10.01.21 Mk. 7:14-16; Mt. 15:12-16; Mk. 7:18b-23
Mk. 14 Summoning the crowd again, He told them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: 15 Nothing that goes into a person from outside can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him. [16 If anyone has ears to hear, he should listen!]”
Mt. 12 Then the disciples came up and told Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard this statement?”
13 He replied, “Every plant that My heavenly Father didn’t plant will be uprooted. 14 Leave them alone! They are blind guides. And if the blind guide the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
15 Then Peter replied to Him, “Explain this parable to us.”
16 “Are even you still lacking in understanding?” He asked.
Mk. 18b Don’t you realize that nothing going into a man from the outside can defile him? 19 For it doesn’t go into his heart but into the stomach and is eliminated.” (As a result, He made all foods clean. ) 20 Then He said, “What comes out of a person—that defiles him. 21 For from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, 22 adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, promiscuity, stinginess, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a person.”
Again Jesus emphasized the importance of being separated from the evils of this world. In the Old Testament Period there were various activities by which one could become “defiled.” The leading Jews had taken the Mosaic laws of cleanliness to a high stress level of religious legalism. Jesus challenged this doctrine and taught that the source of all uncleanness is the unrepentant heart. There is no parallel to defilement in the New Testament era, but the message is just the same – true believers are to be separated from the evils of this world, and at times from those self-proclaimed Christians who clearly are not true believers. For this reason the heart of man needs to be changed by faith and obedience in Him.
“Nothing that goes into a person from outside can defile him.” In this discourse, Jesus said that it was not what went into a man’s mouth that made him unclean, but what came out. This was a significant statement in that it indicated a change from the cultural-religious division that separated Jew from Gentile. The strict observance of eating only kosher foods (Lev. 11) was intended to prevent the social interaction and, hence, the potential pollution of the Jewish faith by pagan cultures. However, the ceremonial traditions of the elders never met the requirements of God’s laws. Not only did Jesus introduce an enhanced understanding of God the Father but He also set the world stage for the spread of the gospel to all peoples. No longer was there to be a division between Jew and Gentile.
“But the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” This graphic statement clearly connects, especially with verses 19-23, bodily excrement with the evil thoughts that come from within a person. It emphasizes the differences between the believer and unbeliever. In a similar manner just as kosher foods are not important to His followers, they are to have “kosher” hearts. The concept of kosher is for the people of God to be a holy people, separated from the lifestyle and worldview of the world. In fact, not only the words of Jesus, but the entire New Testament requires believers to live a life separated from the world – the precise purpose of kosher foods of the Hebrew Bible. The goal is that what comes out of a person is clean and pure due to a transformed life. Note the following examples:
- You formerly walked in the ways of this world (implies that now you don’t; Eph. 2:2)
- Do not be bound with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14)
- Keep yourself unstained by this world (Jam. 1:27)
- Do not be conformed to this world (Rom. 12:2)
- Come out of their midst and be separate (2 Cor. 6:17)
- Do not love this world, nor the things in the world (1 Jn. 2:15)
- If anyone loves this world, the love of the Father is not in him 1 Jn. 2:15)
- Demas (an associate of Paul) having loved this world has deserted me (2 Tim. 4:10)
- A friend of this world is an enemy of God (Jas. 4:4)
- Gain the world and forfeit your soul (Mk. 8:36)
- He who loves this life in this world will lose it (Jn. 12:25)
- Our struggle is against the darkness of this world (Eph. 6:12)
The term greed is separated from all the other vices because the Greek definition is considerably more profound than its English translation implies. In the Greek it is pleonexia, meaning to possess things which are forbidden and should not be desired whatsoever. Furthermore, it is usually in conjunction with aselgeia that refers to a sheer animal lust. The gospel writer continues with evil actions, deceit, typical characteristics that accompany greed. Deceit (Gk. dolos 1388) is defined as craftiness, a bait, snare, trickery, and is associated with lusts of deceit. These characteristics, therefore, would not be obviously noticeable. The believer is to have an attitude of purity and holiness.
. See the differences noted in Colossians 1-4, Ephesians 5, and Galatians 5.
. Barclay, A New Testament Wordbook. 27.
. Vine, “Deceit, Deceitful, Deceitfully, Deceitfulness, Deceive, Deceivableness.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:151.