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MATTHEW 15 (ESV)
1 Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” 3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” 6 he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. 7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:
8 “‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
9 in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.”16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”
- The delegation from Jerusalem challenged Christ with not teaching His disciples to “wash their hands” before they ate. This washing was not hygienic, but a matter of ritual “cleanness”. In Old Testament religion, to be “clean” meant to be in a state of ritual purity that permitted a person to approach and worship God. The Pharisees and teachers of the Law had multiplied the rules governing ritual purity, and treated them as though their rules had the force of Scripture.
- Jesus directly attacked this whole way of thinking when He taught that “what goes into a man’s mouth” (external) cannot make him unclean. What really disqualifies a person for worship are those things which “come out of the heart”.
- Are you like the Pharisees, caring much about how you look on the outside, but neglect the purity on the inside; focusing on legalism/following the rules instead of being faithful to God and sensitive to the Holy Spirit?
- Read through the sins listed in v19. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you the filth and darkness there. Ask God for forgiveness and cleansing of your heart.
Dear Lord, You have said, “What goes into the mouth cannot defile a person, but what comes out of the mouth can defile a person.” Lord, restore the holiness of my heart, create in me a clean heart, renew a right spirit within me, and sanctify me to be a vessel of your honor and glory. I have resolved to present my body as a living sacrifice, to be a vessel of Your holiness, and to proclaim the name of Christ all my life. Amen!
Cleanse Me (Search Me, O God) – youtu.be/55voUa0u8Vc