Regulations and Realities

Mark 7:1-13

by Pastor John

We've taken a few days off, but we're back.

Conflict ensues between Jesus and the Pharisees. They take issue that Jesus' doesn't have his disciples follow the traditions of the elders.

God instituted ceremonial regulations to give people visible pictures of spiritual realities. These regulations were to help people see that they were unclean before God and needed His cleansing and forgiveness. But then some religious leaders expanded the regulations. They missed the point. The regulation was to point to the spiritual reality.

For example, it is good to kneel when you pray, because the kneeling reflects a heart reality of humility. But then imagine someone says, "Not only must you kneel, but you also must place your hands under your knees." The person is getting caught up in regulations rather than the spiritual reality of having a humble heart before God.

This is exactly what the Pharisees were doing.

Not only that, but they were using these regulations to get out of serving God. Yes, they made regulations about giving money to God so they wouldn't have to use the money to take care of their parents. It sounds spiritual to give the money to God. But they were actually giving the money to God so that they wouldn't have to take care of their parents. As the ESV Study Bible says, "Such human traditions thus allow room for the depravity of the human heart, directly opposing the Law of Moses which so often serves to protect the weak and helpless, in this case, parents in their feeble old age".

What can we learn from this passage? A few things.

Our hearts can be twisted. We can use a fake form of Godliness to get out of doing what God wants us to really do.

Second, love of God is always connected to love of neighbor. If we say we love God, but aren't caring for those around us, there is a problem.

Last, we shouldn't add to God's Word. We must be careful to follow God's commandments and ask the Holy Spirit to help us. But we should be just as careful not to add anything to God's commandments.