Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for

doctrines the commandments of men.

Mark 7:7

     In this particular phase of his defense of God's people seeking out Sabbath-breakers and purchasing the fruit of their labor, Mr. Ritenbaugh attempts to link the authors of A Sabbath Test with the Pharisees of Jesus' day. He also tries to dismiss dining out on the Sabbath as trivial, much the same as ceremonial washing was in Jesus' day.



John Ritenbaugh:

Mark 7:1-2

Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashed, hands, they found fault.

"That sounds like a really big transgression there, to eat with hands that they considered to be defiled. We probably never even stop in many cases. We just go right ahead without even thinking. That is what the disciples did. They did not see any problem with it, but to the Pharisees, it was offensive. In this case Jesus needed to straighten them out and to get their priorities in the right order, at the right level."

Mark 7:6-9

He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaiah prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things you do. And he said unto them, Full well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition.

"He called the Pharisees, who made every appearance of being more righteous than everybody else, hypocrites who rejected the commandments of God."

"Brethren, to the Pharisees Jesus was very liberal, but who was it that God honored? It was the liberal Jesus. I mean Jesus was not really liberal. He was balanced right down the line with everything, but in this issue He was way to the left of them."


Our Response:

     The real irony to the point Mr. Ritenbaugh is making is that the example he cites actually indicts the practice he advocates. That's right! The very thing this COG leader defends is a "tradition" that flies in the face of God's law. This is what Jesus was condemning.

     The fact that the disciples failed to participate in ceremonial washing, which was an elaborate show, contradicted NOTHING in God's word. Even the Pharisees knew this. In other words, there was no command in scripture that required such a thing. The Pharisees were defending their TRADITION, not God's law.

     The great deception in Mr. Ritenbaugh's use of these verses is that he wants his audience to think that going to a restaurant on holy time is no different than refusing to engage in some unbiblical ritual. The error in this thinking is that although the Bible doesn't prohibit what the disciples did, it does prohibit what Mr. Ritenbaugh does.

     The scriptures speak with great force concerning the tradition Mr. Ritenbaugh advocates. God's word thoroughly CONDEMNS the acquisition of food, the preparation of food, the purchasing of food, and the soliciting of labor on the Sabbath. Despite this fact, John Ritenbaugh is convinced that he can engage in this sin because he lives in an open society. Furthermore, he accuses those who choose to believe God's word as being Pharisees. But just who is the Pharisee? In other words: who is defending a tradition? And who is defending God's command?




The Utility Defense

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