BELIEVING MEANS CONVICTION TO OBEY
One of the many traditions of the Jews during the first century was to carefully wash their hands in a special way prior to eating food. Noticing that some of Jesus’ disciples had started eating without going through this meticulous ceremony, some of the Pharisees and scribes found fault with them and asked Jesus why His disciples had not carried out this ritual (Mark 7:1-5).
Jesus told them that they were hypocrites for asking such a question, declaring that these words from the Old Testament applied to them: “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (verses 6-7).
Continuing, Jesus said, “ ‘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 . . . All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition’ ” (verses 8-9).
Today many who claim to believe in Jesus also follow the commandments of men rather than those of God. For example, instead of assembling to worship God on the biblical weekly Sabbath (sunset Friday to sunset Saturday) and annual Holy Days as commanded by God, they worship on Sunday and holidays that originated in pagan religious worship, including Christmas and Easter.
In His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23, emphasis added throughout).
In accepting the correct teaching that we cannot earn our salvation through works, many have naively embraced the incorrect teaching that keeping God’s commandments doesn’t matter. Jesus’ own words clearly show that He expects believers to lay aside the commandments of men and keep the commandments of God—even though this obedience will not earn them salvation.