Do your traditions make you feel righteous?
“So Yahusha said to some of those which believed on Him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ …They answered him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Yahusha said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from YaHuWaH. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did… Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. Your father is the adversary, and your will is to do your father’s desires – which was to murder from the beginning and has nothing to do with the truth but is the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of YaHuWaH hears the words of YaHuWaH. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of YaHuWaH.
“So יהושע said to those Yehuḏim who believed Him, “If you stay in My Word, you are truly My taught ones, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” They answered Him, “We are the seed of Aḇraham, and have been servants to no one at any time. How do you say, ‘You shall become free’?” יהושע answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone doing sin is a servant of sin. “And the servant does not stay in the house forever – a son stays forever. “If, then, the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. “I know that you are the seed of Aḇraham, but you seek to kill Me, because My Word has no place in you. “I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” They answered and said to Him, “Aḇraham is our father.” יהושע said to them, “If you were Aḇraham’s children, you would do the works of Aḇraham. “But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has spoken to you the truth which I heard from Elohim. Aḇraham did not do this. “You do the works of your father.” Then they said to Him, “We were not born of whoring, we have one Father: Elohim.” יהושע said to them, “If Elohim were your Father, you would love Me, for I came forth from Elohim, and am here. For I have not come of Myself, but He sent Me. “Why do you not know what I say? Because you are unable to hear My Word. “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you wish to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks the lie, he speaks of his own, for he is a liar and the father of it. “And because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. Who of you proves Me wrong concerning sin? And if I speak the truth, why do you not believe Me?” He who is of Elohim hears the Words of Elohim, therefore you do not hear because you are not of Elohim. The Yehuḏim answered and said to Him, “Do we not say well that You are a Shomeroni and have a demon?” יהושע answered, “I do not have a demon, but I value My Father, and you do not value Me. “And I do not seek My own esteem, there is One who is seeking and is judging. “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone guards My Word he shall never see death at all.” The Yehuḏim said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon! Aḇraham died, and the prophets. And You say, ‘If anyone guards My Word he shall never taste death at all.’ Are You greater than our father Aḇraham, who died? And the prophets died. Whom do You make Yourself? יהושע answered, “If I esteem Myself, My esteem is none at all. It is My Father who esteems Me, of whom you say that He is your Elohim. And you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be like you, a liar. But I do know Him and I guard His Word. Your father Aḇraham was glad that he should see My day, and he saw it and did rejoice. The Yehuḏim, therefore, said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Aḇraham?” יהושע said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Aḇraham came to be, I am.” Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but יהושע was hidden and went out of the Set-apart Place, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.” Yoḥanan (John) 8:31-59
This is an astonishing, amazingly revealing passage of scripture. In the course of 30 verses (John 8:31-59) a group of believers in Yahusha move from a position of embracing Him to wanting to kill Him. What would cause such a radical change to so quickly overcome people who proclaimed their loyalty to Him? What was it He said that so offended them? “If you abide, dwell in, live My Words only then are you considered to be My disciples and only then will you know Who Truth is (the Father) and only then will you be set free from your sin.” Their response was to question Yahusha’s statement based on the tradition that had been handed down to them – that of being Abraham’s children (how many “believers” today claim to be of Abraham’s seed?). Now, what they were saying was true, that is, the words they spoke came from the pages of the Book – Yahusha even acknowledged that He knew what they were saying was written. However, as He continued to explain to them that what they said they believed with their mouth had no bearing on where and how their spirit was captured, that it was their behavior that indicated such. These “believers” began to defend their tradition rather than being receptive to the possibility that, because these words of Truth did not fit into their traditional way of thinking, perhaps they needed to be given deeper consideration. In their anger of resistance, they then tried to negate Yahusha’s words by relegating Him to either a cult status or as being demon possessed when all He was doing was revealing how they could be free. In the very act of defending their tradition, they chose to close themselves off to Truth. Eventually, it led them into a position of murder, thinking they were doing “YaHuWaH’s will”.
“These words I have spoken to you, so that you do not stumble. “They shall put you out of the congregations, but an hour is coming when everyone who kills you shall think he is rendering service to Elohim.” Yoḥanan (John) 16:1-2
Christianity has made the same error in principle as Judaism by insisting that its followers “accept ‘Jesus’ as their lord and saviour” when that phrase does not appear anywhere in scripture. Over the centuries it has been successfully popular in filling the pews – but a popular tradition is still just tradition. In all of scripture, there is only ONE thing Yahusha ever pointed to that could effectively negate, nullify and make void the Word of YaHuWaH in our lives (Yahusha being the manifestation of that Word). That one thing is the tradition of men we embrace that has been handed down to us by other men. Why is that? Essentially, it is because tradition is a lie – regardless of how well intended it might be, how rationally it might be constructed or how religiously it is packaged. YaHuWaH is Truth and it is the Essence of His Nature and Character of Truth that the words of the Book reveal to us – not a religion. Therefore, anything apart from Truth is a lie. This is how Yahusha was able to tell those disciples following Him that their father was the devil, the father of lies – because what we do, what we serve, is indicative of what we believe; what we give ourselves to is what we serve behaviorally. What we serve is who we worship. (Mark 7:13, John 1:1-14, Matthew 6:24, Deut. 11:16, Luke 4:8).
