of the devil.  They said that it was by the power of Satan that Jesus was able to cast out demons (Mk 3:22).  In response, Jesus not only showed them the foolishness of their logic (because a house divided against itself cannot stand), but also warned them about a sin from which there is no forgiveness: the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.  No doubt the scribes and Pharisees did not easily forget that encounter!  This was Someone whom they believed they needed to discredit – especially as Jesus’ popularity grew by these leaps and bounds.  They came looking for trouble – they came looking to question Jesus and find “fault” with Him.
  3. And they found it in the disciples.  Although Jesus’ actions were not the actions of the disciples, culturally speaking the teacher was responsible for the students.  What the disciples did directly reflected upon their Master, and He was responsible for teaching them rightly.  If they caused offense, the Teacher was held liable.  What was the problem?  They didn’t wash their hands the right way.  Washing their hands when they ate was no doubt important.  In that culture (as many cultures today), they didn’t use forks & knives & other utensils; like virtually every other people group around the world at the time, they ate with their hands. …  Washing their hands simply for cleanliness was important, but that’s not the issue here, as Mark goes on to explain.

3 For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.

  1. The issue isn’t cleanliness; it’s holiness.  For them, it wasn’t being free of dirt; it was being free from sin.  Mark points that out when he says that “the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way.”  Most cultures would wash their hands in some way, but the Jews had a distinct way that they did it.  In fact, they still do.  In an article from “The Jewish Religion: A Companion” Rabbi Louis Jacobs writes, “The procedure is to pour water out from a cup or glass first twice over the right hand and then twice over the left hand–care being taken that the unwashed hands do not touch the water used for the washing. The hands are then dried with a towel before partaking of the meal. A benediction is recited over the washing of the hands: "Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with Thy commandments and has commanded us concerning the washing of the hands."”  He notes that observant Jews are to wash their hands before meals, after their meals, rising from sleep, and even prior to prayer.  For them, it is a way of cleansing themselves from that which is unclean in dedication unto God. 
  2. It’s with all of this cultural information about the Jews in mind (which Mark graciously provides to his Gentile readers) that the Pharisees and scribes confront Jesus.  See vs. 5…

5 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?”

  1. Question: were the Pharisees just being nit-picky here?  Or was there a legal foundation for their challenge?  The law of Moses is filled with statutes emphasizing the need for purity and holiness.  There were provisions for washing lepers who had been previously unclean (Lev 14:9).  There was required ceremonial purification after giving birth (Lev 12:2), after coming in contact with a dead body (Num 19), after having other various diseases (Lev 15), and more.  Physical cleanliness and purity is obviously seen as important in the law, though there was a reason for it, which was missed by the Pharisees (as Jesus will point out).  The important thing to note here is that the Pharisees and scribes were not concerned with the law.  They never accused the disciples of breaking the law of Moses, but not walking “according to the tradition of the elders.”  They were basically accusing Jesus of subverting their culture, as seen through the traditions.  Of course, the problem is obvious: tradition isn’t Scripture.  The word of man is vastly less important than the word of God, which is what Jesus is going to go on to address.
  2. Before we get there, one thing this shows us is the extent to which Jesus and the disciples DID keep the law.  For the Pharisees to accuse them of anything, they had to catch the disciples breaking tradition.  They couldn’t catch the disciples in outright sin and law-breaking…there wasn’t any!  They had come from Jerusalem to investigate Jesus, and no doubt they were looking at every act through the strictest lens.  They had always held Jesus under a microscope, as seen when they accused Him & the disciples of violating the Sabbath (Mk 2:23-28).  At the time, the disciples were just gleaning the fields as they strolled through, having a little Saturday snack.  The Pharisees were appalled and accused them of doing the work of reaping & threshing.  It was a ridiculous charge (no doubt they knew it), and Jesus called them out on it showing that the heart of the Sabbath was rest; not legalism.  The Pharisees had thrown out another legalistic charge this time as well, but now they didn’t even have the foundation of the Scripture to stand on.  The disciples were living according to the law, and the Pharisees could not find fault with that.
    1. As believers, we need do need to beware of legalism, but at the same time we need to be careful to live rightly.  We need to live our lives above reproach.  Just like the Pharisees of ancient times, there are many people today looking to find fault in Christians.  They want any excuse that they can find in order to justify their rejection of God.  Be careful not to give them one.  Christians are going to be reviled & mocked – that’s a given.  But if we are to be reviled, may we be reviled for the right reasons, as those who belong to Jesus Christ. (1 Pet 2:11-12, 3:16-17)
  3. Keep in mind that the tradition of the elders wasn’t necessarily bad; it just wasn’t the level of Scripture.  The law of Moses DID emphasize the need for purity through physical actions.  The traditions that developed from that gave a continual reminder of the holiness that God expects of His people.  Of course, the true purity that God expects can only come FROM God; never through an act of man!  That said, there’s nothing at all wrong with washing one’s hands.  There are all kinds of traditions we hold onto that are well & good, even as we realize they don’t hold the weight of Scripture.  The Jews had their hand washing, but Christians have our own traditions.  There’s nothing in the Bible stating that we need to display a cross in a church building, but most do.  There’s nothing in the Bible stating that we need to end our prayers with “in Jesus’ name,” but many of us do.  These are good ideas, but they are traditions.  Keep in mind the Pharisees weren’t even really referring to anything to do with temple worship or gathering at the synagogue.  They were looking at the way that the disciples of Jesus lived their lives as “good” Jews.  Just like a “good” Christian in the Bible belt is sometimes expected to have certain radio stations programed in on their car radio, or know certain lingo, or do any number of things that have absolutely nothing to do with being a born-again Christian, and everything to do with tradition and culture.  None of these things are bad, and some can be very edifying.  But we need to be careful that we do not impose what is good for us upon someone else.  (For example: I find it very beneficial to run 35-50 miles per week, and do additional cross-training 30 minutes a day, 6 days a week.  It has proven great for me, but it would kill someone else. J )  Where we get into legalism is when we take what is good for us – when we take a personal preference, and then raise it to the level of Scripture.  When we say that MY preference needs to be YOUR preference, and if not, you’re in sin.

