Back in v. 5 Paul talks about the “obedience of faith” which hints at obedience not coming from the Law. When Paul quotes Habakkuk, it’s kind of out of context for what Habakkuk is talking about, but it still holds true. Judgment was coming on Israel because of their lack of faith in God. They were turning to idols for help. The ones that turned to the Lord for help were some of the remnant that survived. In the same way, the ones that turn to God who gives grace will also survive.
There are a lot of ways that the traditions of the Pharisees became a created thing. I feel like I’ve written about this before…?
They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
(Romans 1:25 ESV)
Isn’t this exactly what we do when we make up a law like “close your eyes when you pray” or “make it to church on time?” I see a lot of those rules as I have kids and I hear them correct each other for different things. Like hearing a kid say “Don’t say God! That’s a bad word!” and correcting them to know that “God” is a very very good word, and that’s why you save it for special things.
Customs are what they are, and there is a time and a place for following them, but they should never ever replace faith in God. We do not pray before we eat because we have to, but because it’s a socially acceptable time to just bust out into corporate prayer during the day. Sometimes people get sooo uncomfortable when people eat without praying. I don’t want my kids to be those people.
The obedience that comes from faith is one that is thankful, with or without a recited prayer before a meal. The obedience that comes from faith is one that sings songs of worship whether or not anyone else starts the song. The obedience that comes from faith is one that gives not to fulfill a budget but to fulfill a mandate, or even an inner stirring of God that says “Make this happen!”
There are a lot of moments when Jesus deliberately broke a custom or a traditional teaching just to crack the rock-hard hearts of the religious people. Most of His healing was on the Sabbath, which got all kinds of panties in a wad. I was really good at breaking customs when I was working cross-culturally, because I could just do what was normal for me and shake a custom.
What has become more difficult is to shake customs in my home-culture, because those truly call for a Spirit-led action.