“nullifying the Word of Elohim through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such traditions you do.” Marqos (Mark) 7:13
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Elohim, and the Word was Elohim. He was in the beginning with Elohim. All came to be through Him, and without Him not even one came to be that came to be. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from Elohim, whose name was Yoḥanan. This one came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all might believe through him. He was not that Light, but that he might bear witness of that Light. He was the true Light, which enlightens every man, coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of Elohim, to those believing in His Name, who were born, not of blood nor of the desire of flesh nor of the desire of man, but of Elohim. And the Word became flesh and pitched His tent among us, and we saw His esteem, esteem as of an only brought-forth of a father, complete in favour and truth.”
Yoḥanan (John) 1:1-14
“No one is able to serve two masters, for either he shall hate the one and love the other, or else he shall cleave to the one and despise the other. You are not able to serve Elohim and mammon.”
Mattithyahu (Matthew) 6:24
“Guard yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other mighty ones and bow down to them.” Deḇarim (Deuteronomy) 11:16
“And יהושע answering him, said, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it has been written, ‘You shall worship יהוה your Elohim, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” Luqas (Luke) 4:8
Just like Judaism, Christianity is a man-made religion. The term “Christian” is not used even among the disciples of Yahusha to describe one another. So, let’s take a very brief look at those three scriptural instances where it is used: 1) “…and when he had found him (Sha’ul), he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the assembly and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11:26). What this verse makes clear is that the term “Christian” was not used among the disciples, but rather it was used about them from those who were not disciples. Antioch was an ancient Greek city on the eastern side of the Orontes River; thus, it was pagan Greeks who first overlaid the name of the Hebrew Messiah of Yisra’El with the Greek name of Christ and His followers became Christ-ians. 2) “Agrippa replied to Paul, ‘In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian’.” (Acts 26:28). Here, the term was used by King Agrippa, who was examining Paul in a legal sense. Again, it was not used by the disciples in reference to other disciples. The tone of Agrippa’s words were in the form of a sarcastic or derogatory question, which would make the term “Christian” a term of derision used by the world towards those claiming to follow the Messiah of Yisra’El. 3) “…but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify YaHuWaH in this name.” Finally, here in 1 Peter 4:16, Peter is saying if you are to suffer and people label you with the term “Christian” in association with this suffering, then suffer the derision gracefully. What is clear in the context of the passage surrounding this verse is that the term “Christian” is used by non-disciples in their persecutions against the disciples – hardly an endorsement to the followers of Yahusha to throw away the term He used for them (disciple) in favor of a new term created by the world and simply referenced by Peter (Christian). So, then, what is the Hebrew heritage of a disciple that Yahusha refers to?
“Therefore, having put away falsehood (lying), let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no place to the enemy.” Ephesians 4:25-27
In Hebrew, the meaning of hearing is not just sound waves striking the sensory portion of the ear but has a concurrent meaning as well. The Hebrew word for “listen” or “hear” in Exodus 15:26 is shama’ – but, in Exodus 19:5, this same Hebrew word is also found to be translated “obey”. From a Hebraic perspective, to hear IS to obey, to obey IS to hear. Whether you hear what is spoken or not is measured by how you obey what you hear. Conversely, how you obey determines whether or not you heard what was said. Yahusha said of those who hear, who know Him in this fashion, no man is able to snatch them out of His Hand or out of the Hand of His Father. How we obey, how we serve what we hear is indicative of what we believe. Thus, Yahusha’s words could find no place in these believers in Yahusha because that place was already being occupied by their tradition. In order to create a place where His words of Truth, of Life, could abide, they would have to abandon a tradition they had invested a considerable portion of their lives in. Consequently, He said they were not of YaHuWaH because the tradition they insisted on serving would not allow them to hear the words of Truth. This is an astounding statement to make to people who consider themselves to be “of YaHuWaH”.
