In our previous post we brought up the idea of the illusions of strongholds and their limiting affects in our lives. Our perception of the situations create for us our personal realities and thus our actions or lack there of.
In regards to our spiritual lives and being the body of Christ (church) there are major strongholds that have kept us from demonstrating the power of Jesus and his kingdom. The following is from our upcoming book: Living In Kingdom Authority and it presents what I believe is one of the major strongholds that the North American church has to deal with ~ religious tradition.
The scripture is clear about the authority that has been given to the church and to each believer. The Word has promised that believers would do greater works than those Jesus himself performed. Reviewing the early church, it is clearly seen that the apostles walked in a miracle producing authority. They performed the miraculous, and the Lord confirmed their preaching by signs and wonders. The Lord has further promised believers that we would receive power after His Spirit came upon us, and there would be miraculous signs that follow those that believe. This miraculous demonstration of Kingdom authority in the daily lives of the first believers was so powerful and convincing that cities were stirred to riots because of its affect, and a reverential fear or awe of God was produced with many souls being converted.
However, upon examining 21st century Christianity, it is apparent most churches are weak and anemic. There is little power evident in the daily lives of most of those calling themselves Christians. The “greater works” are not evident today as in the days of the first church. In the Christianity of today, we find that many of man’s ideas have become a hindrance to the operation of the Spirit, limiting the church’s ability to operate in Kingdom authority. Jesus said, “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men,” (Mark 7:7-8). Jesus further spoke of the result of holding the traditions of man in verse 13, “Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered:” According to Thayer’s “Making of none effect” is one word and it means “deprive of force and authority.”
The greatest hindrance to Kingdom authority that is faced in this day and age is the tradition of men and the resulting structure of traditional churches. Traditions create a biased paradigm that is used to filter scripture. This tainted view of scripture affects the faith of the individual and their ability to walk in Kingdom authority. Centuries of man’s tradition have created an organization that is far from the original church of sent (apostolic) believers.
Traditions can be a blessing or a curse. Many times traditions are a good reminder of who we are, of our heritage or identity. Paul speaking to the church at Thessalonica instructed them to: “stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or our epistle” (2 Thessalonians 2:15). There are traditions that can be passed from one generation to another that can insure a continuation of purpose and being. This is obvious in the history of the Jewish nation. For many years, prior to 1948, they were a homeless people, yet they maintained their identity as a people.
However, there are times when traditions create a filter that colors how we view information or experiences of life. This way of seeing things becomes rigid and inflexible, causing a rejection of anything that does not blend with our traditional views. The traditions we are speaking of here are ONLY those that are of man’s creation that HINDER the divine plan of God. In the New Testament, the Greek word translated as tradition or traditions is used thirteen times; only twice is it used in a positive manner.
Traditions can become strongholds of arguments, rationalizations or pretense that we use to justify a particular pattern of beliefs. Such statements as: “this is the way we’ve always done it,” “if it was good enough for my parents, its good enough for me” or “we must maintain the old landmarks” all exhibit a tendency for maintaining strongholds. The problem with this thought process is that it can hinder the move of the Spirit of God. Jesus came to the religious leaders of Israel declaring by word and ministry who He was – the Messiah. Yet because of their religious traditions, the Pharisees missed Him.
The greatest hindrance to living in Kingdom authority and the church becoming truly apostolic (sent) is the battle we face with tradition. The traditional church is not necessarily one that has a specific distinguishable liturgical form or style. It is a church that operates with a particular man-made concept or intent of ministry that has been passed down, unquestioned, from generation to generation. Some traditions of church life have been passed on for centuries.
The full effect of how tradition can bind a church is revealed when the very word tradition is defined, both scripturally and secularly. According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database, the Greek word translated tradition is paradosis, (Strong #3862).
• It is defined as: “a giving over, giving up. 1. the act of giving up, the surrender: 2. a giving over which is done by word of mouth or in writing.”
• According to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary; tradition’s etymology is Middle English tradicioun, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French tradition, from Latin tradition-, tradition and is the action of handing over. It is from the same root word as treason. (emphasis added)
• Once again, according to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary; the etymology of treason is Middle English tresoun, from Old French traison, from Latin tradition-, traditio act of handing over, from tradere to hand over, betray. (emphasis added)
It should be a shocking revelation to us that tradition and treason have the same etymology. They mean a handing over of something. So we see the significance of tradition is that it can be considered treason of beliefs or values that were once held by individuals or a group. In respect to the traditional church, we see that there has been a surrendering, a giving up or handing over of the power of God, as demonstrated through Kingdom authority. This treasonous act has been a replacing of the commandments and power of God for the traditions of men. This is truly making the commands of God none affect.
Digging a little deeper, we find that paradosis (tradition) is derived from paradidomi which has significant meanings for our discussion. According to Strong’s it means, “to surrender.” Thayer’s states it is “to give over: properly, to give into the hands (of another) to give over into (one’s) power or use: to deliver to one something to keep, use, take care of, manage.” The basic idea conveyed here is to surrender or to give over to the power of another. It is used 121 times in the New Testament and only 19 are used in a positive context.
Paul warns the church at Colossi of the potential dangers traditions have to spoil or enslave: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition (paradosis) of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8). The International Standard Version puts it this way:” See to it that no one enslaves you through philosophy and empty deceit according to human tradition.” The danger of man’s religious traditions is they hold us captive or enslave us when they are held above the commandments of God.
The religious traditions of men create illusionary strongholds: affecting how we view ourselves and the body of Christ. They have created a stronghold that limits the power of God by attempting to place it within the confines of our traditional structures. This, in my opinion, has become one of the greatest challenge to demonstrating Kingdom authority. In an upcoming post, I plan is to speak specifically regarding some of these religious traditions.