And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! -‭‭Mark‬ ‭7:9‬ ‭(NIV)

Jesus had a way of cutting to the chase. In Mark 7, we see various groups trying to trip up Jesus with fine print and trick questions. But Jesus told them that they were just getting in the way of God’s people pursuing God.

Whether it’s the new year, or any time of year, it’s worth praying to the Holy Spirit to help us discern distortion or barriers between us and God. Jesus would, at the drop of a hat, exhibit righteous anger at those obstructing pure, direct relationship with God. Remember how He told His own apostles to get out of the way when children wanted to talk to Him? Remember how He would overturn the tables of vendors and money changers when they would distract worshippers from going deeper into the temple?

As it was with them, we are also obstructed from God through obfuscation and distortion. Many teachers will deftly use longstanding traditions and distractions (like feel-good theology) to make you think you’re going directly to God through His son, but they’re instead siphoning your funds and attention. What can you do about it?

Stick with God’s inerrant Word as the lens and litmus test to sniff out the falsehoods and barriers between you and God. It might be false doctrines. It might be customs you’re long accustomed to. But are they biblical? Search God’s Word to find out. Pray that the Spirit gives you the discernment to take notice of what has been under your nose the whole time.

It’s all about our direct relationship with the Lord, not the manmade constructs and filters of religion and tradition.