After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 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.” Mark 7:14-23

Today’s thoughts from today’s verses:

After Jesus finished blasting the scribes and Pharisees, he went back to addressing the crowd and then after that, speaking to his disciples. Jesus delineated very clearly to everyone the fundamental difference between him and the religious system of the day. Yes, everyone is defiled, that is, we are off track and have missed the mark of being what we need to be and doing what we need to do in life. But no, this defilement does not come to us from outside of ourselves. Almost everything that made up the religious system of the day was rooted in the notion that defilement came from the outside in. Jesus proclaims unequivocally, “defilement comes from the inside out.”

The story of the life of Christ that we see in the Gospels shows Jesus before people over and over again and the essence of the reality they need to get from him is this: “I am here” and I am the solution to everything. But, grasping the fact that Jesus is the solution is a mighty difficult thing until one grasps the truth of what the problem actually is. Of course understanding this truth is what today’s passage is all about. Read through the passage again, and make certain you fully embrace the truth that “the problem is us” and not something outside of ourselves. Remember, that Jesus came to inaugurate a new way. His new way will bring forgiveness and the giving of the Holy Spirit. Simplicity of devotion to Christ and his indwelling presence through the Holy Spirit will be the centerpiece. 

There is absolutely no room for a system of rules and regulations that tries to work from the outside in. Christ becomes to us the only solution we will ever need and he will always work from the inside out. As his redeemed ones, Christ lives in us by his Spirit and works at fixing our hearts and then our lives. Yes, it is all about the heart. The focus of Christ’s new way is to give people hearts that are willing, tender, responsive, focused, and filled with his Spirit with the result being they are obedient to his desires and intentions for them. God knows that the heart is the key. With our hearts under Christ’s control through the Holy Spirit, we are delivered and kept from the heart’s natural propensity for sin and evil. In this way, we know him intimately, we enjoy him wonderfully, we are transformed by him triumphantly, we walk with him powerfully, and we live for him fully. 

Today’s prayer response from today’s thoughts:

Lord, help me comprehend and embrace fully all that I have and all that I am through your indwelling presence. Help me to recognize and forsake anything of religiosity that remains in my life. Guard my heart and mind from my own tendency to want to “mix” together outward and inward ways. Thank you for your love and grace that rescued me from man-made religion and immersed me in the actual experience of your love and grace. Please, guard me from finding security through rules and regulations. My trust is in you and you alone, Lord. Your gracious and loving presence are all I need. I love you, I celebrate you, I embrace you, and I thank you for your indwelling Spirit. Amen!