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August 20, 2015

The Pharisees found many reasons to find fault with Jesus’ teaching and ministry. One such instance is recorded in Matthew 15 and Mark 7. The Pharisees complained that Jesus’ disciples did not follow their tradition of washing hands before eating. In response, Jesus rebukes them for two related errors. The elevation of man’s traditions above God’s laws and the assumption that external impurities produce internal impurity. These two errors are directly related to one another, the first springing out of the second. The Pharisees imagined that a stringent set of laws and standards was going to protect their purity. The Pharisees completely missed the point. They concluded that purity was defined by what was going on externally. What they ate, drank, wore, said and did was what determined the extent of their purity. Christ says that none of those things make a man pure or impure. The Pharisees thought that changing the outside would make them clean. Instead, as Christ said elsewhere, changing the outside does nothing more than put a new coat of paint on the tomb. The inside would still be rotten. Cleaning up the outside will never cleanse the inside. Christ declares the inherent impurity of all men. “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.” (Matthew 15:18)

The Pharisess failed to recognize that the point of the law was not to protect purity, but to reveal impurity. The human heart is already defiled, and no ceremonial restriction can ever make it clean. From the heart flows all the wickedness of the man. Your wicked behavior always, without exception, starts in your wicked heart. There are certainly temptations that come at you, the devil and all his demons are definitely opposed to every Christian and the world does it’s best to compel you to act in a certain way. However, sin is never the result of outside forces working against you to force you to do something you don’t want to do. Sin only occurs as you are drawn away by your own desires. The desires of the sinful heart are drawn away by the temptation and ensnared in sin. Every sin has its source in your own heart. None would sin without an internal longing to commit the sin. Do not deceive yourself into thinking otherwise. The source of all sin and idolatry is you, your own personal, private wicked heart and all its desires. Nothing you do to the outside of your body will change that heart. The only possibility for pure behavior is a pure heart. The only way for purity in life is Christ. Obedience will naturally flow from a changed heart, but obedience will never change the heart. What is necessary is a heart changed by Christ and out of that transformed heart will come profitable obedience to the commands of God.

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