6 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. 7 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

  1. Jesus responds to their accusation of breaking the tradition with the actual Scripture.  The disciples may have violated the word of man (Jesus neither agrees nor disagrees with the Pharisees on the actions of the disciples), but the Pharisees and scribes were fulfilling the word of God in their legalism and rebellion.  Quoted the LXX version: Isaiah 29:13, "Therefore the LORD said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men," [] Originally, the context spoke of the disobedience of Jerusalem and the judgment that God would pour out on it.  There would be a multitude of nations that would fight against Jerusalem, and although the nations themselves would be judged by the Lord, Jerusalem would still suffer in the meantime.  Yet they were blinded to God’s word & God’s judgment.  It was if they had the book of God’s prophecy right in front of them, but they couldn’t read it.  That’s when God proclaimed through Isaiah that the Jews honored Him with their lips, but not their hearts.  In the original text, they had a false fear of God – one that was taught by the commandments of men; not one that was borne out of true & sincere worship.  That’s bad enough.  Many people today go to church because it’s the “right” thing to do.  They say they are Christian because they are American.  These are things that are taught by the commandments of men; not because they have a true reverence and worship of God.  There may be lip-service towards God, but there is not heart-worship of Him.
    1. If that’s you, beware!  Wake up!  God knows our hearts, which ones are near & which ones are far.  Just because someone calls him/herself a Christian doesn’t mean that their hearts might not be far from the Lord.  You know your heart, and God knows your heart.  If you aren’t worshipping the Lord in spirit & truth (in sincerity through Jesus Christ), you know it…and God won’t be fooled by it either.  That is vain worship.  (It doesn’t need to stay that way!)
  2. The Pharisees had the actors’ mask on – they were “hypocrites.”  On the outside, they appeared to be pious & holy.  They had the pretense of religion about them and claimed to honor the One True God.  In reality, they didn’t worship the One True God from their hearts.  They paid no attention to what the Bible actually taught, but instead focused on their traditions and legalism.  If they had really paid attention to what the Bible said about purity, they would not have been focused on hand-washing, but heart-washing.  For all of the myriad of statutes in the Mosaic law regarding purity & worship, what it blazingly apparent through it all is the holiness of the heart.  THAT is what God desired.  At the heart of the law was the command to love God.  From that flowed everything else.  God desired a pure heart for His people – everything else was simply illustrative of it.  Micah 6:8, "He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?" []  If the Pharisees had really loved God, they would have known this.  If they had paid attention to the Scripture, this would have been apparent.  (And again, if this is you, it doesn’t need to be that way…)
  3. The original prophecy through Isaiah is bad enough, but Jesus quotes the LXX version validating what it said for that particular generation of Pharisees.  They had not just been taught an insincere worship of God through their traditions; they actually substituted the worship of God with their tradition, “teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”  Again, this is the essence of legalism.  They took the traditions and words of men, and elevated them up to the level of the word of God.  Whole denominations still do this today.  They attempt to put Scripture and tradition on the same level, saying that God has spoken through the Church just as equally as He has spoken through His word, and that the way we even know His word is through His Church.  That might sound logical until we realize that this is exactly what Jesus was referring to.  Tradition and Scripture cannot hold equal weight.  No one can serve two masters; one is naturally going to be more important than the other.  One is always going to be interpreted in light of the other – it cannot be helped.  We will either interpret our traditions in light of the Bible, or we will interpret the Bible through the lens of our traditions.  Which one carries more authority?  It must be the word of God!  Our traditions have to be subservient to the Scripture, or else we engage in the same error as the Pharisees.  We can affirm that the Church is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim 3:15) while at the same time affirming that the written word of God is our ultimate authority in all matters of faith and practice.  God uses the Church in wonderful miraculous ways, but what He speaks through the Church is not the same as what He has spoken through Scripture. (2 Tim 3:16-17)
  4. Beyond the elevation of the commandments of men was the rejection of the commandment of God.  See vs. 8…

