“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.” (7:20-23)
In the Law of Moses there are a ton of hygienic laws. God had just taken a couple million house cats camping for the first time and it was going to be a 40 year trip. All these laws were for their good, their survival. In fact, the Jews have historically out-lived many plagues because of these handy dandy hygiene laws from God.
They even had a dual function: communal health, and the ability to dwell in proximity to the manifest glory of the LORD.
Through the years these laws became expounded, including all these mentioned in Mark 7. Suddenly people were under the impression good hygiene and eating clean made you inarguably Holy.
Jesus comes along and suggests their unholiness originats in the depths of their heart, which did a couple things:
- Made eating and washing a non sin related issue
- Knocked the ultra ceremonially clean Pharisees off their high horse
- Discredited gnosticism which says all things physical are bad and all things spiritual are good.
Now, of course hygiene and a healthy diet are still beneficial to life, but thankfully the ability to approach God doesn’t hinge on them.
This makes me check myself: “so what do I base my confidence in approaching God?” Is it because I am a missionary? I’ve grown up in church? I read my Bible regularly? I don’t do drugs? No. Paul calls that stuff filthy rags compared to the real thing.
The only reason we can approach God is Jesus. God has been chasing after our hearts (these toxic springs which defile us), for all time. He became a man to present a sacrifice on our behalf, so we could approach Him and not die. He has made us clean, exchanged our hearts of stone for hearts of flesh.
Jesus pleads with his disciples, in 8:15, to be very careful not to be influenced by the ideas of the Pharisees. They were constantly disqualifying people from a relationship with God and Jesus was there on earth to declare them loved and qualified.
Let no one disqualify you, my friends. Check yourself today. I’ve had to preach this gospel to myself a lot lately. I am not good and no one is expecting me to be perfect. My sin doesn’t keep me out of God’s favor and my good deeds don’t get me in. It’s all Jesus.