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Summary: Believers are responsible before God to judge sin in their lives, dealing swiftly with evil so that they can serve unhindered.

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MARK 7:20-23

SINS WHICH MUST BE JUDGED

“Jesus said, ‘What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.’”

It is jarring to hear a professed Christian using profane or crude language. Such language does not honour the Saviour; nor does it reflect well on our divine parentage. Likewise, it is disturbing to witness professed believers slander one another. Some behaviour is incongruous with the confession of new life in Christ that we profess. It is not that the people of God are incapable of sinning, but rather that we expect better of those who follow Christ; and we are always shocked when God’s people fail to live as children of the Living God.

Overt sin obviously cannot be justified in the lives of Christians; sexual immorality, theft, murder and adultery are clearly proscribed in the Word of God. However, we tend to excuse what I call polite sins—those character traits that are less obvious, or at least more difficult to pin down in the lives of people we know. When we are guilty of evil thoughts, no one knows of this, except for us. Envy, pride and foolishness are tolerated. If someone should accuse us of such, we bristle and question how they could dare judge us.

We are taught in the Word of God that we are responsible to live lives which are distinguished from the world. We are not to live as the world does, nor even to be friends with the world. James excoriates those who imagine that they can live as the world does while claiming allegiance to God when he writes, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” [JAMES 4:4].

The Word of God teaches that we are corporately responsible to judge ourselves as members of one body; but even more vital is that we each assume responsibility to individually judge our own lives. Join me in looking to the Word of the Master as we examine a strong teaching which He provided His disciples on one occasion after exposing the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.

THE BACKGROUND OF THE MESSAGE — The Pharisees, together with some scribes from Jerusalem, witnessed the disciples eating without washing their hands. This washing of the hands was a ritual washing required of all observant Jews. This was not a hygienic requirement, but a religious requirement, as is obvious from Mark’s comment that this was done “holding to the tradition of the elders” [MARK 7:3]. The disciples’ failure to observe protocol was offensive to the mobile truth squad that followed Jesus and His disciples. They were usually looking for an indiscretion, an offensive statement—anything with which they could accuse Him of religious deviation.

Things were no different on this occasion. The religious arbiters saw that the disciples failed to wash their hands before they ate. You can almost see their raised eyebrows as they nodded knowingly to one another before they turned to the Master; I can only imagine that their tone indicated their incredulity as they accused the Master, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands” [MARK 7:5]?


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