Warning Against Putting Tradition Above Scripture

By Gil Rugh

It is always dangerous to come to the Word of God with preconceived ideas and convictions and attempt to support them with Scripture.

Jesus gave a warning that is fitting for us to heed.

“And he answered and said to them, ‘And why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?’ ” (Matt. 15:3).

Jesus was addressing religious people—the Scribes and Pharisees. They were experts in Jewish religious beliefs and practices and claimed to support and teach the Scriptures. Yet, these earnest and diligent religious leaders were guilty of violating the Holy Scriptures because of the unbiblical traditions they developed and enforced.

“And thus you invalidated the Word of God for the sake of your tradition” (Matt. 15:6).

Christ said that because the traditions they had developed were contrary to the Scriptures, they were rebelling against the Word of God. This is the danger. When we hold onto certain convictions or beliefs that are not consistent with God’s Word, we are guilty of nullifying the Word of God.

Jesus said to the Pharisees:

“You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men’ ” (Matt. 15:7-9).

We must be careful to come to the Word of God desiring to know what God has said and obey it. We should allow Scripture to shape our beliefs and practices, not vice versa. If that is not the way we approach the Scriptures, then Jesus says we are hypocrites, professing with our lips something that we deny with our hearts.