8 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.” 9 He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.

  1. Again, the Bible and our traditions cannot share the same place of authority.  One is going to give way to the other.  In the case of the Pharisees, they had to lay “aside the commandment of God” in order to “hold the tradition of men.”  They went so far as to “reject the commandment of God,” preferring their “tradition” instead.  How foolish!  How sad!  They took what was good & invaluable & cast it aside for something that changes with the whims of culture.  Their tradition would change with time (even hand-washing), but the word of God would never change.  Yet they rejected the wisdom of God for the wisdom of men.
  2. The hand-washing was just one example.  Apparently there were “many.”  Jesus goes on to give one in verses 10-12.

10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’

  1. Jesus begins with the Scripture.  He actually quotes two aspects of the same law: the first is from the 10 commandments (stated in the positive – Exo 20:12), and the second is from the accompanying statutes (stated in the negative – Exo 21:17).  God’s word could hardly be clearer on the matter.  He expected His people to honor their parents.  So serious was this that to curse one’s parents was to incur a death penalty.  Why was this so important?  Because despite our imperfections, our earthly parents are a picture of our Heavenly Father.  To dishonor and reject our parents is an illustration of dishonoring and rejecting God.  And just like our rejection of God leads to a death sentence (the wages of sin is death), so the Hebrew’s cursing of his parents led to a death sentence.
  2. This all ought to have been fairly obvious and straightforward.  Just to read the Scripture without comment was enough for the Jew to know that honoring and caring for his/her parents was important.  Yet the Jewish scholars invented a loophole…

11 But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban”—’ (that is, a gift to God), 12 then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, 13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

  1. So imagine the parents getting older, and needing some support from their children.  They cannot go work their fields or business any longer, and there’s no social security around.  The only way of putting bread on the table is by their children helping them financially.  Yet instead of doing his share of helping his parents, one of their sons declare to them, “Sorry Dad, sorry Mom.  I’d love to give you grocery money, but all that extra money I have is dedicated to the Lord.”  The traditions of the Jews allowed a person to declare finances or possessions dedicated for God, and then those things could only be used in their worship of God.  In essence, the tradition gave the Jew an approved way of getting out of the commandment of God.  All they had to do to keep their money was to declare it dedicated to the Lord, and then they could keep the rest to themselves.
  2. How much did the tradition make “the word of God of no effect”?  Think about it: one of the most God-honoring uses of the son’s money would be to help support his parents.  That would be a very practical way of fulfilling the 5th Commandment.  Yet the loophole and tradition of “Corban” allowed him to circumvent the commandment completely.
  3. And again, apparently this wasn’t the only example. “And many such things you do.”  The OT law had 613 commandments. To look at a complete set of the Babylonian Talmud is to easily see a set of 20+ volumes…some go up to 73 depending on the print size.  There was MUCH added onto the Scriptures through the tradition of the Jews!  Keep in mind that all of this was done in order for the Jews to try to make themselves more holy.  They desired to be pure in the sight of God (which is a good thing), but the way they tried to do it was by their own efforts.  Because their efforts (and ours) don’t work, they had to do more & more & more.  There is no end to the work they needed to perform to make themselves righteous in the sight of God, so they had to keep adding on to their traditions along the way.
    1. There’s the rub.  We CAN’T make ourselves holy.  There’s no amount of work we can do that will make ourselves righteous in the sight of God.  We can scrub, wash, sacrifice, and even beat ourselves, but there is nothing we can do to perfectly cleanse ourselves from our sin.  We are called to be in a relationship with the Perfect God, and we are anything BUT perfect.  Something has to be done, but the problem is we can’t do it.  (Thankfully, Jesus can!)

