8 You have stopped following the commands of God, and you follow only human teachings.” 9 Then Jesus said to them, “You cleverly ignore the commands of God so you can follow your own teachings. 10 Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Anyone who says cruel things to his father or mother must be put to death.’ 11 But you say a person can tell his father or mother, ‘I have something I could use to help you, but it is Corban—a gift to God.’ 12 You no longer let that person use that money for his father or his mother. 13 By your own rules, which you teach people, you are rejecting what God said. And you do many things like that.” ~ Mark 7:8-13
Today, we return to our study of Mark 7 where the Lord Jesus has confronted the religious leaders who had come to Galilee from Jerusalem to try to discredit Him. When we are not being defined by the Lord, we are most threatened by Him when He so works in our lives in order to arrest control of our lives away from us. This is why the religious leaders of Jesus' day had such a hard time with Him. They weren't willing to acknowledge Him for who He was, and, they were not willing to let Him have control over their lives.
In v.8-9 of today's passage we read, "8 You have stopped following the commands of God, and you follow only human teachings.” 9 Then Jesus said to them, “You cleverly ignore the commands of God so you can follow your own teachings."
Somewhere along the way, the religious leaders had rejected their worship of the God of the Bible and they were being defined by their definitions of all things. It is so easy for the truth to be lost from one generation to another. This is why we must be diligent, on a daily basis, to bow our wills to Him, so that His truth perpetuates in and through our lives to the generations that follow.
In v.10-11 of today's passage we read, "10 Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Anyone who says cruel things to his father or mother must be put to death.’ 11 But you say a person can tell his father or mother, ‘I have something I could use to help you, but it is Corban—a gift to God.’"
The Lord Jesus used the fifth of the ten commandments to make His point here. To honor our parents partly means when they are old, we should take care of them. The religious leaders who came from Jerusalem this particular day had figured out a way around the fifth command by what they called "Corban" which was a way of dedicating their bank account to the Lord, prohibiting them from taking care of the needs of the parents. The word "Corban" is only found in this passage and it literally means: "devoted to God as a gift."
Anything the religious leaders had dedicated to God, they were not required to let people in need use, even their own parents. They got around the commandment of God by inventing a human tradition. It was the equivalent of when someone makes up a will and decides to donate their property to a benevolent organization when they die. But while they're alive they still have full use of it until they die. These religious leaders had come up with this idea so that they would not have to take care of their parents in their old age. The religious leaders kept the law, but not God's law, and, in so doing, they appeared to be in relationship with God but they were not.
In v.12-13 of today's passage we read, "12 You no longer let that person use that money for his father or his mother. 13 By your own rules, which you teach people, you are rejecting what God said. And you do many things like that."
In context here, the Lord Jesus traced for us what it looks like when the traditions of men supersede His Word. We go the way of these religious leaders when we fail to understand the point of God's definitions of all things, and, our need to allow Him to define us. Throughout the Bible, God gives us His definitions of all things in order to reiterate what life is really all about: "His desire to define us for our good." But, we have replaced His definitions instead with ours, thinking we know better than He.
God's goal is the apprehension of our hearts, but He never forces His truth upon us. He desires for this process to be organic and thus real. Instead of giving Him our hearts, we fall into the trap of giving Him our stuff like our money, time, and interests. Subconsciously we do not allow Him access to the vulnerable spots in our hearts. This is where tradition begins, by not being defined by God, and then, we substitute His Word with ours.
All of this leads us to not loving others as we ought. This is what religious people do, they embrace ritual without reality. And, ritualism without reality leads us to the lack of righteousness and the subsequent trusting relationships we desire and need. And, without a personal relationship with God, ritualism profits us nothing; it is just stale old religion that we all disdain.
The religious leaders saw their sins in their sins, but they did not see their sins in their religion. The solution for such hypocrisy is repentance. We must be careful to embrace God for ourselves. Even though we may be in a relationship with God, we can fall into these religious patterns. The problem with this is trying to make it through this life on our own. The answer is to be embraced by God on a daily basis and to be subsequently defined by Him. We are being defined by God when we walk in obedience to His Word. It is not that we earn His favor, we can never do that; It is that we are being defined by Him for our good and for His glory.