Titus 1:12-14 One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. 13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; 14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is time to obey the verses above. It is time for the church to ignore the commands of men—totally disregard them, forget that they ever existed, leave them in the dust—and obey the commands of God. It is time to ignore the Jewish fables of commands dragged from the Old Covenant and burdened upon the members of the New Covenant. It is time to follow Christ.
I don’t know why these verses never struck home to me as they did a few days ago. All of a sudden, I realized that God had specifically told us to disregard the commands of men. This is very important. I grew up in the Mennonite Church until I was 14. I was homeschooled in Bill Gothard’s homeschool program and listened to his teachings. I have heard many preachers preach. Over the years, I have believed that certain things were necessary in order to be a good Christian—things that God has never told us to do.
Is this your story as well—or a variation of it? Then God has a message for you:
Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
God tells us that to be sound in the faith, we must not give heed to the commandments of men. We must evaluate what we believe and throw out the stupid commands that we have imbibed that never came from God. If God didn’t think it was important enough to command us about, it certainly isn’t something for us to make up a command about. It is very serious to add to God’s Words and require people to obey our words. That is setting up ourselves as God. God specifically tells us that we are all equals in the Kingdom of God:
Matthew 23:8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
God commanded us to “Be subject to the higher powers” (Romans 13:1) and “Children, obey your parents in all things” (Colossians 3:20), so parents and the government have the right to make rules and laws for those who are under them. Beyond that, however, no one has the authority to make commands for the rest of God’s children to keep. As followers of Jesus, we need to lay aside every weight:
Hebrews 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
If we are to run the race, we must lay aside the weights of man’s commands that burden us down, or else we will not have the strength to finish the race.
Let me give you an example from my own life. For most of my life, I never wore short pants for anything except pajamas. From about five years old, it was long pants, no matter how hot the day—the one exception being playing in the creek! Even after leaving the Mennonite Church, I dressed much the same as I always had. It wasn’t until about year ago that it finally dawned on me that there was absolutely no command in Scripture that forbids a man to wear shorts! My father had already started wearing shorts, and I had started wearing them occasionally, but suddenly, I realized that I didn’t need to worry about the twinges of a misguided conscience that said, “But Joel, don’t you know that men shouldn’t wear shorts?” No, I don’t know that anymore. There is nothing in the Bible that says it is a sin for a man’s lower leg to be visible. Forbidding shorts is merely a command of men that causes us to turn from the truth.
Jesus warns us:
Mark 7:6-7 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Matthew 15:7-9 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Jesus tells us that the commandments of men actually cause our worship of God to be vain. That is incredible! The very thing that is supposed to keep us close to God actually makes our worship worthless! Do you want your worship to be worthless? I sure don’t.
Watch out for man’s teaching that pretends to be God’s teaching. Perhaps you have been dragged down by something like the modesty myth that I referenced above. The King James Bible actually says that women should adorn themselves in “modest apparel”. However, God never states what that “modest apparel” would look like. In the absence of a command from God, many people, such as myself, have added to God’s commands and come up with modesty rules that state how much of woman’s body must be covered in order to be “modest”. What a farce! Is it a sin for a woman’s upper arm to be visible? No! God could have stated as much if He had so desired. Yet, many women would feel guilty about wearing a sleeveless top because someone told them that it would be “immodest” and therefore disobedience to God. That is called bondage!
Are you ready to leave behind the commands of men and obey Jesus alone? Are you going to keep obeying the commands of your church, your favorite author, the radio preacher, the homeschool conference speaker or the friend who will look down on you if you don’t keep their pet command of men? Are you going to fear man more than you fear God? I beg you, don’t! “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.” (Proverbs 29:25)
Drop the commands of men and run!