Human rules mostly benefit the external.
See Colossians 2:20-23 “20If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21“Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22(which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.”
We should always exercise caution when instituting practices, even good ones, because they can become more ceremony that does not relate to the desired spiritual focus.
I alluded to this is my sermon yesterday, but even good things we do can become nothing more than a show. Mt. 23:23,
“”Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.”
This shows what I mentioned already that even good things can become more ceremony.
Q: what are churches doing when they make baptism “necessary but not essential” or when they sprinkle sinless, unbelieving, and unrepentant babies? The command of God where salvation is supposed to happen becomes for show/outward sign/ ceremony.
People will pivot on this point and say that baptism and the Lord’s Supper IS just ceremony and that God doesn’t care about them.
Q: how do you respond to them?
Answer: What God commands He does not command for ceremony. Assigned to baptism and the Lord’s Supper is rich meaning and purpose.
Notice that Jesus did not tell the Pharisees to NOT tithe “mint, dill, and cumin”. He said, “You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”
This is what happens when ceremony is the focus: the weightier things are neglected.
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