by haRold Smith
based in Jerusalem, Israel
"So Yeshua said to those Jews which believed on Him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." They answered him, "We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, 'You will become free'?" Yeshua answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.
"Those Jews which believed on Him, answered him, "Abraham is our father." Yeshua said to them, "If you were Abraham�s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did." They said to him, "We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father - even God." Yeshua said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but He sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father�s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.
"Then those Jews which had believed on Him said, "Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?" Yeshua answered, "I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and He is the judge. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word, he will never see death. " The Jews said to him, "Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, 'If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.' Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?" Yeshua answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, 'He is our God.' But you have not known Him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day He saw it and was glad." So the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" Yeshua said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am." So they picked up stones to throw at Him to kill Him, but Yeshua hid himself and went out of the temple." John 8:31-59
This is an astonishing, amazingly revealing passage of scripture. In the course of 30 verses a group of believers in Yeshua move from a position of embracing Him to wanting to kill Him. What would cause such a radical change to so quickly overcome people who proclaimed their loyalty to Him? What was it He said that so offended them? "If you abide, dwell in, live My Words only then are you considered to be My disciples and only then will you know Who Truth is (the Father) and only then will you be set free from your sin."
Their response was to question Yeshua's statement based on the tradition that had been handed down to them - that of being Abraham's children (how many "believers" today claim to be of Abraham's seed?). Now, what they were saying was true, that is, the words they spoke came from the pages of the Book - Yeshua even acknowledged that He knew what they were saying was written. However, as He continued to explain to them that what they said they believed with their mouth had no bearing on where and how their spirit was captured, that it was their behavior that indicated such � these believers began to defend their tradition rather than being receptive to the possibility that, because these words of Truth did not fit into their traditional way of thinking, perhaps they needed to be given deeper consideration. In their anger of resistance, they then tried to negate Yeshua's words by relegating Him to either a cult status or as being demon possessed when all He was doing was revealing how they could be free. In the very act of defending their tradition, they chose to close themselves off to Truth. Eventually, it led them into a position of murder, thinking they were doing God's will (John 16:1-2 click on highlighted verse to see scripture).
In all of scripture, there is only ONE thing Yeshua ever pointed to that could effectively negate, nullify and make void the Word of God in our lives (Yeshua being the personification of that Word). That one thing is the tradition we embrace that has been handed down to us by other men. Why is that? Essentially, it is because tradition is a lie - regardless of how well intended it might be, how rationally it might be constructed or how religiously it is packaged. YHVH is Truth and it is the Essence of His Nature and Character of Truth that the words of the Book reveal to us � not a religion. Therefore, anything apart from Truth is a lie. This is how Yeshua was able to tell those believers in Him that their father was the devil, the father of lies � because what we do, what we serve, is indicative of what we believe; what we give ourselves to is what we serve behaviorally. What we serve is who we worship. (Mark 7:13, John 1:1-14, Matthew 6:24, Deut. 11:16, Luke 4:8, To Make Manifest).
"Therefore, having put away falsehood (lying), let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no place to the devil. " Ephesians 4:25-27
The Hebrew word for "hear" is shama`. In Isaiah 1:19, this Hebrew word is translated "obedient". In Hebrew to hear IS to obey, to obey IS to hear. How we obey, how we serve what we hear is indicative of what we believe. Thus, Yeshua's words could find no place in these believers in Yeshua because that place was already being occupied by their tradition. In order to create a place where His words of Truth, of Life, could abide, they would have to abandon a tradition they had invested a considerable portion of their lives in. Consequently, He said they were not of God because the tradition they insisted on serving would not allow them to hear the words of Truth. This is an astounding statement to make to people who consider themselves to be of God. There is a vast difference between knowing what is true and knowing Who is Truth. Truth and lies are like Light and darkness. They cannot occupy the same space at the same time. They are mutually exclusive � you will either have Truth or you will have a lie. God is Light and everything else is darkness. Thus, you will either believe the Light of Truth or you will remain in a belief that is made up of emptiness, of darkness. The absence of Light is the definition of darkness. There is no middle ground. Truth is Life and darkness is death � thus, Yeshua could say that whoever immerses himself in the Life of His Word (and He continually said His Word was not His but the Father's), that person would not taste of the death that results in a separation from the Father of Life, Who Is Light. (Isaiah 28:23, John 14:24, 1John 1:5, see the Law of Grace).
