“Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.” (Mark 7:13)
I have discovered that some of the greatest enemies to preaching the gospel are right in many of our churches. These enemies are cleverly disguised, but yet quite effective in preventing the move of the Holy Spirit and the operation of His gifts. Satan isn’t really all that concerned if we get together and have church, hear some preaching, sing a few songs and then go home, as long as we don’t operate in the power and revelation of the Spirit.
Religious tradition is one of Satan’s greatest weapons against strong, local churches. He perpetrates religious ideologies and doctrine so that he can work unhindered in the lives of believers, and to repel those that have any common sense. Even a sinner wants to be free, but if you tell a religious person that they can be free, they’ll want to kill you!
Satan has believers resigning themselves to things that he has brought into their lives, thinking those things are “the will of God,” when they are not the will of God at all. He destroys marriages, and divides families and churches; he inflicts believers with sicknesses and diseases, and keeps a yoke of poverty and shame upon many of our lives because of a lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).
There’s an old argument that God is sovereign and all powerful, but yet at the same time highly incompetent, negligent, cruel and malicious, or He is not sovereign at all. The reasoning is that there can be no other logical explanation for the cruelty and injustice in the world and in the church. There is, however, another explanation, of course, and Jesus has revealed it to us in His Word. The Word of God reveals that God is indeed sovereign, however, in His sovereignty He has chosen to delegate authority and responsibility to men (John 20:21, Mark 13:34, Luke 10:19).
Adam was created in the image of God, and he was created perfect. God gave him dominion over all the earth and everything in it, and he became the ruler, or “god” of this world (Genesis 1:26). Satan lied to Eve and told her that she could become like God, but she already was, for they were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27, 3:5). She believed the lie, and Adam went along with it. God had given Adam authority, but he gave what God gave him over it to the devil through disobedience, and because of this, Satan became the “god of this world” (II Corinthians 4:4).
Jesus destroyed Satan’s power and stripped him of his authority when He went to the cross and rose again, and gave authority to every believer (Hebrews 2:14). He gave us authority over sin, and over the devil and all of his works. We have been redeemed from sickness and disease, destruction and calamity, premature death and poverty, if we only believe and act on what God has said in His Word.
Religion has taught that we have “no guarantee of tomorrow,” but this is part of the curse, not the blessing of Abraham (Galatians 3:13-14), and is only true for the unbeliever, not the believer. We have surety of long life (Deuteronomy 28:66, Psalm 91:16). We must know our rights, or Satan will take advantage of our ignorance.
Satan is not a law-abiding spirit, and he will continue to cause trouble unless he is apprehended by a born-again believer through faith, standing steadfast on the Word of God. It is upon the rock of the revelation of Jesus Christ, the living Word of God, that the gates of hell will not prevail against, not religious tradition (Matthew 16:13-18).
Religious traditions come in many different forms. For example, the devil would rather have us kissing a Bible rather than reading it. He would rather have us saying nice, dinner and bedtime prayers that make everyone feel good, rather than speaking the Word of God in faith. He would rather have us believing that something is “just the will of God,” and therefore doing nothing about it, rather than believing the truth and standing firm on the promises of God.
“Well Brother Tom, are you preaching that we should never have any problems and float through life on a bed of ease?” The truth is, if you live by faith, you’ll have more attacks and problems then you have ever had in your life because Satan will attempt to discourage you and cause you to quit. He will seek to steal the Word of God out of your heart in order to cause you to become unfruitful (Mark 4:14-20). But in all of these things we are more than conquerors! (Romans 8:37) A person who lives by faith will overcome and be victorious over every attack, problem and opposition (Psalms 34:19, Revelation 3:5, 12, 21).
Religious tradition has been around for a long time; in fact, it was alive and well back in Jesus’ time, and He had much to say about it. It was so prevalent in His hometown that He, Jesus the Son of God, could do no mighty work! (Mark 6:4-16) It doesn’t say He wouldn’t, it says He couldn’t! Jesus had compassion on the sinner but had no mercy for those who were religious. Religious spirits are the worst kind of evil, for they appear righteous before men but their hearts are far from God. For this reason they are dangerous, because men do not discern their treachery (Matthew 23:27).
God desires to reveal the fullness of His glory to His people, and He wants us to live victoriously and whole. Religious traditions can deeply frustrate this desire (Galatians 2:21). He desires us to know Him and be free from every satanic bondage and oppression; to serve Him without fear all the days of our lives (Luke 1:74-75). But we must know, believe, speak and act on what God has actually said in order for His promises to manifest in our lives (Romans 5:2).