Verse of the Day Devotion: Mark 7:23
“All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” – Mark 7:23
This verse is the end of a discourse Jesus had with a group of people who met Him and the disciples after they landed in Gennesaret. This was the same trip in the boat where Jesus joined the disciples by walking on the water. Hear He speaks to them regarding what defiles a man. “There is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man.” Mark 7:15. After the crowd left, the disciples asked Him what He meant by this teaching. He then expounded on this to help them understand what they meant. “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated? (Thus He declared all foods clean.)” Mark 7:18-19. What He was telling them was nothing defiles them except that which might proceed from the heart. As our focus verse states, “All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” Mark 7:23.
He then goes on to make it more clear by going into some detail. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.” Mark 7:22. When we look at this list of sins, every one of them has their start in the heart, and then ends in actions. For instance, fornication and theft begins with lustful thoughts regarding people or things. Deceit begins with the desire to hide something we do not want known. And murder begins with hateful thoughts toward another. None of these things begin with something entering our body. This does not mean that which we allow to enter our heart, because note the wording above: “because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” Mark 7:19. If we allow ourselves to look at filthy images or listen to filthy stories or look at things and begin to desire them to the point that we will do anything to acquire them, they will most likely cause us to sin.
Therefore, it is of ultimate importance that we are careful what we focus our minds on. Our thoughts should always be toward what pleases God and what He desires of us. Paul put it this way in his letter to the Philippians. “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything, worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8. These are the things we need to think on: that which true and honorable, that which is right and pure and lovely (not meaning outward appearance, but what is amiable on its own account and on account of its usefulness to others, whether in your conduct or conversation). These should be our focus.
How can we make this happen? Paul said, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2. The way we can do this is to change our way of thinking away from the world and their ways to God and His ways. Through Him, we can make this happen. Therefore, let us be devoted to Him in everything and let Him makes us who we ought to be. When we do this, we stand a great chance of controlling our thoughts and the desires of our heart.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.