Are Traditions Getting in the Way of Christ? - Hebrews 9
Today we look at Hebrews chapter 9 as Pastor Gene asks: are we letting tradition get in the way of Christ?
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Good morning everyone and welcome if you are new here among us my name is gene and I serve here at c3 church as your lead pastor if you're tuning in from somewhere else welcome to somewhere else speaking of somewhere else if you are here on campus you've probably noticed that I'm not here well I'm here just not there here now I'm I'm here now just not now you're now, so I'm I am here but not here now anyway have you ever heard of Pavlov's dog I van Pavlov was a physiologist in the late 1800s who did an experiment with a dog he wanted to see what the dog's response was to things other than food in other words would the dog salivate like he would be regarding the food to other things if he could get the dog to associate those other things with the food so first he measured the dog's saliva with the food kind of gross anyway then he started introducing other things he would have an assistant bring the food in eventually he would remove the food and the dog would salivate as a response to the assistant's footsteps then he tried it to a metronome is a thing musicians use to keep time he would play the metronome or let it go while the dog was eating the food eventually he could remove the food and the dog would salivate to the metronome then he did it with a bell and sure thing when the dog heard the bell eventually the food didn't need to be there for the dog to salivate interesting today we're going to talk about what our response is to what Jesus did for us have I ever told you that I got kicked out of church once yep I wasn't always the angel that I am now it was because of my response to a bell in church I grew up in traditional church I don't know about you but we had priests and during the communion time or before it they would bless the elements so you would have the bread and the blood of Jesus each time the priest would raise the elements the altar boy would ring a bell well I don't know why I responded this way but one time I responded to the bell by laughing hysterically out loud really loud so loud that well by the second time I laughed the nuns came and dragged me out of the church kind of interesting I didn't quite understand why we did that I guess I thought it was funny today we're going to talk about some religious traditions that many don't understand maybe they're kind of funny today we arrive in Hebrews 9 where we see some things about old rules regarding worship Hebrews 9 starting at verse 1. that first covenant between God and israel had regulations for worship and a place of worship here on earth there were two rooms in that tabernacle the first room where a lamp stand a table and sacred loaves of bread on the table this room was called the holy place then there was a curtain and behind the curtain was the second room called the most holy place in that room were a gold incense altar and a wooden chest called the ark of the covenant which was covered with gold on all sides inside the ark were a gold jar containing manna aaron's staff that sprouted leaves and the stone tablets of the covenant above the ark were the cherubim of divine glory whose wings stretched out over the ark's cover the place of atonement we cannot explain these things in detail now when these things were all in place the priests regularly entered the first room as they performed their religious duties but only the high priest ever entered the most holy place and only once a year and he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance by these regulations the holy spirit revealed that the entrance to the most holy place was not freely open as long as the tabernacle and the system it represented were still in use this is an illustration pointing to the present time for the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciousness of the people who bring them for that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established that sounds very religious and hard to understand if we're being honest you see the tabernacle was before the temple we see the instructions for building it in exodus it was like a set up church maybe the world's first set up church when we told you about being in a gym not all churches have their own buildings so this is kind of like a traveling tent church so to speak and in it the priest would make sacrifices both for himself for his own sins and the sins of the people it's called atonement when we make sacrifice for sin so how we make up for our sin we see the day of atonement in leviticus chapter 16 and here the high priest puts his hand on the lamb or goat sheep the goat and then it represents the transfer of israel's sin into this goat and that goat dies for the people or instead of the people its blood is then covered on certain things in leviticus 17 it says that they're not to eat the blood of any animal because the life is in the blood so we can think of it as a life for a life Hebrews 9 22 says that there's no forgiveness for sin without the shedding of blood and so this is what Jesus did for us he shed his blood for our sins not over and over again every year once and for all sacrifice for sin a life for a life now it can be hard to understand and quite complicated sometimes when we think about it or religious now Hebrews tells us we don't have to do those things anymore we are covered once and for all by Jesus's blood he gave his life for ours but have we replaced them with things other than Jesus these old traditional worship things do we have religious traditions we hold to and don't understand I know a lot of churches do it happens in the modern