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Mark 7:7 – “Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Just prior to this statement, in verses 1-5, the Pharisees noticed Jesus’ disciples eating food with unwashed hands. They, seemingly innocently, asked, “Why walk not Your disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?” (7:5). The Pharisees were extremely meticulous in regard to washing items used in consuming food, such as their hands, cups, bowls, pots, utensils, etc. Over the years, they added numerous regulations—traditions—to God’s commandments, statutes and precepts. These traditions sometimes even came to supersede the laws of God, though He never authorized such license. Cutting to the heart of the matter, Jesus responded, “Well has Esaias [Isaiah] prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (7:6-7). This is a strong indictment of the religious elite! Jesus stated that the Pharisees professed to worship God with their lips, but inside they were far from Him. He realized they were not looking for an explanation. Instead, they sought an opportunity to accuse Him and His disciples of breaking tradition—or “commandments of men.” Christ’s disciples were not breaking any laws of God, yet the Pharisees acted as if this were the case. As such, Jesus labeled their worship vain, which means “to no purpose, fruitless.” Do you grasp this? Christ said that the Pharisees’ worship was pointless! They may have believed they were worshipping God, but Jesus revealed otherwise. Their worship was completely fruitless because they obeyed laws of men rather than laws of God. They were hypocrites because they appeared to be holy men who obeyed God. The “religious authorities” had an outward appearance of religious holiness. But inwardly, they were “full of dead men’s bones” (Matt. 23:27). Jesus further elaborated, saying, “For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things you do…Full well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition” (Mark 7:8-9). The Pharisees made the laws of God of no effect by establishing and following man-made traditions. (While God does authorize the use of traditions [II Thes. 2:15], they are never to supplant, or contradict, God’s laws.) Even more so, they rejected God’s commandments. Take a moment to read Mark 7:10-13, in which Jesus gives an example of the Pharisees nullifying the Law of God. Most of the teachings of orthodox Christianity are man-made! The ministers of this world preach false doctrines and lead people away from God, just like the Pharisees did. If Jesus were on earth today, He would indict these ministers in the same manner as the Pharisees! Ask yourself whether you are worshipping Christ in vain. Do not assume this statement applies to others. Start with the assumption that it applies to you! Investigate why you believe as you do—why you perhaps observe traditions of men, rather than laws of God.
Confusion is the result of the failure to "rightly divide" scripture (2 Timothy 2:15-16). To rightly divide means to accurately interpret and apply scripture. The only One who can do that is the Holy Spirit. Far too often and for far too long we Christians have mixed books and passages and verses intended for a Jewish audience with those intended for us. As long as we bounce around "doing it our way," confusion will remain. We simply have to get out of the way so that the Holy Spirit can Spiritually interpret and apply every word in God's Word. The Apostle Paul sorts it out for the readers of his letters, Romans through Philemon. He began that process after being called to do so by Jesus Himself, Acts 9.
I personally think the answer to your question is quite simply: "the pride of man". Two people, both Christians, both sincere, both loving God can read the Bible and interpret the same passage differently. This might be because they are at different places in their own lives and need to hear different things from God (And I believe the Bible is living Word and can actually mean different things at different times) or it could be they have come from reading different parts of the Bible that have different applications to the same scripture or simply because they are different individuals with different perceptions. The problem arises when through their own pride they feel their way of interpreting the scriptures is the only correct way. (Some will even say that they know their interpretation is the correct one because the Holy Spirit has revealed it to them which is like saying I am filled with the Spirit and you are not, not an attitude I feel the Holy Spirit would condone) A perfect example is Armenianism verses Calvinism. Both, I believe we're devout men of God who studied Scripture extensively. Yet they came to different conclusions and just because you wholeheartedly believe one or the other or a mixture of both after praying to the Holy Spirit for guidance does not mean you are correct and others who believe differently are incorrect. Don't get me wrong, I am not belittling the power of the Holy Spirit nor am I saying you did not hear Him correctly, only that you may have heard Him correctly for you. Someone else may have heard Him correctly for them and though the two may be different because God and the Holy Spirit are able. Both may be correct. The thing is we should not let our pride cause confusion or a rift. Finally (and this may be unpopular), I believe that some have looked upon the Bible as something to worship so any disagreement over what they believe it says is blasphemy. We should not worship the Bible but He who inspired it. The Bible was written, I believe, to lead all who read it to Christ and to help them get to know Him better. It is not meant to be a book of law though there are laws and commands in it. More like a Love letter with advice thrown in. This in no way means there are untruths in it. I believe when we are transformed that we will finally see that every word is true, But, our understanding will change and be complete so that we will see all the many sides and truths we may be blind to now. Then, there will be no more confusion. After all, the confusion did not come from God, but man.
