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Summary: Are we so blinded by our church buildings and our rituals that we don’t see God? Are we blinded by the world’s sinfulness? Are we noble like the Bereans, studying our Bibles daily to see what God says?


Are we so blinded by our church buildings and our rituals that we don’t see God? Are we blinded by the world’s sinfulness? Are we noble like the Bereans, studying our Bibles daily to see what God says? What defiles us? Let’s look at Matthew 15:10-20 and see what Jesus has to say about blindness and what’s in our hearts.

This Defiles the Man

Reading Matthew 15:10-11 Jesus taught, “Hear and understand. It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.” The Pharisees stressed the letter of the law, but Jesus was more concerned with the spirit of our words than kosher meats and handwashing. Why? How do our words defile us? Our words reveal what’s in our hearts.

The Pharisees were Offended

Reading Matthew 15:12 “Then the disciples came and said to Him, ‘Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?’” Jesus offended religious leaders without apology. Did He set Himself above kosher law from the Old Testament? The Pharisees kept it in the letter not understanding the spiritual intent of the law. Are we afraid of sharing the Gospel because it may offend some people?

4 Times Blind

Reading Matthew 15:13-14 “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” Don’t be anxious about heresies. Every man-made doctrine, every man-made tradition, and every church ministry which God did not plant will eventually disappear, so dismiss them from your thoughts.

From the Heart

Reading Matthew 15:15-18 “... the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.” Our words tell what’s in our hearts. Our hearts defile us, and outward washing rituals and kosher dietary regulations cannot make us clean inside. The heart is the corrupt source of this defilement. Sinful words come from there, and by polluting others only serve to defile others as well.

Out of the Heart

Reading Matthew 15:19 “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.” All these evil things begin with thoughts. This follows the order of the Ten Commandments, but instead of covetousness ends with blasphemies or slander, the Greek word can mean either. Jesus said that breaking the Ten Commandments is done in the heart, not just in the flesh (Matthew 5:22, 28).

Application 1

Blind leaders place human traditions ahead of matters of the heart. Blind leaders find excuses to sidestep the instructions of God. Blind leaders preach “inclusion,” meaning accomodation to the sins of the world, so that they can keep the money coming in. Blind leaders preach “unconditional love,” often preached as “come as you are,” meaning no need to change, when real love is preaching repentance, and rescuing sinners from hell.

Application 2

How can we avoid being misled by blind leaders. Listen carefully to their words. The Bereans listened carefully to Paul (Acts 17:10-11). Being a good listener means we don’t naively swallow everything we hear, but analyze it. For Christians that also means we compare it to the Scriptures. Don’t just believe any preacher. Follow along in our Bibles. If we don’t study our Bibles daily, we become quickly blind.


Blind leaders and their followers will be “uprooted… [and] fall into a pit.” Jesus concludes by saying, “These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.”

We often focus on the physical side of religion, our buildings, our rituals, but not our changed hearts, yet that’s the very definition of repentance. “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Matthew 13:16-17)

Matthew 15:10-20; Matthew 5:22, 28; Acts 17:10-11; Matthew 13:16-17

New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

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