traditionFinally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh. –Philippians 3:1-3

Men, Paul has warned the Philippians before to watch out for false teachers. Again, Paul revisits the subject for their own well-being. These false teachers were committed to hindering the gospel or at least contaminating it with traditional ideology. Common among their false teaching was the traditional teaching of circumcision. Traditional circumcision was appointed by God as an outward sign of Hebrew/Jewish lineage back to Abraham and the Abrahamic covenant and promises. In other words, for a time, to be circumcised was to be identified as persons of God. Traditionalists focused on keeping the rules of God but neglected a desire for the presence of God from within their hearts.

Our hearts gravitate toward fleshly and worldly things. True circumcision is worshipping God in Spirit. Our flesh, our rules, and our traditions may point to problems, they may erect guardrails, and model approved behaviors, but True Circumcision disregards all flesh to pursue the Spirit. This is tricky to communicate in type. This is NOT an abandonment of good customs and practices. But instead, Paul is announcing that we are no longer identified as people of God by our traditions. We are now identified by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and our personal connection to worship from the Spirit.

In our time, we might say, heaven is not a reward for perfect church attendance. Traditions abound here in the southeastern U.S. Many attend Sunday services from habit. Family heritages can be traced back to the times of our founding and every generation attended church in the same town center. It makes great history, but is not a passport to Kingdom. Circumcision had been a practice for over 1500 years at Paul’s letter, but never produced a heart of worship to God in the Spirit.

Move forward men, questioning our hearts intent with traditions. Are we being obedient to the Lord God, or to rules handed down? Are we seeking Oneness or perfection?

Vance Durrance

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Breaking Tradition

Breaking TraditionWhile he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.” –Matthew 27:19

Men, Pontius Pilate has reviewed the case against Jesus, found no fault in Him, and now stands Barabbas beside Jesus and asks the people to make a choice between the 2.  One will be released. At that moment, Pilate’s wife interrupts by a messenger. She sends word to her husband, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.”

In this time, regardless of religion, it was unusual for a wife to interrupt a husband from an official role. Some extra Biblical sources suggest that this wife may have become a convert to Judaism, but not likely until this point or later. In addition, this dream came before Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was loosed upon mankind in Acts 2.

Like the question Peter answered earlier, “Who do you say that I am?” When the question holds the weight of eternity, it seems that those who are available for the gift of hearing from heaven are imparted with clarity on the matter at hand.

As Peter knew and answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” this wife also knew Jesus was a “just man”. Like Peter, flesh and blood hasn’t revealed this knowledge to her. She sent word via messenger to say she had “suffered much”. Clearly there is deep conflict within her heart. How often do people breach traditional protocols because of a dream? The “suffering” she experienced because of the dream must have been at deep odds with what she thought she knew, and what was expected of her under normal circumstances.

How available are we to hear from heaven? We could argue that her hearing from heaven was positional, being the wife of the man trying Jesus in a capital case. Even so, she also had the option to dismiss the dream and hold tightly to the gods of Rome. This woman recognized truth and validity in a dream and acted upon it with the power she had.

Move forward in like manner! Make the choice if granted heavenly truth. Test all things by the Word of God, and obey His voice.

Vance Durrance

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