Verse of the Day Devotion.  Mark 7:19 

“Because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus. He declared all foods clean.) – Mark 7:19

This verse addresses the traditions and commandments of the Jewish people of that time. Some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus to probably observe His ways. “And the Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered together around Him when they had come from Jerusalem and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed.” Mark 7:1-2. Now the scribes and Pharisees were not as interested in hygiene as with ritual purity. Mark explains  this in the next two verses. “For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.” Mark 7:3-4.

Then they ask Jesus a question. “And the Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?” Mark 7:5. His answer to them is quite powerful. “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” Mark 7:6-8. He was telling them that instead of obeying the commandments of God, they follow the traditions of men, essentially their forefathers.

And He calls them hypocrites; honoring Him with their mouths while their hearts are far away. And He shows this by using an example in the Ten Commandments. “He was also saying to them, “You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER’; and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, LET HIM BE PUT TO DEATH’; but you say, If a man says to his father or his mother, anything of mine you might have been helped by is Corban (that is to say, given to God), you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.” Mark 7:9-13. Here He showed their hypocrisy regarding the keeping of the Mosaic Law.

Now the Pharisees claimed that Jesus and His followers where being defiled by not keeping the Law as they saw it regarding not washing the hands prior to eating. And Jesus calls the multitude together to explain His words to the Pharisees. “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand there is nothing outside the man which going into him can defile him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man.” Mark 7:14b-15. Then after leaving the multitude, the disciples asked Him about this. And Jesus responds in the next verse. “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?” Mark 7:18-19. God is far more concerned with what comes out of us than what goes into us. This is especially true when it comes to foods and traditions and rituals. In saying this, He declared all foods clean. He is more interested in what comes out. And He is also saying that physical food, with its clear trajectory through and out of the body, cannot cause a heart/spiritual condition to become defiled. 

He then tells them what comes out defiles. “And He was saying that which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 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. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” Mark 7:20-23. These are the things that defiles us, not what we take in, but what we put out. What we take in, this referring to food, will not in any way defile us, for it goes in and eventually leaves. The things that are listed above come from the heart and definitely defiles Him, for the desires that these denote are acts of sin. Jesus’ main point is that uncleanness is moral rather than ritual. Uncleanness should no longer be considered a property of objects but rather a description of inner attitudes, a condition of the heart. The goodness of a deed depends not solely on its doing, but primarily on its intent. Why do we do it? Because we want it and desire it, or because this is what God desires?

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

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