Summary: Holiness is more than merely a matter of religious activities. God is not near as concerned with our methods of ministry as He is our motives of ministry. That’s because God is not so concerned with the surface of man as He is with the spirit of man.

Holiness Is A Matter Of The Heart

Text: Eph.6: 6; Mark 7: 18-19a

Intro: It is absolutely impossible to become a Christian without a change of heart. Everything about trusting Christ as ones Savior affects the heart. If there has been no change of heart, there has been no conversion.

Just as one cannot be saved without a change of heart, neither can one live a holy life before God without heart involvement. God is much less concerned with our methods than He is with our motives. I’m not saying that all methods are right. Nor am I saying that they aren’t important to God. But just because someone appears good outwardly doesn’t mean that they are good inwardly. One can perform right actions, but possess wrong attitudes. Their methods may appear spiritual, but their motives may be selfish.

The Pharisees who questioned Jesus in Mark chapter seven had a false concept of what holiness of life was all about. To them, holiness simply had to do with performing the right “spiritual pushups.” They were plugged into religious rituals that were mechanical, done out of habit rather than the heart. They thought if it looked good, it was good. Their brand of holiness was simply sentiment without substance.

Jesus, however, was about to burst their hypocritical bubble. He was about to show them that, as the old adage says, “All that glitters is not gold.” He was about to reveal that holiness was more than simply a matter of clever hypocrisy. It was a matter of the heart.

Theme: We can see the connection between the heart and holiness when we examine:


A. They Possessed A Religion Based On Outward Cleansing.

1. The Pharisees took issue with Jesus over ceremonial washing.

Mark 7: 1 “Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem.

2 And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault.”

NOTE: [1] According to the note in the center column of my Bible, the washing of the hands included not only the washing of one hand with the other, but was to extend up to the elbows.

[2] Keep in mind here that this religious crowd was not rebuking Christ because His disciples had been caught in some moral infraction. They were upset merely because the disciples hadn’t observed the tradition of ceremonially washing their hands before eating. They were more concerned with clean hands than with clean hearts.

2. The Pharisees obsessed over being clean without, instead of being clean within.

Mark 7: 3 “For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.

4 And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.”

B. They Possessed A Religion Based On Old Customs.

Mark 7: 3b “…holding the tradition of the elders.”

Mark 7: 5 “Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hand?”

NOTE: [1] It is extraordinary that these religious leaders had become so sidetracked by tradition that they no longer judged right and wrong by what God said, but by what the elders had said.

The tradition of the elders was the unwritten corpus of commands and teachings of the honored rabbis of the past, a body of 613 rules designed to regulate every aspect of life (Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison, Editors, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, published by Moody Press, Chicago, Illinois; pg. 1002).

[2] Like the Pharisees, too many Christians make the mistake of making their rules the standard of holiness instead of the Redeemer. One commentator notes that, “For a loyal Jew, to disregard these regulations was a sin; to follow them was the essence of goodness and service to God” (John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Editors, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament edition, published by Victor Books, Wheaton, Illinois; pg. 133).

[3] Folks, let’s be sure we’ve got it straight today. God is not judging our holiness of life by what your friends say; by what you say, or even by what Bro. Donnie says. His standard is based on “thus saith the Lord.” Tradition is fine, in its place. But just because one observes some sort of religious tradition doesn’t make them holy. That’s why traditionalism is so very dangerous. We need to be careful to check out our religious traditions with the Word of God. I like what this man had to say on the subject.

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