Do your traditions leave you empty or full? Jesus was constantly confronting the Pharisees with their religiosity--having a form but not the fullness. Matthew's gospel (15:1-9) tells of one instance in which Jesus told them(vs. 6), ". . . Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition." The apostle Paul warned young Timothy (2 Timothy 3:1-5): But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God--having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. Here are some interesting definitions of the word, form: From Vines Expository Dictionary of N. T. Words, "a form or outline, an image or impress, an outward semblance." Also, "The representation or pattern of anything, Romans 6:17 "that form ( or mould) whereunto ye were delivered." The metaphor is that of a cast or frame into which molten material is poured so as to take its shape. The Gospel is the mould; those who are obedient to its teachings become conformed to Christ, whom it presents." From Webster's Dictionary: "n. 1. The shape or structure of anything. 2. A body, especially of a human being. 3. A set or fixed way of doing something. 4. Empty ceremony. 5. The manner of doing something. 6. A special manner of arrangement. 7. A kind; a variety. 8. Something by which shape is given or determined. 9. Physical and mental condition, as of an athlete. 10. A long seat or bench, especially in a schoolroom. 11. A class of students in a school. 12. A printed document with blank spaces for inserting required information. 13. In grammar, one of the different ways in which a word is changed to show differences in use." And then there's the verb usage: "v. 1. To give form or shape to; to fashion; to make. 2. To train; to instruct. 3. To develop; to get; to contract. 4. To make up; to constitute. 5. To arrange in order. 6. To take form; to arise. 7. To take a definite form, shape, or arrangement; to draw up." This information expands our vision of Genesis 2:7, the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Of course we know what happened. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). But we also know what happened after that! Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come! (2 Cor. 5:17) And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:22). The Lord exhorts us through the apostle Paul, With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-make you so that your whole attitude of mind is changed. Thus you will prove in practice that the will of God is good, acceptable to him and perfect. (Rom. 12:1,2 Phillips) Empty or full? Some traditions are good. I learned from a child to say my prayers at night before going to bed. That's a good thing and something we need to remember to do always. What a blessing to be able to put everything in His hands before going to sleep! You've heard the marriage counsel not to go to bed angry. One minister said he always tried to do that, albeit he stayed up all night sometimes! But if we didn't go to bed without turning everything over to God first, what a peaceful sleep we could then enjoy and be refreshed! Good traditions have to do with motives rather than methods. Our lives are forms fashioned after His image to be filled with His fullness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ (Col. 2:8-10). For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver and gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. . . For you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever." And this is the word that was preached to you (1 Peter 1:18, 19, 23-25). Stay close enough to Christ for Him to blow His breath on you and fill you with His life. His breath releases His Word. He is the Living Word!
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