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    How Tradition Becomes Religion

    How Tradition Becomes Religion

    The only true religion is the one revealed at the end of James chapter one:
    If any man among you seem to be religious, and does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:26-27)
    The "bridling" of the tongue is actually a matter of the heart according to what Jesus said in Matthew 12:33-37:
    "Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned."
    According to James 3:8, no man can tame the tongue; it is an unruly evil...

    This simply states that we will all live or die by the contents of our heart.

    So, how do we protect ourselves from the wrong kind of religion that is often warned about and how does this thing about the tongue come into play?

    Well, let's take a look at what happens every day in each and everyone of our lives. We all talk. We all have something to say, and not to ourselves as much as we have something to say to anyone within earshot. Most times, we do not even consider what it is we say because we are usually caught up in the moment. Another person says something to us that is unpleasant and before we realize it, we fire back with something equally unpleasant. This serves to prove only one thing, no matter what the other person said or did, our reaction to it reveals the content of heart.

    Blaming the other person does not relieve the guilty verdict. It is our reaction that demonstrates that there is NO bridle to our tongue. Whenever we react in kind to evil directed our way, our heart is truly revealed to all who witness it. There is no denying it. We have ALL done it. We've all reacted angrily when wrong has been done to us or those we care about. It is our sinful nature with the sin part being identified as all those things where we are centrally focused on ourselves rather than God. These angry encounters ARE the testings and trials of our faith, with faith being defined as where we ultimately place our hope and trust. If we live our lives selfishly, only conflict emerges. If we live our lives selflessly, the fiery darts of the enemy are extinguished revealing the source of the attack and showing us that this attack is based not on flesh and blood but by the forces of spiritual wickedness that has blinded the eyes of those around us from seeing what they are really doing. Just as we were once children of darkness as they are. But now, we are the children of Light and know how we aught to live, not seeking our own but seeking the things pertaining to heaven.

    The scriptures give us many ways in which we may fend off these spiritual attacks. One of the most important is found in the following verse:
    "…bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ…" 2 Corinthians 10:5
    The mind is the major battlefield for control of your soul. The enemy of our souls is quite adept at relentlessly bombarding our minds with evil thoughts. Evil as defined as anything that will divert your attention away from Christ and His purposes. Like the blind man in Mark 8 who receives his sight but initially can only see men like trees walking and needs another touch from the Master in order to see all men clearly, sometimes, we too need another touch from the Master so that we can refocus our attention on Him, the Savior of our souls. For it wasn't until Jesus caused this, once blind man, to look up and thereby seeing only Jesus, was he able to see all men clearly. How does this work? Because Jesus knew that although this man's sight was restored, his focus was on what men were doing. Thus the metaphor of seeing men like trees walking. Trees are wood, stubble and hay, representing that which perishes in the fire. Focusing his attention on Jesus, he is then able to see men through the heart of Jesus. Similarly, like the disciples caught in the storm on the sea. They all feared for their lives. Then they saw Jesus approaching them walking on this tempestuous sea. When Peter asked to go out of the boat to walk on this same stormy sea as Jesus was, Jesus beckoned him to come. As long as Peter's focus was on Jesus and not the storm, he was able to walk as Jesus walked. However, when Peter was distracted by the raging storm and sea, he changed his focus with the result being immediate. He began to sink.

    The revealed purpose of Satan is to steal, kill and destroy. To rob us of the promise that the Father made to us through His Son. Satan has had thousands of years to perfect his methods and amazingly enough, they still work. He is still able to direct our focus away from the Son of God by drawing us away through his enticements. What are his enticements? The answer is surprisingly simple. He just never acknowledges he has lost you to the truth. It is like a story I heard long ago. In this story, we are represented by a church building with a steeple and a bell in that steeple. Throughout our whole lives it was Satan who has constantly rung the bell in your steeple. Once we've accepted Christ, he has to go but before he leaves, he gives one last mighty tug on that bell. Now that he is outside, he calls out to you and tells you that he is still ringing your bell. If you believe him, he returns as you have acknowledged that no change has really occurred and you have not correctly discerned where the source of the bell was ringing.

    In reality, it is the familiar thoughts that continue to ruin us. These are the thoughts that have been fed to us since our youth. Until we realize that EVERY thought of our heart has been selfishly motivated, we will continue to serve the purposes of the enemy unknowingly. Once we are confronted with our selfishness and realize our guiltiness before the Lord and ask for and receive His forgiveness, a wonderful thing takes place. Our guiltiness is replaced by His peace that surpasses knowledge. Also, according to 2 Corinthians 7:11, a new mindset takes over. This new mindset, as a result of seeing and understanding what was once our sin nature, captures every thought to test it whether it is coming from a selfish desire or from the unselfish Mind of Christ. Are we seeking to please ourselves as before, or will we reject every thought that seeks to please ourselves. Oh, what carefulness, what diligence this repentance has worked in me!

