Tag: hearts far away

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!

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Empty Worship

Scripture reading for July 26th: Isaiah 28-30

“The Lord Says: “These people come near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.  Their worship of Me is made up only of rules taught by men.”” (Isaiah 29:13) .

Man has a deep inner need to worship God.  That is his ultimate purpose and greatest delight.   God chose Israel as His special treasure and chose to dwell among them, first in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple at Jerusalem.    They were given laws and strict rules about where and how they could approach God safely to worship.   When Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire before the Lord, they were warned by example that worship in an improper manner could result in sudden death.  (Leviticus 10:1-3)

Throughout their history, the Israelites struggled to worship God from their heart with all their strength.   They drifted into idolatry again and again.  They would sometimes worship God and then go up to an idol temple and offer sacrifices there.  Sometimes, they just went through the motions and really had no personal love or care for the Lord Himself.

In our reading today, Israel is involved in this empty worship.  God seeks to wake them up and warn them through Isaiah’s prophesy.  “Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the Lord, “to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; who go down to Egypt without consulting Me; who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge.” (Isaiah 30:1-2)  Israel worshiped God, but then ran to Egypt for help without consulting God.  They made plans to protect themselves, but failed to rely on the Lord for their refuge in time of trouble.  Their worship was empty words and rituals, filled with unbelief that God could provide for them and protect them.

The Israelites wanted things in their control.  They told the prophets to tell them pleasant things (illusions) and quit confronting them with the Holy One! (Isaiah 30:10-11)  Empty worship and illusions go together.  A false understanding of God leads to judgment and destruction.  The American church must wake up to the warnings of Scripture.  God requires repentance and rest in His care and protection.  He wants His people to wait upon Him in quiet confidence and to see His salvation come to pass.  (Isaiah 30:15)

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