The wisdom of the Devil leads into a lie. John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. The wisdom of man leads into a maze. 1Cor. 1:19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 1Cor. 1:20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 1Cor. 3:18 ¶ Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. 1Cor. 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. 1Cor. 3:20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. The wisdom of God leads into peace. 1Cor. 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. God’s wisdom is available for the asking. James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
If you search for answers for understanding the scriptures from God's Holy Spirit you will not be confused. In John 16:13 Jesus specifically said that the Holy Spirit would lead us and guide us in understanding the scriptures. When Jesus said this the promise of the Holy Spirit had not yet come until after His death. Spend more time with Him while reading the Bible and you will learn the truth. Confusion is not from God. Proverbs says, "Where there is a spirit of confusion there is every evil work." God gave us apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastors and teachers for the perfecting of the saints. Ephesians 4:11-12 but they never over rule the Holy Spirit. The bible warns us to try the spirits of the men and women teaching us in the word. Find out if they beleive all that the bible says about our savior: He was born of a virgin. He was fully a man yet without sin because he was also fully God. (Immanuel) which means God with us. He surrendered His life and body as a sacrifice for the world's sins and more on that cross. He went into the bowels of Hell for a time to bring those held there that where waiting for Him to make a way for them to heaven. He raised Himself from the dead. He is returning for His church some day soon. He is bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth someday. These are all important issues that whoever is teaching or preaching to you must beleive. If they believe not these basic beliefs, they may be a false teacher or ignorant, meaning a novice that has not attained sufficent knowledge to teach. Jesus warned us that in the last days there would be many wolves in sheep's clothing, false teachers and gainsayers. Which means people who preach the gospel for fithy lucre or profit for themselves. The Holy Spirit is the best source of help in understanding the scriptures. He is only a prayer away. Jesus promised that and He is not a man that he would lie to us but God in a man called Jesus. Hope this helps.
Mr. Houdmann touched on this in his answer, that worldly and satanic forces deceive people. 1John 2:12-20, talks about this very reason for confusion and deceit. Going all the way back to Adam and Eve, we see Satan using the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life to deceive and confuse and lead away from God's True Word. First, God's Word was attacked as not being true, causing Doubt. Then the lust of the eyes saw the fruit looked good and the lust of the flesh took the forbidden and ate, causing Disobedience. Finally, the Desire to have wisdom equal to God, brought about by the pride of life sin, caused confusion, chaos, and calamity. The fall of man resulted. It's been the same ever since. Satan deceives, man believes, bringing about confusion and leading away from God's True Word.
An excellent question! Confusion regarding the teachings of the Bible...hmmm. First of all we cannot mix a whole big bunch of teachings found in the Old Testament with Christ's teachings found in the New Testament because a large portion of the OT is obsolete (see Hebrews 8:13.) God said in Deut 14:8 "And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase." Do Christians eat pork? Billions of them do because the NT says it is allowed. How about atonement for sin? Ex 29:16 says "And thou shalt slay the ram, and thou shalt take his blood, and sprinkle it round about upon the altar." I have never heard of any pastor who slaughtered a ram and sprinkled the blood on the altar for the sins of the congregation. Christ's sacrificial blood at Calvary completely replaced that OT system. In the OT when you got a skin disease you went to the priest (Lev 13) today we go to a dermatologist. Are we sinning because we didn't do to a Jewish rabbi first? I don't think so! Perhaps your confusion is about Arminianism and Calvinism. This confusion has been going on for over 500 years. Actually when you rightly divide God's word and don't allow any preconceived ideas to influence your thinking you will see that one is false and the other is absolutely true. Maybe you are confused by Protestant denominations. I Googled, "How many protestant denominations are there?" I got five answers: 20,800, 47,000, 180, 200, and 35,496. According to the RCC and the Orthodox church every Protestant denomination teaches something completely different! I find that amazing especially since the eight basic tenets of the Christian faith are taught by virtually every Protestant denomination (with slight variations) and the RCC and the Orthodox Church also! I won't touch on the "Christian" cults because they don't teach the eight basic tenets. Every Saturday morning I have breakfast with about 20 Gideon brothers. We all come from about 12 different Protestant denominations and in the 15 + years I have been a member of The Gideons International I have never once heard of any kind of doctrinal disagreement. We simply worship, praise and pray as brothers in the Lord. It is called unity.
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