Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

2nd Sunday after Sleebo - the Festival of Cross

Human Traditions and Divine Commands (Matthew 15:1-20)

by Joe R. Price, evangelist

Gospel: St. Matthew 15:1-20


1. The opponents of Jesus become increasingly frustrated as His fame spreads, Matt 14:34-36 (15:1); Mk 6:53-56.

2. One conflict that repeatedly surfaced was the one between honoring human traditions instead of God’s commands.

3. Matt 15:1-20: Practical for us: How we respect the commands of God and where our obedience must begin.


A. Tradition is a Doctrine and Practice that is Handed Down.

1. From man to man through men, Mk 7:13; Matt 7:29.

2. From God to man through inspired men, 2 Ths 2:15; 3:4.

B. Demanding Human Traditions be Kept Binds Where God has not Bound, Matt 15:2.

1. Demands conformity to the traditions of men for approval.

a. Tradition of the elders: Washings, Matt 15:2.

b. Accept and bind with power as if from God! Mk 7:2-5 (4)

2. Man made authority that binds where the Lord gives liberty (loosed), Rom 14:3-8. Heb 13:9.

3. Establishes parameters of purity based on human reasoning, not God’s revelation, Mk 7:2 (defiled=unwashed); 7:4 (hold).

* 4. Illus. Circum. for salvation (Acts 15:1); Prayer language; One container (cup); baptism formula; number of Sunday services; race to courthouse; precise wording in div. papers.

5. It is the extremism that rushes to expose all who do not conform to the human tradition. cf. Phil 3:2; cf. Matt 23:15

C. Diminishes the Importance of God’s Commands, Matt 15:3-6

1. Marked by zeal, cf. Gal 1:14.

2. Zeal without knowledge, Rom 10:2; cf. Matt 15:4-5 (6).

3. Transgress and reject God’s commands for man’s tradition, Matt 15:3; Mk 7:8-9.

4. Renders God’s command “of no effect” (void), Matt 15:6.

D. It is Born of Pride and Breeds Hypocrisy, Matt 15:3, 7-9.

1. The arrogance of elevating human will above God’s word.

2. Reveals a heart that is far from God.

* 3. Hypocrisy: Pretending to be for God but denying Him in practice (Matt 23:3), Matt 23:14 (for the sake of appearance).

E. It is Offended by the Bold Preaching of Truth that Exposes its Sinfulness, Matt 15:12-14.

1. We need boldness to make the gospel known, Eph 6:19-20.

2. Use great boldness of speech to persuade men, 2 Cor 3:12.

3. Truth conflicts with man’s traditions: we must speak it! Acts 13:44-46; 20:20, 27; Col 2:8, 20-23

4. When truth offends, the problem is with the one offended.

F. It Blinds and Hardens Hearts to the Truth, Matt 15:13-14.

1. Those who hold to (bind) human tradition invariably think they have true spiritual sight, cf. Jno 9:40-41.

2. “We know…”, Jno 9:24. Why? Because Jesus violated their tradition about the Sabbath! Jno 9:14

3. Refusal to be taught keeps one blind and lost, Jno 9:29-34.


A. Obedience Requires Sincerity (Genuine) of Heart, Matt 15:8.

1. Hear and understand, Matt 15:10.

2. What comes out of the mouth defiles person, Matt 15:11, 17-18.

3. Sincere heart does not fight against what God says, cf. 15:5.

4. God has not planted the plant of tradition that rejects the commands of God! 15:13

5. “What does the Scripture say?” must be our committed concern and stance, Rom 4:3 (Gal 4:30).

B. Requires Fearing God more than People, Matt 10:28; Eccl 12:13 (2 Cor 5:11)

1. God is impartial; He does not prefer one person’s traditions over another – He rejects them all as affecting salvation and fellowship with Him! Acts 10:34-35

2. He demands that all fear Him and obey Him.

C. Obedience Knows that the Defilement of Sin begins in the Heart, Matt 15:15-20.

1. Evil thoughts, evil motives, evil lusts form the basis of all outward sins.

2. Sin begins in the heart; the heart must be cleansed to be freed from sin, Matt 23:25-26; Rom 6:12-18 (obey from the heart).


1. Defiled hearts cling to and demand compliance to human traditions at the expense of God’s commands.

2. Hearts fully given to God will carefully follow the doctrine of the apostles of Christ with a pure heart, 2 Tim 3:10; 1 Tim 4:6.

Copyright © 2000 Bible Answers; Used with Permission

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Sermons and Bible Commentary/Analysis for the 2nd sunday after Sleebo

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