There is a vast difference between knowing what is true and knowing Who is Truth. Truth and lies are like Light and darkness. They cannot occupy the same space at the same time. They are mutually exclusive – you will either have Truth or you will have a lie. YaHuWaH is Light and everything else is darkness. Thus, you will either believe the Light of Truth or you will remain in a belief that is made up of emptiness, of darkness. The absence of Light is the definition of darkness. There is no middle ground. Truth is Life and darkness is death – thus, Yahusha could say that whoever immerses himself in the Life of His Word (and He continually said His Word was not His but John 14:23-24), that person would not taste of the death that results in a separation from the Father of Life, Who Is Light. (Isaiah 28:23, 1John 1:5). These believers had elevated the words on the page above what the words on the page were given for – to reveal, understand and imitate the Essence of the Nature and Character of YaHuWaH. This is why Yahusha said that if they were truly children of Abraham, as they claimed, they would be doing the works of Abraham. Genesis 26:5 tells us that what those works of Abraham were – obeying the Voice of the Father by keeping His Commandments, statutes and ordinances.
Instead, they were rationalizing their behavior by defending the tradition and doctrine handed down to them that allowed them to excuse their behavior and still feel righteous. That everyone else they associated with behaved the same way only reinforced the rightness of that tradition in their own eyes. Thus, they could not comprehend, could not “bear to hear” His words that righteousness, right standing with YaHuWaH, is behavioral. That would force them into changing their approach to their way of thinking – what they had come to believe as being Truth. (Proverbs 21:2). In order to KNOW Truth, we must fashion ourselves after Who Truth says He is. This is how Yahusha did it. He said He knows the Father because He keeps the words of His Father. This is the definition of a talmid, the Hebrew word for a disciple – one who bends his will to conform to the example of the Master. The disciple does not tell the Master what it is he will conform to.
“If you guard My commands, you shall stay in My love even as I have guarded My Father’s commands and stay in His love.” Yoḥanan (John) 15:10
…Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
What is tradition?
The definition of the English word “tradition” comes from the Greek word paradosis meaning to give up, to surrender. We give up access to the Truth when we surrender ourselves to someone else’s interpretation of the Truth – consequently, we miss Truth altogether. Why do we embrace tradition? Because it is comfortable and it gives us a convenient place to point to for answers to things we neither entirely understand nor have the desire to sort out on our own. It is easier to place the responsibility on some teaching of men instead of going to the Father and digging it out for ourselves. The main component of this approach results in an embrace of the doctrines of others that are wrapped in their own interpretations (1 John 2:27, 2 Peter 1:20). Tradition is the instrument used by the enemy to set aside or marginalize the words of the Father given to us in the Tanakh (OT) – even though it may use scripture to try to support it. How many times have you heard the phrase “we are believers in the Book”? The words on the pages of the Book speak of the One Who Is Life, but they do not contain Life. Yahusha said as much in John 5:24 We should not believe in a book that can be destroyed – our belief should be in the One Who Is Life that can never be destroyed. Tradition is the embrace of any teaching or doctrine that does not come from the mouth of the One True Elohim of Yisra’El; no matter how plausible the argument, no matter how religious it sounds. Yahusha repeatedly said the words He spoke were not His but those of the Father – the words of YaHuWaH (John 5:24, 1John 5:3).
Where does tradition come from?
Yahusha spoke to this question in Matthew 5:43 when He stated, …you have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy’.” He does not say, “It is written” as He often does when citing other passages of Torah. He was commenting on a popular teaching about enemies, not what is written in scripture. If you look at the passage Yahusha was referencing in Leviticus 19:18, you won’t find the second part of this expression. In fact, what you will find is an entire section devoted to the care and concern for your neighbor one should have. There is not one word about hating your enemy. Most of the verses relating to enemies are found in chapters 26 and 27 where the discussion is about what will happen with enemies when the people are obedient and when they are not. While there are descriptions about pursuing enemies when the people are obedient, there is nothing about hating enemies.
So, how did those words become injected alongside scripture to be held as authentic as scripture? Some teachers of His day, in distinguishing between love for a neighbor and hatred for an enemy, expanded the scripture by adding “and hate your enemy” to the existing words. Why they did this was to further some agenda or point they were trying to make. How many sermons do you hear preached today that have nothing to do with the Life of Yahusha but, yet, are encased with scripture? Yahusha rejects this folk wisdom as incompatible with the Father’s Nature. If we are to emulate the behavior of the Father, we will do what He did – love our enemies and do good to those who reject and despise us. Yahusha points the listeners away from the traditional understanding and toward the deeper principle of the Torah. That deeper principle is based in the character of the compassion of the Father expressed in Luke 6:35 – that He is kind to the unthankful and the evil. When we express YaHuWaH’s character, we fulfill the requirements of the Torah.