These believers had elevated the words on the page above what the words on the page were given for � to reveal, understand and imitate the Essence of the Nature and Character of YHVH. This is why Yeshua said that if they were truly children of Abraham, as they claimed, they would be doing the works of Abraham. Genesis 26:5 tells us that what those works of Abraham were � obeying the Voice of the Father by keeping His Commandments, statutes and ordinances. Instead, they were rationalizing their behavior by defending the tradition and doctrine handed down to them that allowed them to excuse their behavior and still feel righteous. That everyone else they associated with behaved the same way only reinforced the rightness of that tradition in their own eyes. Thus, they could not comprehend, could not "bear to hear" His words that righteousness, right standing with God, is behavioral. That would force them into changing their approach to their way of thinking � what they had come to believe as being Truth. (Proverbs 21:2, see the the Righteousness of the Law).
In order to KNOW Truth, we must fashion ourselves after Who Truth says He is. This is how Yeshua did it. He said He knows the Father because He keeps the words of the Father. What words were those? - the words of the Commandments. This is the definition of a talmid, the Hebrew word for a disciple � one who bends his will to conform to the example of the Master. The disciple does not tell the Master what it is he will conform to. (John 15:10),
What is tradition? The definition of tradition comes from the Greek word paradosis and means to give up, to surrender. We give up access to the Truth when we surrender ourselves to someone else's interpretation of the Truth - consequently, we miss Truth altogether. Why do we embrace tradition? Because it is comfortable and it gives us a convenient place to point to for answers to things we neither entirely understand nor have the desire to sort out on our own. It is easier to place the responsibility on some man to teach us instead of going to the Father and digging it out for ourselves. The main component of this approach results in an embrace of the doctrines of others that are wrapped in their own interpretations. (1John 2:27, see the 2Peter1:20).
Tradition is the instrument used by the devil to set aside or marginalize the words of the Father given to us in Torah � even though it may use scripture to try to support it. How many times have you heard the phrase "we are believers in the Book"? The words on the pages of the Book speak of the One Who Is Life, but they do not contain Life. Yeshua said as much in John 5:24 We should not believe in a book that can be destroyed � our belief should be in the One Who Is Life that can never be destroyed. Tradition is the embrace of any teaching or doctrine that does not come from the mouth of the One True God of Israel; no matter how plausible the argument, no matter how religious it sounds. Yeshua repeatedly said the words He spoke were not His but those of the Father's � the words of YHVH. (John 5:24, 1John 5:3, see the Arrows of Famine).
Where does tradition come from? Yeshua spoke to this question in Matthew 5:43 when He stated, ��you have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy'." He does not say, "It is written" as He often does when citing other passages of Torah. He was commenting on a popular teaching about enemies, not what is written in scripture. If you look at the passage Yeshua was referencing in Leviticus 19:18, you won�t find the second part of this expression. In fact, what you will find is an entire section devoted to the care and concern for your neighbor one should have. There is not one word about hating your enemy. Most of the verses relating to enemies are found in chapters 26 and 27 where the discussion is about what will happen with enemies when the people are obedient and when they are not. While there are descriptions about pursuing enemies when the people are obedient, there is nothing about hating enemies.
So, how did those words become injected alongside scripture to be held as authentic as scripture? Some teachers of His day, in distinguishing between love for a neighbor and hatred for an enemy, expanded the scripture by adding "and hate your enemy� to the existing words. Why they did this was to further some agenda or point they were trying to make. How many sermons do you hear preached today that have nothing to do with the Life of YHVH but, yet, are encased with scripture? Yeshua rejects this folk wisdom as incompatible with the Father's Nature. If we are to emulate the behavior of the Father, we will do what He did � love our enemies and do good to those who reject and despise us. Yeshua points the listeners away from the traditional understanding and toward the deeper principle of the Torah. That deeper principle is based in the character of the compassion of the Father expressed in Luke 6:35 � that He is kind to the unthankful and the evil). When we express YHVH�s character, we fulfill the requirements of the Torah.
Likewise, today, we are surrounded by and immersed in tradition that has been handed down to us through the centuries everywhere we turn. We think we are different from these "Jews" because the Church system has taught that, since Yeshua's life, death, and resurrection 2000 years ago was the fulfillment of the Torah and the Prophets, we are no longer subject to the statutes, laws, and ordinances contained therein � that is a lie. Torah is much more than rules and regulations; it is the Word of Life, the Word that is the same yesterday, today and forever. To the dismay of many who read this, however, nowhere does scripture say those Words have been set aside. In fact, Yeshua said just the opposite in Matthew 5:17 that He did not come to do away with the Torah and in John 5:46-47 that if you do not believe the writings of Moses how can you believe His words? Did He not mean what He said? If He didn't mean what He said here, then what does that lead us to believe about the rest of the words He said? Men try to explain away His Words by using other passages of scripture to contradict His Word = but Who Is the Word? They want to explain away His Words so as to not be held accountable to those words � because it is His words that judge us John 12:47-48. To nullify His Words by using other scripture is to do exactly the same thing these believers were doing in John 8. (John 1:1-14, see the Law of 100%, and the Judgment).