14 When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand: 15 There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. 16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!”

  1. We aren’t told if the Pharisees and scribes had confronted Jesus privately (most likely, not), but there’s no doubt that Jesus gave a very public response.  He “called all the multitude to Himself” and taught what the real issue of purity was: internal corruption.  Getting back to the original accusation of hand-washing, Jesus addresses the core issue itself.  The stain of sin cannot be cleansed through any amount of ritual hand-washing.  Sin didn’t come from bread, or pots, or anything else a person may have touched.  Nothing from the outside corrupted a person.  Corruption begins on the inside, and shows itself outwardly.  That’s what the Pharisees, and indeed all of the people needed to understand & hear.

17 When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable.

  1. Apparently, the disciples had difficulty with this.  Jesus had said “if anyone has ears to hear, let him hear”…even the disciples had trouble hearing this.  They had known that the Pharisees were offended by Jesus’ statement (Mt 15:12).  No one likes being contradicted in public, and that’s exactly what happened with the Pharisees.  Their legalistic traditions were shown to be a farce by Jesus, and it naturally offended them.  Yet we also remember that the disciples themselves still struggled with their own hardness of heart (Mk 6:52).  They had seen many miracles from Jesus & heard much teaching from Him, but they still wavered in their understanding about Him.  It seems that the disciples may have been just as confused as everyone else.
    1. We shouldn’t be too quick to condemn them.  After all, the disciples were just operating with the same understanding as everyone else.  We look back over 2000 years of Christian history, and it would seem obvious to us that sin is an internal problem; not an external disease.  But an ancient Jew would have had trouble separating the two.  In fact, MOST religions have a difficult time separating the two, and even some parts of Christianity have issues with it today.  For many people, holiness is all about doing the right things, rather than having the right heart.  As long as they can do what is acceptable (at least in their own eyes), then it covers over whatever might be going on in their hearts and minds.  That’s exactly the thought that Jesus turns on its head.  Corruption always has its root on the inside of a person, and that’s what needs cleaning up.
  2. The good thing for the disciples is that even if they didn’t understand what Jesus meant by His teaching (if they didn’t quite have ears to hear), at least they knew Who to ask.  They may not have understood at first, but they knew they had access to the One who did.  They could ask Jesus. (So can we!)

18 So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?”

  1. Breaking it down, Jesus shows that real corruption doesn’t begin with tooth decay, but heart decay.  It’s not what enters the mouth, but what comes out of the heart.  Ultimately, all of the traditional ritual washing of the Jews developed from the various dietary laws in the Old Testament.  There were some foods that were considered clean, and others that were considered defiled (unclean).  Some of the laws were God’s way of protecting the Hebrews from various diseases (the ancient people not having access to modern refrigeration or proper cooking methods) – some of them were God’s way of simply showing that His people were set apart & different than the cultures around them.  God’s people were to be holy, as He is holy (a constant theme in Leviticus).  This was not done BY the foods, but shown THROUGH the foods, because it showed their obedience to God.
  2. Food, by itself, can’t corrupt anyone.  Some foods may be better for us than other foods, nutritionally speaking, but it doesn’t cause someone to be spiritually defiled.  (Though you might feel pretty defiled depending on the junk you’ve just eaten! J)  God designed our bodies in such a way that our basic biology takes care of the food.  That protects our stomachs.  But what protects our hearts?  What is it that indwells our mind/spirit?  THAT is the issue at hand.