Likewise, today, we are surrounded by and immersed in tradition that has been handed down to us through the centuries everywhere we turn. We think we are different from these Hebrews because the Church system has taught that, since Yahusha’s life, death, and resurrection 2000 years ago was the fulfillment of the Torah and the Prophets, we are no longer subject to the statutes, laws, and ordinances contained therein – that is a lie. Torah is much more than rules and regulations; it is the Word of Life, the Word that is the same yesterday, today and forever. To the dismay of many who read this, however, nowhere does scripture say those Words have been set aside. In fact, Yahusha said just the opposite in Matthew 5:17 that He did not come to do away with the Torah and in John 5:46-47 that if you do not believe the writings of Moses how can you believe His words? Did He not mean what He said? If He didn’t mean what He said here, then what does that lead us to believe about the rest of the words He said? Men try to explain away His Words by using other passages of scripture to contradict YaHuWaH’s Word – but Who Is the Word? They want to explain away His Words so as to not be held accountable to those words – because it is His words that judge us (John 12:47-48). To nullify His Words by using other scripture is to do exactly the same thing these believers were doing in John 8. (John 1:1-14).
Tradition knows no boundaries, recognizes no borders and is completely accommodating to anyone who will embrace it. Thus, it is rather curious to hear “Christians” excuse the traditions of Christmas, Easter, the Rapture, and being born again as being worthwhile to uphold. These are all traditions that have leeched their way into the lives of professing believers in Yahusha that do not originate from the Essence of His Nature and are not validated by the over-arching Character of the Father revealed in scripture. These come instead from the agenda of the enemy promoted through the teachings of men that will captivate the unwary and lead them away from the Truth. If we know the Truth, why then would we want to invest ourselves in and settle for lies that, by our behavior, ultimately teach our children to believe in the same lies? To remain free from deception means to be vigilant to scrutinize everything we have been taught against the Life of Yahusha – the benchmark by which everything, including other scripture, is to be measured. Yahusha is the manifestation of everything that has been written in the Torah and the Prophets. With the exception of one verse of scripture recorded in John 13:34-35. that He said was new, everything Yahusha spoke can be referenced back in the Tenakh, the Original Book. Thus, those who reject Moses and the Torah or any of the prophets, or think that they have been done away with, are rejecting the very “spirit of prophecy” which is the testimony of the Life of Yahusha. Revelation 19:10b says, “…the testimony of Yahusha IS the spirit of prophecy.” Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon defines prophecy as the “spoken oracles of YaHuWaH”. So, the testimony of the Life of Yahusha reveals how YaHuWaH’s Words are to be construed. Words mean things. It does not matter what we “think” they say – only if what the Words we are given validate what we believe as Truth or not. If what we think the words mean are not found in the Life or Words of Yahusha – at the very least, those thoughts should be held suspect. Acts 7:38 also gives us the proper Hebraic perspective of prophecy as being the spoken oracles of YaHuWaH.
“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” 1 John 3:15
…passing through their midst (Luke 4:28-30)
What is the result of defending tradition?
These believers Yahusha addressed at the opening of this article sought to imitate the works of their father – they sought to kill the One Who exemplified the Father. The Hebrew word for kill in Exodus 20:13 is ratsach and means to murder, premeditate slaying, as an avenger. In the same way Yahusha said that lusting in one’s heart is the same as having already committed adultery, 1 John 3:15 equates hatred toward our brother the same as being a murderer. The Greek word translated as the English hate in this verse is miseo and means to despise, disparage, detest. When we hate someone, our usual position towards them is to distance ourselves from them. Which is why, in Luke 6:22, Yahusha extends that definition to include a “separation from their company”. The question then arises – “who is my brother?” Not my neighbor – my brother. The only two places in scripture where the Greek word anthropoktonos (murderer) appears is in 1 John 3:15 above and in Luke 8:44 at the top of this article. Both of these verses are used only in conjunction with another member of YaHuWaH’s family – not the world. When we embrace the traditions handed down to us by men, we believe a lie perpetrated and promoted by the father of lies – the adversarial opposition to YaHuWaH’s Words. If it does not proceed from the mouth of YaHuWaH, Who is Truth, it can only be a lie. If we believe a lie by embracing, endorsing and defending it – then our behavior speaks of who our father is. 1John 2:29 tells us it is whoever practices righteousness has been born of Him – that’s behavioral. The only Way to keep ourselves in Truth is to train our ear to hear the Word of Truth by obeying that Truth. How much of what we believe today comes from us hearing the words of the Father for ourselves and how much is tradition?
So, then – who is your Father?
“He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead’.” Luke 16:31