Tradition knows no boundaries, recognizes no borders and is completely accommodating to anyone who will embrace it. Thus, it is rather curious to hear "Christians" excuse the traditions of Christmas, Easter, the Rapture, and being born again as being worthwhile to uphold. These are all traditions that have leeched their way into the lives of professing
believers in Yeshua that do not originate from the Essence of His Nature and are not validated by the over-arching Character of the Father revealed in scripture. These come instead from the agenda of the devil to promote through men traditions that will captivate the unwary and lead them away from the Truth. If we know the Truth, why then would we want to invest ourselves in and settle for lies that, by our behavior, ultimately teach our children to believe in the same lies? (Exodus 34:1-7).
To remain free from deception means to be vigilant to scrutinize everything we have been taught against the Life of Yeshua - the benchmark by which everything, including other scripture, is to be measured. Yeshua is the embodiment of everything that has been written in the Torah and the Prophets. With the exception of one verse of scripture recorded in John 13:34-35. that He said was new, everything Yeshua spoke can be referenced back in the Tenakh, the Original Book. Thus, those who reject Moses and the Torah or any of the prophets, or think that they have been done away with, are rejecting the very "spirit of prophecy" which is the testimony of the Life of Yeshua. (Revelation 19:10, see also Pure or Perverse).
What is the result of defending tradition? These believers Yeshua addressed at the opening of this article sought to imitate the works of their father � they sought to kill the One Who exemplified the Father. The Hebrew word for kill in Exodus 20:13 is ratsach< and means to murder, premeditate slaying, as an avenger. In the same way Yeshua said that lusting in our heart is the same as having already committed adultery, 1John 3:15 equates hatred toward our brother the same as being a murderer. The Greek word used for hate in this verse means to despise, disparage, detest and in Luke 6:22, Yeshua extends that definition to include a "separation from their company". The question then arises � "who is my brother?" Not my neighbor � my brother. 1John 2:29 tells us it is whoever practices righteousness that has been born of Him � that's behavioral. The only two places in scripture where this Greek word anthropoktonos (murderer) appears is here and in John 8 above. (Luke 8:21, John 16:1-2).
"Has YHVH as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying His Voice ? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. 1Samuel 15:22
How do we define what is Truth and what is a lie? Yeshua said in this passage it is in KNOWING the Father for Who He says He Is - Who is Truth. How many of us are there today who profess to be believers of Yeshua's Way can actually hear the Truth of the words written on the pages of the Book coming from His Mouth without trying to qualify them? How much of what we believe is merely the tradition of men that has been handed down to us? How much do we just accept as being true because that is what has come from and has been "taught" by "learned" men? How much is because of what we have heard from the Father? (John 17:3, see what it means Who's Word?).
So, how do we know if what we are hearing is Truth? Yeshua said He has sent us Ruach haKodesh (the Holy Spirit) to guide us into all Truth. He will not speak of Himself - but only Yeshua, Who is Truth. The Life of Yeshua should be the benchmark by which we measure everything - including other scripture. If it is not recorded in His Life or Words, we should, at the very least, hold it highly suspect until Ruach haKodesh brings to us His revelation over it. The defining evidence of that infilling is given throughout the book of Acts as speaking in tongues. Without the presence of Ruach haKodesh in our lives, we lack the Power we need to hear, to be guided into Truth and to be obedient. We are to be in relationship with the One True God of Israel. It is that relationship that saves us and sets us free. It is why there are few that find it, preferring instead to settle for the traditions handed to them by other men. (John 16:13, Acts 1:8, Matthew 7:13-14, see Hearing His Voice, and the One Covenant series).
When we embrace the traditions handed down to us by men, we believe a lie perpetrated and promoted by the father of lies � the devil. If it does not proceed from the mouth of YHVH, Who is Truth, it can only be a lie. If we believe a lie by embracing, endorsing and defending it � then our behavior speaks of who our father is. The only Way to keep ourselves in Truth is to train our ear to hear the Word of Truth by obeying that Truth. How much of what we believe today comes from us hearing the words of the Father for ourselves and how much is tradition?
"He said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead'." Luke 16:31