20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

  1. These are the true measures of corruption & defilement.  All of these things emanate from our hearts.  The list is basically self-explanatory, and certainly not comprehensive.  Jesus lists off all kinds of sin, of which no amount of hand-washing could ever reach.  How does someone scrub his mind of “evil thoughts” (which seems to summarize the list that follows)?  These are things that affect all of us on the deepest level.  If you’re single & cannot commit adultery, then you can still commit fornication.  Everyone is susceptible to wickedness, foolishness, and pride.  The very accusation of the Pharisees and scribes was rooted in pride.  After all, they thought that they were good enough to scrub their own sin away.  It can’t be done!  These are the things that defile & corrupt, and they are endemic to all of us.

To stop there might leave us pretty desperate.  After all, when we go through Jesus’ list, there’s something there that strikes all of us at some point.  Not a single one of us is without sin – not even the most pious & seemingly “religious” person around.  There is no pastor, no prophet, no person anywhere that is outside of some sort of defilement of sin.  At some point, all of us have engaged in pride, foolishness, lewdness, or the like.  All of us need cleansing from this sort of heart-decay.  To give the Pharisees a bit of credit, they at least realized that some sort of purification was necessary – they understood that they had sin that needed to be cleansed.  They just went about it in the wrong way.  They thought sin was external and that they could wash themselves of it as a person washes away germs.  They were wrong; sin is internal, far more like cancer & needs to be dealt with in a radical way.  WE can’t do it.  WE are hopeless to deal with it.  That’s where Jesus comes in.  He cleanses us from the inside-out.  He scrubs us in the area that soap cannot hope to reach: our heart.  Talk about a radical cleansing: we don’t need the washing of hands by water, we need the washing of our hearts by the blood of Jesus Christ…and that is exactly what He offers.

Knowing that, why would we substitute it for anything?  Talk about a terrible trade!  To trade out the true cleansing of Jesus for the false assurance of man-centered efforts is awful…it’s foolishness.  It would be as if we decided that flapping our arms would be more beneficial to us than a parachute before jumping out of a plane.  Work as hard as you want, it won’t do you a lick of good.  And what would be worse would be forcing it onto someone else, getting them to trust in your preferred methods rather than the power and sufficiency of Christ.

The Pharisees came looking for trouble, and they missed the mark in two areas: (1) they had traded the truth for tradition, and (2) they didn’t understand real corruption in the first place.  May God keep us from both errors!  Again, not all traditions are bad, but they are never a substitute for the truth of the Scripture.  The Scripture is our final authority in all matters of faith and practice.  AND the Scripture is the only thing that shows us what real corruption is, and how to deal with it.  It’s deep within the heart…thankfully, that is exactly where God can reach through the work of Jesus Christ.

Maybe you’ve been struggling with legalism.  Either someone has placed it upon you, or you’ve placed it upon yourself.  Remember the freedom you have in Christ!  Base your actions upon the Scripture, and evaluate everything else in its light.

Maybe you’ve been struggling with corruption.  You’ve been trying to clean up your own life, and you keep falling short.  News flash: you’ll continue to fall short until you rely on the sufficiency of Jesus for you.  1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." []  That promise is primarily for Christians, but it’s also true for the person who puts his/her faith in Jesus for the first time.  If you’ve never done that – if you know you need to be made clean from sin & you want to know that you’ve been made clean from sin – then you can ask Jesus for His cleansing and forgiveness today.

  1. John Warren Jr. says:

    One trade that distresses me is letting slip the ordinances of head coverings (1 Cor. 11), which, with the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper (also 1 Cor. 11), is an expression of the mystery of Christ and the Church. Divine wisdom of Scripture is neglected for the fashion of the times. Separated from understanding rooted in faith, observance of divine ordinances degenerates into mere tradition, ritual, and superstition.

  2. timburns says:

    Hi John –
    It’s an interesting example you point out. In the same passage, Paul writes regarding the head coverings, “But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.” (1 Cor 11:16). This wasn’t a point Paul was concerned about fighting over. His main point was regarding orderly worship, as a people submitted unto God (which was one thing symbolized through the head covering).

    Amen to seeking understanding rooted in faith!

    Have a great day!

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