God is very specific about how He wants His people to worship Him. He clearly outlines His expectations of how this should and should not be done in His Word. If we want to be honorable servants to His Word, we will work hard to not twist and distort His Word and expectations to meet our own personal agendas, preferences, or gain. To do so otherwise brings into question our devotion to Christ.
In this world, we can easily succumb to the wiles (tricks and schemes) of the devil not simply because we are human. But because this world is filled with customs that we fail to take the steps to understand the origin of these different customs. It is easier for us to just accept them without questioning is this something I and my family should participate in? Or even more importantly, is this a practice not only would God approve, but would He Himself join in the celebration with us?
Most of us are so enticed by customs and celebrations because we simply want to fit in and not stand out. Because it is basically natural and easier to do what everyone else is doing. And simply because this is what has been passed down to us from our parents. We as a human race refuse to question or challenge some of the things that have been passed down to us. And that in itself can be the thing that can bring us to ruin. Our failure to question. Our failure to investigate and verify things for ourselves. (Compare to Acts 11:17). Even when these things are passed down to us by our parents.
DO NOT BE LIKE THE NATIONS
Let’s take Godly devotion and worship. As I mentioned before, God makes it clear through His Word how we should and should not worship Him. One explicit instruction He gave to His people was to not get involved in any forms of worship (this would include customs and celebrations) that the surrounding nations (worldly people) were doing.
At Leviticus chapter 18, verses 2 through 3 God said to His people. (This instruction was given to Moses). “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. I am the LORD your God. So DO NOT ACT LIKE the people in Egypt, where you use to live, or like the people of Canaan, where I am taking you. You MUST NOT IMITATE THEIR WAY OF LIFE” (NLT).
God was very clear. Whatever practices, celebrations, customs, rituals, festivals (which would be our holidays today) that the Egyptians and Canaanites (which would be similar to the nations around us today) – DO NOT BECOME LIKE THEM; DO NOT DO THE THINGS THAT THEY ARE DOING; DO NOT CELEBRATE THE THINGS THEY ARE CELEBRATING.
God calls His people to live a holy lifestyle. In doing so, He instructs His people at Deuteronomy chapter 18, verse 9. “When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO IMITATE THE DETESTABLE CUSTOMS of the nations living there (NLT). Now, in verse 10 of that same chapter, God provides a simple list of SOME of the things the people of that land were doing that were considered “detestable” to God. But He certainly did not list them all. There were a whole host of things the people of that land were doing that God did not approve that He did not want His people involved in. And the different type of festivals and celebrations the people of that land were participating in was definitely among that list of things that God was not pleased with.
GOD WILL NOT SHARE HIS WORSHIP
God was particular about how He wanted His people to worship Him. (See Luke 4:8). He was clear that He did not want His worship tainted by other man-made deities, practices, customs, or celebrations adopted and created by the surrounding nations. (See Exodus 20:3-5). He did not want to share His worship, His celebrations, His festivals that He granted His people to partake in with any other gods. Nor did He want His people to be divided on this matter. And yet, since the beginning of mankind’s history, man has ignored this warning.
The Scriptures warn, “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9, NKJV). The Greek word for “leavens” is zymoō, which means to mix leaven with dough so as to make it ferment. The Apostle Paul spoke of leaven this way. “Your glorying (boasting) is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven (yeast) leavens the whole lump? (1 Corinthians 5:6)
Here the Apostle Paul is CONDEMNING God’s people for tolerating any single small act of immorality that offends their God. It does not matter what the act is. God’s people should never tolerate any acts or behaviors or customs or celebrations or festivals that are displeasing to their God. PERIOD.
Hence why the LORD commands His people at Deuteronomy chapter 6, verses 3 through 4, “… fear the LORD your God… keep all His statutes and His commandments…. Be careful to observe it…. Hear… the LORD our God the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength."
There is no greater way to show God this kind of love than by adhering to His command to have “no other gods before” Him or “any likeness of anything” to resemble worship to Him (Exodus 20:3). For God is a jealous God and He is not willing to share His praise, worship, celebration, or devotion.
The APOSTLE PAUL COUNSEL
We as the people of God got to seriously consider the Words of the LORD deeply. Truly understanding what God means when He says, He is a jealous God and He will not tolerate the idolizing, the praising, the worshiping, nor the celebrating of any other kinds of worship. Especially those that are shared or incorporating worship that is from a pagan origin.
Here is where the problem lies for God’s people today when considering the Scriptures mentioned previously in this article. Christians today read them as if that verse only applies to God’s people during that time. They often fail to apply what they are reading to a modern time frame – according to the culture and time we are living in today. Whenever we fail to do this, then how can we fully benefit from Scriptural application in our lives today? How do we properly gain God’s heart and expectations on matters if we read His Word, particularly the Old Testament as if it is some fictional story? Especially when Paul wrote, “ALL Scripture is inspired by God and IS USEFUL TO TEACH US what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives….” (2 Timothy 3:17, NLT) Paul said that all Scripture is good for reproof (punishment, admonishment), correction, instruction (training, discipline) in righteousness….
Again, the Apostle Paul even addresses this manner at Romans chapter 15, verse 4. He said, “for whatever things were written before….” Here, this phrase, “was written before” is the Greek word prographō. This simply means to write before the eyes of all who can read. In other words, we are reading it (the Scriptures) today but these things took place before our time. Therefore, the things, the instructions, the prophesies, His laws and decrees “were written before” – notating what has taken place in the past but for our benefit today. For the Scriptures which was written before any of us were born was written for our understanding and application in the culture in which we live in today.
