Mark 7:14-16- When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand: There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!” NKJV
The Pharisees are at it again! No matter what Jesus is doing, they always find fault with it. This time they brought those who were experts in the law. It reminds me of the times when the Jehovah Witness would knock on our door. First, a novice would come and try and convince me that they held truth and I needed that truth. When I would counter what they had to say with the word, they would leave frustrated. The next group would be a little more skilled, but would leave with the same frustration. Then one day, I simply had enough and asked them not to return. No one has knocked on our doors in years!
The problem the Pharisees apparently have with Jesus is that He and His disciples are not following tradition and they want to know why? The traditions of elders evolved as the scribes took the law and added things to it that had not been there. The elders were the ancient Jewish scholars who were responsible for the rules and regulations that later became known as the Mishnah.
“Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”Mark 7:6-8 NKJV
Jesus went straight to the matter of the heart. He called them hypocrites. We have a pretty fair understanding of the word hypocrite, but I still want to look at its Greek meaning. Hupokrites denotes a stage-actor. William Barclay wrote that it doesn’t simply mean an actor on the stage, “but one whose whole life is a piece of acting without any sincerity behind it all.”
Jesus knew that this conversation wasn’t about the sincerity of honoring or keeping the law, and called them on it! He reminded them of the words of the prophet Isaiah that went straight to their heart. The first point was that the time would come when they would lay aside the commandment of God and hold fast to the tradition of men. The traditions of men are still more important to church people than God’s word. If there is a contradiction in the word to one of our practices, we continue with it and ignore His word. For example, Jesus stated that He would be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. Yet, tradition states that He died on Friday night and rose early on Sunday morning. Even a kindergartener can figure out that isn’t three days and three nights, but it’s our sacred cow and we aren’t changing it for anything!
The second point was that they would honor God but their hearts would be far from Him. We would not want to be called a hypocrite by anyone, especially Jesus! But when we attend church, is our heart involved, or are we punching the spiritual clock? When we pray, is our heart involved, or just our lips? When we read the word of God, are we checking off a spiritual discipline, or does our heart hunger for a word from God? Have we become religious, and therefore hypocrites, or is there still a burning in our hearts for the Lord?
He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.Mark 7:9 NKJV
Not only did they add rules and regulations to the law, not only were they hearts far removed from Him, but they rejected the commandments of God for those rules, regulations and traditions! When we get to a place where what we believe, think, feel, or do, matters more than what the word of God states, we are rejecting the commandments of God. Especially in the church! For example, love is important to God for He is Love. Demonstrating that love should be important to us! We shouldn’t pick and choose when to demonstrate love, but endeavor to make it a lifestyle!
When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand: There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!”Mark 7:14-16 NKJV
Jesus appears to ignore the scribes and Pharisees after making His point and turns His attention to the multitude. He tells them that it isn’t food and drink that defiles a person, but what comes out of a man is what defiles him. The disciples were confused at His saying and asked Him to explain what He meant.
He said to them, “Are you also as lacking in understanding? Don’t you realize that nothing going into a person from the outside can defile him? For it doesn’t go into his heart but into the stomach and is eliminated” (thus he declared all foods clean). And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, self-indulgence, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a person.””Mark 7:18-23 CSB
Jesus clearly states two points in this discourse. The first point is that food does not defile us and we can eat whatever we want to eat. The second point was of greater value, sin comes from the heart and defiles man. His concern wasn’t about rituals and legalism, but with the condition of the heart. Remember the sermon on the mount?
But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.Matthew 5:38 CSB
That means that someone can commit adultery with another person without their permission! And if they continue with those thoughts, they will begin to move on those thoughts with their behavior.
But thank God for Jesus! He can bring change to a heart that is filled with sin. He is the solution and the antidote for all that defiles a man. When a sin filled heart opens up to Jesus, He cleanses it, making it a place of influence for the Holy Spirit! (Acts 15:9)
If the condition of your heart is still filled with sin, I urge you today to surrender it to Jesus, and He will cleanse it. If you are a believer and sin is trying to recapture your heart, cry out to Him! He will deliver you! Take some time right now and allow the Holy Spirit to check out the condition of your heart. It is truly a matter of life and death! Wonderful Jesus!