church too and we have to learn from our past like israel we talked about that learning from israel's mistakes we talked about traditions old traditions can sometimes get in the way of what's really really important you see Jesus knew that the pharisees and religious people wouldn't be ready for the reality of the gospel they want to hold on pridefully to those traditions their hearts were hardened like the israelites before them we find a teaching on this in luke chapter 5 with an analogy of wineskins luke 5 37 and no one puts new wine into old wineskins for the new wine would burst the wineskins spilling the wine and ruining the skins new wine must be stored in new wine skins but no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new one the old is just fine they say we talked about a new and better covenant last week this is in Christ not the law or traditions Hebrews 9 24 for Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands which was only a copy of the true one in heaven he entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf and he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again like the high priest here on earth who enters the most holy place year after year with the blood of an animal if that had been necessary Christ would have to die again and again ever since the world began but now once for all time he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice and just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes to judgment so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people he will come again not to deal with our sins but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him now our worship is in Christ not through a religious system it is about living it out not playing it out we too are supposed to be a living sacrifice we saw this in our roman series romans 12 1 and so dear brothers and sisters I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you let them be a living and holy sacrifice the kind he will find acceptable this is truly the way to worship him this is our true spiritual worship it's about living like Jesus have you ever heard the phrase that Christianity it's not a religion it's a relationship it's one of those catchy phrases it kind of sounds good but when you think about it maybe it's not entirely true it has good intentions and I know that I personally have taught that but I don't think I was completely right what if I told you the bible actually teaches that religion is good it defines it for us james 1 22 and following but don't just listen to God's word you must do what it says otherwise you're only fooling yourselves for if you listen to the word and don't obey it is like glancing at your face in a mirror you see yourself walk away and forget what you look like but if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard then God will bless you for doing it if you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue you're fooling yourself and your religion is worthless pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you interesting we see here that the bible teaches religion genuine religion is a good thing the bible here defines religion as doing good things and refusing to let the world corrupt you and romans says that's how we worship the world likes the newer modern definition because it doesn't require you to do anything I think a lot of Christians have thrown the baby out with the bathwater here relationship is key but religion is too the bible tells us this religion genuine religion is our response to the relationship and as it says in james a part of that is refusing to let the world corrupt you when I hear someone denounce religion if i'm observing things correctly it's usually someone who has let the world corrupt them they claim to have relationship and great faith but there's no fruit faith should lead to fruit let's look at james again what good is it dear brothers and sisters if you say you have faith but don't show it by your actions can that kind of faith save anyone he gives an example of being kind to poor people and it says this so you see faith by itself isn't enough unless it produces good deeds it is dead and useless now someone might argue some people have faith others have good deeds but I say how can you show me your faith if you don't have good deeds I will show you my faith by my good deeds relationship with Jesus should lead to real religion real relationship leads to real religion this true and genuine kind of acting it out pure and genuine religion as it says in james see Jesus never denounced religion Jesus denounced hypocrisy and the value of traditions man-made traditions over true religion mark 7 5. so the pharisees and teachers of religious law asked him why don't your disciples follow our age-old tradition they eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony Jesus replied you hypocrites isaiah was right when he prophesied about you for he wrote these people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me their worship is a farce for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God for you ignore God's law and substitute it with your own tradition we've talked about awkward chapter breaks in the bible right that's because these originals the gospels the letters of the bible they didn't have any chapter or verse numbers so we end up with some awkward ones one of them is matthew 5 through most of seven it is one continuous sermon he didn't stop and say okay now guys i'm in chapter six he just went straight through you guys know it as the sermon on the mount pretty important sermon toward the end of the sermon Jesus gives us the golden rule we've seen this in recent past so it's kind of important matthew 7 22 do to others whatever you would like