Setting Aside the Word of God

“He was also saying to them, ‘You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.” Mark 7:9 

     We live in a time when name-calling has replaced serious discussion and the presenting of facts and arguments. A hundred years ago, religious debates were very common and the norm to get people to see what the Bible taught. Not today. No one seems interested in the facts. It’s easier just to say, ‘You are narrow,’ or, ‘you are a Pharisee’ than it is to open Bibles up and have a serious conversation. Name-calling is just a cowardly way of saying, ‘I’m going to do what I want to do, and I don’t care what you or the Bible says.’ Name-calling ends the conversation.

     Whether the discussion is about gender identity, salvation, worship or the nature and structure of the church, just lob a name, it doesn’t even have to be true, and that ends the discussion. Those that want to open the door wider than what God has, see nothing wrong with what they are doing. The details do not matter. But what is so common, is that those who are pointing fingers and accusing others of being too strict, are themselves doing things that cannot be found in the Bible.

     In our verse today, Jesus is identifying the problems the Pharisees were having with God. It wasn’t God who was off, it was their thinking. Notice three expressions from this verse.

     First, they had become experts. One doesn’t become an expert the first day on the job. The first time a person picks up a violin he doesn’t become an expert. No. It takes years of practice. It takes playing and playing and playing. One doesn’t become an expert in the field of science, the first day. No. He has studied and studied and read and written tons of technical papers to get the level of an expert.

     These Pharisees in Jesus’ day were called experts by the Lord. This wasn’t their first time at this. They had been doing these things for a long, long time.

     Second, what they were good at was setting aside the word of God. Rather than being experts in obedience, they had become just the opposite. They were experts in disobedience. They were good at setting aside the word of God. This isn’t pointed towards the town drunk. This isn’t spoken about the prisoners in the local jail. This is said about the religious leaders in those villages. The “church people,” we might say today, were good at ignoring what the Bible taught. Now, how does that happen?

     It happens when one has an agenda that doesn’t line up with God’s purpose. It happens when one wants to do things that are not in the Bible. It happens when one is determined to do what he wants, no matter what God says. It’s either God’s way or my way. They chose their way. So, they set the word of God to the side. It wasn’t in their lives. It has been set aside. It was not essential to them. They had set it aside. With God’s word out of the way, it had been set aside, they were free to do what they wanted. Nothing was stopping them. The old rules were tossed. The gate was opened wide and now, whereever their little hearts took them, is where they would go.

     Why not change gender, if God’s word is set aside. Why stop there? Change your race? Don’t stop there. Change your age? Keep going. Change your species. With God’s word out of the way, you have also tossed out sin. Nothing is wrong and everything is right. Worship the calf. Worship the stars. Worship the creation. It can’t be wrong because God’s word has been set aside.

     The third expression in this passage is the motive or reason. Why was the word of God put to the curb? It was so that they could keep their traditions. Tradition or God’s word? Tradition won. And, by tossing the word of God, they were tossing salvation and their hope of spending forever with God. They were unchangeable. They were going to keep doing what they had always been doing. Even if it was wrong, they were staying with it. Even if God had a better way, they were staying with what they knew, what was comfortable and what they wanted.

     We must stand with God. We must not allow a whining culture intimidate us to soften what God says. We must not allow the pressures of now to change our convictions in the Lord.

     The moment we set aside the word of God is the moment we begin to sink spiritually and look around and find out that God is no longer with us. On our own is not a good place to be. It’s time to put the traditions, ideas of culture and our “think-so” to the curb and stick with God.

by Roger Shouse