Mark 7:14-23 NLT
14 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. 15 It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.”
17 Then Jesus went into a house to get away from the crowd, and his disciples asked him what he meant by the parable he had just used. 18 “Don’t you understand either?” he asked. “Can’t you see that the food you put into your body cannot defile you? 19 Food doesn’t go into your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.” (By saying this, he declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God’s eyes.)20 And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. 21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”
This story really began back in Verse 1, where the Pharisees criticized the disciples for failing to follow their own practice of ceremonial washing before eating. Pharisees were very big on ceremony. Jesus lets them know that their ceremonies are the sign of hypocrisy in God's eyes because their faith lacked follow through. They failed to submit self and receive God's will ahead of their own preferred traditions. Jesus pointed out their failure to love unconditionally while calling for ceremonies that obfuscate their people's lives with confusion.
Jesus challenges the Pharisees with a direct message to all the people listening that showed the futility of their food-related ceremonies and preferences. In this simple parable Jesus pointed out that evil has nothing to do with food eaten or how it is eaten, but with attitudes that arise within our nature. Evil, such as sexual immorality, homosexual actions theft, murder lies, envy slander, pride, and foolishness-- the list is long but could be much longer-- comes from a decision to engage in it. We have a choice. And once we have surrendered our will to the Holy Spirit of God who resides within our nature, remaking it into His image, then we have power to say 'no' to such evil. We have power to embrace God's priorities and release our own. So the things that defile us spiritually, are decisions to embrace self-desires for evil, and to deny God's priorities each day.
Single decisions for evil can become habitual decisions and lead us away from the life with the Spirit of God. Once we have been given that life and then left it, one wonders if there can ever be a turning back again. I pray so, but I don't want to risk it myself. How about you? Isn't it more joyful simply to embrace God's will today and not continue walking that fence line?
Your servant in Christ's Love