them to do to you this is the essence of all that is taught in the law and prophets some more word for word versions say this is the law and prophets it's about doing it well in matthew 7 there's some that a lot of people like to highlight and then ignore the rest i've told you this it says don't judge right at the top so some people will circle that and then scribble everything else out why because it says this matthew 7 15 beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves you can identify them by their fruit that is by the way they act can you pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles a good tree produces fruit and a good fruit and a bad tree produces bad fruit a good tree can't produce bad fruit and a bad tree can't produce good fruit so every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire yes just as you can identify a tree by its fruit so you can identify people by their actions you can judge people by their actions this is what the bible teaches what you do says more about what you believe than anything you say Jesus again summarizes the law by boiling it down to loving others we see this again in luke 10. starting at verse 25. one day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question scribe teacher what should I do to inherit eternal life Jesus replied what does the law of moses say how do you read it the man answered you must love the lord your God with all your heart all your soul all your strength and all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself right Jesus told him do this and you will live ding ding ding you got the right answer you win the prize correct pay attention though do this and you will live but the prize wasn't enough for that guy luke 10 29 the man wanted to justify his actions so he asked Jesus who is my neighbor man wanted a what justify his actions so like who don't I have to love who isn't my neighbor Jesus means everybody Jesus continues to give an example in the story of the good samaritan it kind of goes like this there's a man from jericho on his way to jerusalem and he gets beat up and robbed left for dead on the road well a priest passes by him on the road see this guy left for dead needs help the priest just kind of goes to the other side of the road he's out of there he doesn't help him well then a levite a temple helper sees the same thing goes to the other side of the road it doesn't help him then a samaritan sees him and helps him out not only that but he puts him up and in for a couple nights now I told you in the past why this would be completely remarkable we have that civil war just after solomon's time begins with ray obama they have a civil war of sorts and they break up so now there's two capitals in judah it's jerusalem in israel northern kingdom if he comes later samaria so this is where this the idea of the samaritans come from well they get conquered by assyria and they intermix with the other people they start worshiping their Gods so the jews really don't like them they consider them irreligious and half breeds so it gives this story a lot of force right so these religious people fake religious people don't help the person who got beat up but the samaritan the hated one he gets it he's the good neighbor Jesus says this luke 10 36 now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by abandons Jesus asked the men replied the one who showed him mercy the samaritan then Jesus says yes now go and do the same this is Jesus's answer to well who's my neighbor yeah go and do the same even though the priest and the temple assistant were doing the temple traditions well they weren't doing real religion very well at all they're what i'd call paper black belts they had the titles but not the technique do we do this how often do we give ourselves titles make ourselves seem holy and important in the eyes of others but when the robber or the man from jericho hits the road we do nothing remember I told you I got kicked out of church as a kid it almost happened to me as an adult too I almost got kicked out for wearing the wrong kind of clothes a lot of people do this it's fine to get dressed up for church i'm a little more dressed up than I am at home maybe you don't consider it really dressed up but that's fine come as you are here at c3 that's not what i'm talking about what i'm talking about is the kind of people who come and get dressed up and make that really important much more important than how we are on the inside Jesus says we've got to clean the inside of the cup that's what's important we can put a Jesus fish on the back of our cars but if we're cutting everyone off we're hypocrites Jesus wants to see an observable response from a real relationship with him true religion is our response to Jesus's passion religion and relationship are not mutually exclusive they are mutually inclusive they work together you see real religion is about relationship both with Jesus and the orphans and the widows and the man from jericho and our neighbors Jesus died for us he shed his blood for the forgiveness of sins so we can have eternal life by believing in him how are we responding to that Jesus said that people will know us by our love this is the delivery vehicle for the gospel loving actions not just words it is how we respond to Jesus and how we respond in kind to those around us it's about our passion for Jesus and our compassion for those for whom he died now may the God of peace who brought up from the dead our lord Jesus the great shepherd of the sheep and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood may he equip you with all you need for doing his will may he produce in you through the power of Jesus Christ every good thing that is pleasing to him all glory to him forever and ever amen