What is the Condition of Your Heart? ~ blog
I was reading this morning from the Gospel of Mark where Jesus was teaching the people about what is it that defiles a person. The nitpicking Pharisees who always seemed to be hanging around Jesus and His posse saw that the disciples were eating their bread without washing their hands.
I don’t know about you, but I think my mother might have been a Pharisee because I think before every meal, she reminded us to wash our hands. But I figured depending on the meal and what my hands had been doing should be the deciding factor on whether or not my hands needed to be washed.
Breakfast? Probably not since I had been sleeping in my bed and probably took a shower before sitting down for that meal.
Lunch? That was mostly at school and how was going to say to their friends; “Hold my place in line because I need to go and wash my hands.” No self-respecting boy is going to say that to his friends.
Dinner? Ok…maybe dinner since who knows where my hands might have been on the way home from school. Playing football on a grassy field. Skimming rocks across the water. Exploring a trash bin hoping to find something of interest. But hey, wait a minute one could always wipe them off on the jeans and that should be good enough right? Wrong!!!
So, the disciples are eating their bread with impure hands. And we read in Mark 7 that everyone was to follow the “traditions of the elders” which I am willing to bet was actually the traditions of the elder’s mothers. But I digress…
Jesus takes the opportunity to shed some light on this subject on what is clean and what is unclean. So, He quotes to them from their prophet Isaiah;
“This people honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.”
Then Jesus slams them by using one of their made-up rules to show what hypocrites they were. They had this tradition called Corban where if they declared anything of theirs as Corban it meant it was dedicated to God and could not be shared with anyone else. So, if their parents needed some help with food or finances their greedy kids could just say they would love to help but everything they had was dedicated to God and they could not share it.
Jesus takes this opportunity to teach his followers and us something important about our hearts. He tells them that it is not what goes into a person that defiles him. Food eaten with any clean or dirty hands goes into the stomach and then is eliminated.
However, it is what comes out of a person’s mouth that defiles him.
“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”
I often hear men asking God to give them a new heart. They know the Old Testament passage from Jeremiah 17:9;
“The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?”
However, there is good news for those of us who used to have a deceitful and sick heart. When we accepted Christ, we became new creations. God replaced our former heart of stone with a heart of flesh. Our heart is no longer wicked. We have a new heart…a born-again heart. And it is in our new heart that we desire the good things of God. It is from that new heart that we desire to please God and walk in purity.
So, you are dying to say…wait a minute John…why am I still battling with sin if I have a new heart? Did the new heart I was given at salvation become dirty from all my sexual sin and so it is no longer a clean heart? No, God gave us new and clean hearts, and remember Jesus said it is not what goes into a man that defiles him.
Remember He was saying this to the Pharisees who were not believers and still had their old and deceitful hearts. However, we have new hearts and we are a new creation in Christ. The old us has passed away and been crucified with Christ the new us is not alive in Christ.
If all that is true…and I believe it is,
why do we still struggle so with sin?
We struggle because even though we are new creations in Christ, old things have passed away and new things have come…we still have living within us something called our flesh. And it is from our old and sinful flesh that our sinful desires continue to be part of our lives.
This flesh is what even the Apostle Paul struggled with as he shares with us in Romans 7. It is sinful and at its core rebellious and selfish And because it has been with us our entire lives and knows in a powerful way how to work us into doing sinful actions that we need a solution far beyond our own abilities to resist temptation.