    You see, the old ways and the old thoughts have been to us like a tradition. We acted and reacted, not out of understanding where these thoughts have come from. We did what we were trained to do. We used what we saw of our parents, our siblings, our school buddies and teachers, our friends, our co-workers, our wives or husbands, etc. We not only followed our family's traditions but our school's, church's, our government's, etc. We followed what others did under no other premise than that this is the way it has ALWAYS be done. Instead of questioning or challenging these "accepted" ways, we just did what everyone else has done. Why did we do this? We want to belong. We do not want to be the outcast. We want to be a part. Even if being a part will cost us. We do not consider the consequences. For the most part, we don't even realize what those consequences really are. Many cast off any fear they may have by attempting to diminish the outcome, such as: I'll see you in hell where we will party forever! They believe that if they can minimize their view of hell, they can persuade themselves and others that it really doesn't exist. There is no eternal punishment because there really is no just and Holy God.

    So, what is tradition. Tradition is that fact or persuasion we have convinced ourselves is true, simply on the basis that this is the way we have always done it. We do not question it, we do not challenge it. We just accept it because that is what has always been done. The circus elephants are trained since their youth to not run away. When they are young, a great chain is tied to one of their legs and attached to a stake driven into the ground. No matter how hard they try to escape, the chain is too strong. Over the years, their efforts to escape diminish little by little until finally, when they are adults, no great chain is needed. Only a thin line is tied around their leg and anchored to the ground by a small stake. They can easily break away from this but after many years of trying and failing, they are absolutely convinced there is no escape. Now, as adult elephants, they no longer try. It doesn't matter there is no longer a heavy chain around their legs. Tradition has taught them there can be no escape. You may try to point out to them that there is no longer any great chain to hold them but due to their many years of training, they will not even look to see if what you are telling them is true. They have believed the lie and are convinced there is no way to change it. Not even the truth.

    Another example of how traditions start is the story of when a certain husband was watching his wife prepare the Christmas ham. He noticed that just before she put the ham into the pan and then into the oven, she cut off the end of the ham. Thinking this was strange, he asked her why she cut off the end of the ham before she put it into the oven. Her response, "This is the way my mother has always done it." So he thought that the next he sees his mother-in-law, he will ask why she did this. The following year they were invited to eat Christmas dinner with his wife's mother's house. Now was his opportunity. While his mother-in-law was preparing the Christmas ham, he noticed that she did as his wife did. She too cut of the end of the ham before putting it in the oven. He asked her why and her response was the same. "This is the way MY mother has always done it." Well, grandma was still alive and was also an invited guest so he approached her and asked her why she cut off the end of the ham before placing it in the oven. Her reply? "I cut off the end of the ham because it was too big to fit in the pan!"

    You see, there was a perfectly good reason why she did what she did. The tradition started, not because of the truth but by someone's perception of the truth. Instead of asking her mother why she cut off the end of the ham, she just saw the action and accepted that action as the truth, and followed suit.

    The best way to avoid this sort of "truth" or "tradition" is to do what the inhabitants of Samaria did when the woman at the well told them about Jesus. They invited Him in, heard Him themselves, and told the woman that they now believe on Jesus, not because she told them but they have heard Him for themselves.

    Hearsay is a poor substitute for truth. It is not enough to hear what someone says about God. We have to take it to its source. As long as the source of truth can be reached, then it is our responsibility to seek Him out and hear for ourselves from His mouth rather than trust alone in what others say.
    "Call unto Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things you do not know." Jeremiah 33:3
    The purpose of testimony is to point the way to the truth so that others may invite Jesus in and hear Him for themselves. Remember, our faith is based on what He speaks to us personally, not on what others tell of Him. When He speaks to man, the light of that truth illuminates the contents of his heart, shining truth on our inward parts, exposing all those things that oppose Him and writing His instructions upon the tablets of our heart. As we learn how to be guided and directed by His Spirit and by that, choosing to relinquish ALL control to Him, there will no longer be any place in our heart for traditions or the wrong kind of religion. The true religion, that which places a premium on the God kind of love, will be the only religion that is acceptable to God in our lives.

    Only by walking in the Spirit will become sons of God. By walking in the Spirit we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh. The wrong kind of religion is defeated because we no longer are willing to walk in someone else's 'truth' for we have heard Him ourselves and as the depiction given in Revelations, we will follow Him wherever He goes. No longer will our traditions make the Word of God of no effect, because we have cast them off forever in favor of the Living Word given to us the that part of the Godhead that was given to us to lead and guide us into ALL TRUTH. We are free! We are become free indeed!

    Jerry Sundberg

    Soon after I received the Lord in 1976, I started receiving prophetic visions and warnings about the future of the church and the United States. I share my visions on my Hidden Manna websites and offer free of charge my two ebooks entitled “Hidden Manna” and “Hidden Manna 2”.

    Website: Hidden Manna

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    Item Reviewed: How Tradition Becomes Religion Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Jerry Sundberg
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