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Mark 7: Matter of the Heart

posted Oct 17, 2012, 9:47 AM by solomon yang

We tend to focus on things we can see. We judge by appearance. So much so that our culture says image is everything. Maybe that’s why we tend to be superficial in the way we act, why we tend to be shallow in the way we think of others. Because “man looks on the outward appearance” (1 Samuel 16:7).

The Pharisees were passing judgment on the disciples because they “ate with hands that were defiled” (7:1). In their minds, eating with unclean hands made you unclean. Not only that, they were convinced that using unclean things and touching unclean things made you unclean. That’s why they observed many traditions, “such as washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches” (7:4). This also explains why the Pharisees didn’t mingle with “sinners.” It’s because they didn’t want to get defiled!

Don’t we tend to think along the same line? We say so and so is a sinner because he did such and such. We think we become sinful by doing sinful stuff, by hanging out with sinful people. We view sin as something external to us. At most, we think of sin as something we do here and there. We don’t realize that sin is in us, that sin is our condition. It’s what’s within us that makes us sinful, not things outside of us.

Jesus says, “Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?... What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, oveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person" (7:18-23).

At the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. It’s not about what you do or who you spend time with. It’s really about your heart. That’s why “the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Your behavior doesn’t define you. Nor the company you keep. It’s your heart that defines who you are and determines what you do. That’s why the Bible says, “Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).  

Sinful heart produces sinful life. Redeemed heart produces righteous life. Praise God for redeeming us in Christ, giving us a new heart...a heart to know Him and love Him because we’re known and loved by Him. God wants to change us from the inside out. That’s why “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Rom 5:5). Let’s dwell on God’s love for us demonstrated on the cross and let it define us.