MODERN APPLICATION OF THE SCRIPTUREs
With that being said. We have to learn to apply the things that are spoken of in the past concerning God’s people and how they apply to us today. How do we apply them in our modern society? Failing to do so can mean not only not living up to God’s standards, expectations, will, and commands. But it can also mean the loss of our lives, our heavenly hope, for failing to live up to God’s righteous standard.
Now, before any of y’all flip and insert that I am saying something that I am not. Let me make it clear. I am not saying, people will not make it into heaven because they choose to celebrate certain pagan customs or holidays. That is not for me to judge or decide. But it does build a case against you and provides Satan the legal rights to make your life complicated and to challenged God concerning who you actually belong to – who has rights to you – him or God. It is that serious.
This is why we all must take the standards of God seriously. We must understand that He does have expectations that He expects us to adhere and live up to. We as God’s people do not get to pick and choose which standards we get to adhere to and which we can dismiss because we personally believe that principle or law no longer applies. We must dig deep and really determine what is God’s heart concerning a manner. And allow God to reveal it to us and not our culture or even our flesh (our desire or personal preferences).
Now, this leads me to speak what God has placed on my heart today.
ITS ORIGIN DOES MATTER
Customs – man-made customs are such a dangerous thing. For our participation will often lead us astray from the Father’s will and desire for His people. Bible History has proven this time and time again. Go back to Paul’s words at Galatians 5:9. A little bit, “a little bit of leaven leavens the whole lump.” In verses 7 through 12 of that chapter, Paul severely condemns false teachings and any customs or practices associated with them. The source of such practices, no matter when they originated is essential and matters to God. You cannot discredit their origin no matter how you want to flip it.
Let me be a little clearer. Many Christians have adopted such practices into their Churches and homes such as Christmas, Easter, Halloween, birthday, Valentine's Day, etc. (I used the word adopted because these customs were not established by God, but by man). Most Christians have chosen to ignore the origin of these customs and how these customs were inserted into the Church. Most Christians have failed to acknowledge how God sees the connection with such celebrations are like sharing God’s worship with another. You are incorporating something God did not establish for His people and calling it a tool being used to honor (praise and worship) God. Something that God has forbidden for His people to do.
Let’s take Christmas for instance. Some Christians make this pagan celebration acceptable by declaring such things as –
Never mind that Jesus was not born in December. Never mind that this winter solstice holiday was set up to honor Saturn, the god of sowing. That this holiday was originally established to replace the worship of the Son (Jesus Christ) with the worship of the sun (an object that God has created). Is this not what Paul warned us against in Romans chapter 1? Paul called mankind foolish because they have exchanged the truth of God for a lie. Willingly to “… worship and serve the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise!” (Verse 25, NLT).
The sad reality is that Christians claim they are using this holiday to focus on Jesus. But is this not supposed to be something we are already doing DAILY? Being that is the case, then why do we need to accept a single pagan holiday such as Christmas, that honors another god, to aid us in focusing on Jesus? It just does not make sense. It does not add up.
Not one single Christian in the Bible celebrated anything remotely similar to Christmas. Even our legal system fully understands that Christmas has nothing to do with Christ. In 1990, in Cleveland, Ohio. A court case was held by a few outraged parents against their school board concerning the separation of church and state about the Christmas celebration in their school. The board lost their case based on these court case outcomes.
As a result, the school board’s attempt to ban the Christmas celebration in their school failed because it was determined by the court that Christmas was not a religious celebration nor did it have any Biblical roots. It was a pagan (worldly) in nature since its conception. In fact, its origin can be affiliated with Roman customs and religion (false gods) and not with God’s people or even Christ.
RECOUNTING pAUL'S WORDS
Two simple research can easily prove to any Christian God’s stance on such matters.
We have to go back to what Paul said at Romans 15:4, Galatians 5:9, and the writings of Moses at Exodus 20:3-4. This custom as well as others do not bring honor nor glory to God but only glories the hands and the imaginations of man through their gift-giving to one another and entertainments (gatherings for socializing and partying activities). We must ask ourselves, is God really gaining anything from such celebrations? The answer is a resounding nothing! Celebrating such holidays are being done in vain and has no use to God.
AGREE TO DISAGREE IS A CHOICE
We cannot have it both ways. Our fleshly customs, desires, and godly worship and celebrations and the LORD our God. God renounces such sharing of His worship with any other pagan god. In fact, the LORD declares if we refuse to turn away from such pagan practices, we will become like them. (See Psalm 115:1-8).
You can agree to disagree with me. Many of God's people often agree to disagree with God's prophets, apostles, and even His Son, Jesus Christ. The fact is, it really does not matter to me one way or another. My goal here was to only speak what the LORD has placed on my heart whether you receive it or not. (Compare to Ezekiel 2:4-7; 3:17-21).
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The word of the lord
When the LORD God gives a word, it is for the sole purpose to teach, reproof, correct, or train His servants - His Body, so that every member within the Body of Christ may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). For the LORD has given the Body of Christ apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to equip the Saints for the work of service, to encourage one another, and to build up the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 Thessalonians 5:11).