Quest for Hope
Internal Problem 3-11-16
Yesterday, we read Jesus’ example of what makes good soil in the heart for receiving His Word and letting it take root. Today, we will read more wisdom from Christ as he teaches the disciples about what really defiles (contaminates) a person before a holy God.
Matthew 15:11-20 (NLT)
11 It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”
12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?”
13 Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, 14 so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.”
15 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Explain to us the parable that says people aren’t defiled by what they eat.”
16 “Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked. 17 “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. 18 But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. 19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. 20 These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.”
The Pharisees (Jewish religious leaders) have been teaching the people that in order to please God a “religious” person is careful about what he/she eats or drinks and how well that person bathes on the outside. Of course the Pharisees were fastidious about those things and were offended that Jesus moved its value right off the “This REALLY Pleases God List.” Remember, Jesus did not come to earth to teach a religion based on the human ability to perform holy ceremonies or religious observances. He came to connect humanity in a relationship with God’s Holy Spirit whose very presence would wash away and clean up those contaminants, as well as change the human soul by revealing the right way to live for God’s holy purpose. Those are two very different things. One is based on human discipline and power; the other is based on God’s powerful love and goodness to extend His holy Presence.
Jesus basically tells these religious teachers, “If you want to please God, get your facts right about what makes a person presentable to Him; identify the real problem” (Mary paraphrase). These leaders want to please God, but they are blind to the truth of what God really desires from them. They prefer the religious checklist approach; do these things and you will please God. However, the real problem is an internal one; a problem in the soul of the person that religion based on cleaning up the outside of a person cannot address. It is like washing the outside of the glass when it is the inside of the glass that has been dirtied. The problem comes from the motive of the heart (the core of one’s being), because out of that internal place that is contaminated, by wrong thoughts and desires, the mind plans behavior and the mouth forms words that dishonor sacred things. Jesus is teaching that the core of the person (inner reality) needs to change in order to please God. Jesus brings the solution to the problem by offering a way to clean us up on the inside. Religion will never accomplish that eternal wash job. Choose relationship!
Prayer: Lord, thank you for making a way for me to be clean in my inner reality; my inside life. Please continue your work of changing my soul (mind, will, and emotions) so they align with what pleases you. As I follow your Spirit, I will reveal your holiness in my words and actions. You are at the beginning and at the end of holiness. Please let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, today, Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.