Monday, January 23, 2017

The Attitude Of The Heart

Mark 7:14-23

“And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.  If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 7:14-16)

Jesus had rebuked the Parisees, telling them that instead of making the law better, their changes made it less valuable and hindered people from pleasing God.  He then gathered the people to gether and made it clear that the thing that made a person unfit for the kingdom of God was not the things he ate or drank.  What made him unfit for the kingdom of god was the way he acted.  It is very important that we understand this. 

“And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable.

And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?

And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.  For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” (Mark 7:17-23)

Jesus’ disciples wanted to be sure they were understanding what he was teaching correctly.  After al, the Jews were forbidden to eat pork and certain other foods, and they believed it was because those foods made them unfit for the kingdom of God.  Jesus pointed out that if they ate pork, for example, the body digested it, extracting whatever food value was there and eliminating the rest through the bowels.   The things that make a man evil or bad result from the attitude of his heart.  It is that attitude that leads to imagining doing evil things and from there to acting on them, whether it be adultery or theft or murder, or pride and foolish behavior.  Eating the pork did not cause them to commit adultery or murder, or any of those other things.  Those were the result of those attitudes in their heart or mind.  The problem with eating pork was not the pork itself, but that God had asked the Jews not to eat it as a part of their covenant with God.  Eating it indicated an attitude of disrespect toward their agreement with God.   It was this attitude that made a man unfit to receive God’s blessings.   

As Christians it is important to understand those Laws were part of the covenant or contract between God and the Nation of Israel.  Some six hundred years before, god had made a contract with Abraham’s descendants, and according Romans 4, our salvation is based on the promise to Abraham, rather than the contract with the Nation of Israel defined by the law.    When Christians demand that people follow those guidelines as essential for being a Christian, they make the same mistake the Pharisees were making, and have departed from true Christianity, as Paul tells us in I Timothy 4:1-5.  “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.  For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”  Many times the spirit or attitude that motivates certain action is more important than the action itself.  

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