The evil is on the inside!
Scripture reading for February 24th: Mark 7:1-23, Psalms 40:11-17, Proverbs 10:13-14
Jesus’ disciples were criticized by the Pharisee’s for eating without washing their hands, according to the traditions of the elders. The Pharisee’s told them that they were “unclean” because of this and defiled. They asked Jesus why His disciples weren’t washing and Jesus spoke clearly to them about their traditions that were violating the heart of God’s truth.
“Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” (Mark 7:6-8)
Jesus proceeded to teach the crowd that had gathered that what goes into a man is not what defiles him, but what comes out of the inside that makes him unclean. (Mark 7:15) When someone eats something with unclean hands, that only goes into his stomach and then is eliminated from his body. Things from the outside don’t go into the heart but the stomach. In saying this Jesus was declaring all foods as clean. This was a radical departure from what the Pharisees understood from the Law! (Mark 7:19)
“He went on, “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.'” (Mark 7:20-23)
Jesus spelled out what causes defilement. It was not food or failure to wash the hands. It was evil in the heart that came through the lips. Notice how many of God’s commandments are represented here with this list of evils. At least five are covered! Thinking and speaking evil defile a man and render him ‘unclean’ in God’s sight.
There is only one way to be free from this defilement and become clean inside. It is by repentance! We take responsibility for the evil things within us and ask God for mercy and forgiveness. After confession and repentance, we seek God’s power to live free from our sinful habits and please God by living in faith and obedience to His Word. With the inside clean, we will not be just putting on a show!