Mark 7:14-23 (ESV)
14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
(Random notes on the Passage)
IF you keep the law then your in, your part of the community. If you don’t keep the law then you are an outsider. This is the issue Paul faced in Galatia and it is an issue which Jesus spoke about in this passage.
The enemy, as with modern western imperialism, is located outside of oneself- whether the enemy be the communists of the cold war or Islamists of the 21st century. Jews located the enemy as being Rome. Rome was the political, military and economic superpower. Some Jews wanted to see the arrival of the kingdom of God in the destruction of Rome (and Gentiles). If you are are a loyal Jew then you had to keep up the covenant boundary markers so that it was clear who was loyal, who was in, and who was outside and apostate. The enemy and uncleaness come from without.
Jesus turns this upside down. Uncleanness, and the enemy, are found with the covenant people, within the individual. Jesus responds by saying that all the ‘evils’ of the gentiles are found in the hearts of these extreme law keepers. Israel were always called to be a light to the nations, yet the law which was supposed to be a blessing is now being used to define who are the enemy. Jesus challenges the religious assumptions of the day, showing that sin is found within each person.
Application: As a church, a covenant community, we must remember that evil is found within each person. We simply can’t just point the finger at those outside (liberals, secularists) without recognising that we, along with them, are broken messed up people. The church can also be confident that the ‘Lord will have mercy upon us because of his unfailing love’.
It may be appropriate to end with a puritan prayer. Taken from
Confession and Petition
Holy Lord, I have sinned times without number, and been guilty of pride and unbelief, of failure to find Thy mind in Thy Word, of neglect to seek Thee in my daily life. My transgressions and short-comings present me with a list of accusations, but I bless Thee that they will not stand against me, for all have been laid on Christ. Go on to subdue my corruptions, and grant me grace to live above them. Let not the passions of the flesh nor lustings of the mind bring my spirit into subjection, but do Thou rule over me in liberty and power.
I thank Thee that many of my prayers have been refused. I have asked amiss and do not have, I have prayed from lusts and been rejected, I have longed for Egypt and been given a wilderness. Go on with Thy patient work, answering ‘no’ to my wrongful prayers, and fitting me to accept it. Purge me from every false desire, every base aspiration, everything contrary to Thy rule. I thank Thee for Thy wisdom and Thy love, for all the acts of discipline to which I am subject, for sometimes putting me into the furnace to refine my gold and remove my dross.
No trial is so hard to bear as a sense of sin. If Thou shouldst give me choice to live in pleasure and keep my sins, or to have them burnt away with trial, give me sanctified affliction. Deliver me from every evil habit, every accretion of former sins, everything that dims the brightness of Thy grace in me, everything that prevents me taking delight in Thee. Then I shall bless Thee, , for helping me to be upright.
1 The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001