Summary: Jesus confronts the Pharisees defective view of sin.
A Study of the Book of Mark
Sermon # 24
"Jesus and the Truth About Sin"
In our study we have seen how the Pharisees had elevated their oral traditions to a position of equal or greater authority than the Scriptures. The Pharisees had all kinds of ceremonial practices. If one did not observe them, then you were considered a sinner and not worthy to come into the presence of God. For example, in the Old Testament, some foods were considered clean foods, they were alright to eat. But there were other foods which were considered unclean; those foods were not to be eaten. According to the Pharisees if one ate unclean foods they themselves became unclean, or sinners in the eyes of God. What Jesus wants them to see is that they misunderstood the nature of human sin! In the verses we will consider today we will discover what Jesus said was the true source of defilement.
At the beginning of chapter seven, the Disciples of Jesus ate some food without performing the ceremonial ritual cleaning that the Jews meticulously observed. The Jewish religious leaders blew a gasket because they were so obsessed with the outward acts of religion. Jesus criticized them because they substituted a bunch of frivolous rules for the simple commandments of God. In verse eight He said, “You have laid aside the commands of God and are holding on to the trad-itions of men.” Like a lot of religious people even in our own day, they thought faith was about what you did on the outside, but Jesus said it’s what’s inside that counts. Jesus told those religious windbags it wasn’t their hands that needed cleaning, it was their hearts, because their hearts were dirty.
Let’s read what He said in Mark 7:14-23, “When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, "Hear Me, everyone, and understand: (15) There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. (16) If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!" (17) When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. (18) So He said to them, "Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, (19) because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?" (20) And He said, "What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. (21) For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, forn-ications, murders, (22) thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. (23) All these evil things come from within and defile a man."
As Jesus often did he used the confrontation with the Pharisees as an opportunity to teach spiritual truth to the masses by a parable and then interpret that truth in private with His disciples. Note three things about sin with me …
First, Confronting A Defective View of Sin (7:14-16)
“When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, "Hear Me, everyone, and understand:(15) There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. (16) If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!"
Once a grouchy old deacon was teaching a Sunday School Class (you can substitute the grouchy old deacon of your choice). Anyway, He wanted to help the children understand what a Christian was, so he asked them a question, “Why do people call me a Christian?” There was a moment of silence and then one of the boys said, “Maybe it’s because they don’t know you.”
Just like that little boy, Jesus always told it like it was. The Pharisee wanted to talk about unclean hands (v. 5) but Jesus said the real problem was an unclean heart. The truth is that what a man is supersedes anything he does. What Jesus is saying here is really radical, in fact, Bible Commentator William Barclay calls this perhaps “the most revolutionary passage in the entire New Testament.” [William Barclay. The Gospel of Mark. (Phil.: Westminster, 1956) p.168) What Jesus is saying here is so radical that people in our day still do not believe it. He is saying that our problem with sin is not caused by our environment but they are caused by what is already residing within each human heart.
Jesus said when you look deeply into the human heart what you find is not very pretty. In its natural state, it produces all kinds of wicked schemes. And every one of us is born sinners by nature, and by choice. As every parent knows, nobody had to teach you how to lie; it is part of your DNA when you were born.