Last week I shared the history of the Pharisees and how their Oral Law became greater than the written Law of God - and that is where Jesus' issues with them centered - not on the Word, but on their Oral Law exalted above the Word of God.
How Oral Law became religion
The Pharisees' teaching that became their Oral Law was initially motivated by a desire not to offend God. When God said not to work on Saturday, in Exodus 20:8-11, He just said 'take a day off!'. But the Pharisees decided they didn't want to do any work lest they offend, so decided they needed to set a limit to how far a person could walk before it would be work.
The Pharisee's decided 'a Sabbath's Day walk' was about .25 mile/.5 km without it being work. And that Oral Law became more important than Moses' Law which simply said 'don't work'. God's intention was that each person would know Him, know their own heart, and know when they were working or not.
Now imagine hundreds of rules like the Sabbath Day walk, over and above the Law of Moses, over and above allowing people to truly know God and interpret how to walk with Him, governing every aspect of a Jewish person's life with a whole legal culture firmly established by the time Jesus started His ministry.
The Oral Law took personal decision away from individuals and replaced it with increasingly complex Oral Laws that dictated from the pulpit what the people should do for every situation, ailment, issue, and crisis. As a result, the Ministers in Jesus' time became controllers of the people, always looking over their shoulders ready to point out any infraction to their Oral Law.
You are responsible. Oral Law removes this
For the people, their walk with God became one of works and performance. Their walk with God became laced with fear that they might do something wrong, make Him angry, or in some other way offend one of the Oral Traditions. They began measuring their righteousness by how they performed. If they went 1/2 mile or a full kilometer, violating the Sabbath's Day walk rule, they felt God was so displeased that He might not answer their prayer - so off they went to offer a sacrifice to God to appease Him. They lost sight of the Word of God because all they were taught was the Oral Law. They were scripturally illiterate.
The Oral Law removed any relationship with God and replaced it with a relationship with Oral Law and religion, making the people solely dependent on what their teachers said - they didn't truly know God.
Our first clue
This is our first clue on how to discern between the Word and Holy Spirit, and a teaching that is contrary to the Word and Spirit: Does the teaching lead you to know God, require personal responsibility, and direct a person to chapter and verse; Or is it based on formula and performance? Does it produce fear of failure? Is it based on knowing God is leading you because you know in your spirit this is so, or does someone tell you what you should do?
Modern example of Oral Law: Give your way to prosperity
The prosperity doctrine is largely based on giving - and giving - and giving - and God in turn will bless, heal, increase, turn around - your life. It is all focused on this one thing you do and then God will do His thing like a winning Las Vegas slot machine. In fact the Bible is full of instruction on money all revolving around personal responsibility: No signing as a guarantor on a note, no impulse spending, work hard, save, budget, divine revelation and following God's leading, changing your ability to handle money, and so forth.
Giving is only 1 part of the larger whole, yet Oral Law today ignores the weightier matters of God's Word about money in favor of fluff. There is no call to live on a budget, pay your debts as a means of getting out of debt, include giving as a part of an overall plan with your money, doing the hard work to be a good steward of all God gives you. NO! Just give and you don't have to be responsible for your own life. Just give and God will do the rest. That's not the Word & Spirit!
Another example: Grace run wild
The 'grace' teaching that says we don't have to ask forgiveness because 'grace' has covered it all. That teaching requires no accountability, no humility, no responsibility for one's actions. It is nothing more than Oral Law that has become elevated above God's Word. As Jude 4 says: "Don't be like some who turn the grace of God into a license for sin."
The Bible teaches that grace has accountability. Noah received grace to build a boat - but he was immediately responsible to live in that grace and start building - if he didn't walk in that grace he would drown. Moses received grace at the burning bush, but he was immediately accountable to head back to Egypt to walk that grace out. You are saved by grace, now you are responsible to live for God in that grace. Bible says grace without responsibility isn't grace. Oral Tradition says grace is without accountability. Which are you going to believe?
Here is another: The devil made me do it
There is legitimate deliverance as seen in the Gospels and Acts - there is no doubt. But in my 38+ years of walking with the Lord, the vast majority of deliverance's, maybe 99% or more, comes through people obeying the Word - actually becoming a doer of the Word.
There is a stream of faith that sees a demon behind every character flaw, and often they can tie it back to mom or dad or a grandparent's sin or this or that. They are so busy looking in their rearview mirror for who caused them to be haunted and oppressed that they neglect just doing the Word of God NOW in their life.
When a person determines to become a doer of the Word, actually doing the battle of the mind to take every thought captive to obedience in Christ and stop sinning, to actually just decide to forgive and work through the emotions involved, to just do and think like God says; the demon(s) finds no more place, and just leaves of his own accord. That's what happens in maybe 99% of all deliverance's - the person just starts living the Word, and the demons leave as the person matures to become more Christ-like.
Be a thinker and know God
The Oral Law can't think. Yet you are created to think, and God's Word requires us to think for ourselves and walk it out in relationship with God. It may be easier on the flesh to put our trust in formula and religion and tradition and call it God, but you won't receive from the Lord that way. Knowing the Lord takes work, time, and determination. There are no short cuts. Oral Tradition outwardly appears easier, but once in its grasp, it is a hard task master, full of condemnation, fear, disgust of self, and a certain realization you don't really know the Lord. That is the reality of the Oral Tradition of modern day Pharisee's.
Now, don't you want to know how to know His voice so you can keep from these traps? Next week!