February 22, 2021
When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, "Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man" (Matthew 15:10-11).
After confronting the Scribes and Pharisees in opposition to their false doctrines, Jesus took the opportunity to speak to the crowd about the real issue behind their corruption. It’s a heart problem. The elders of Israel believed the issue was ignoring and/or rejecting ceremonial law. But their traditions were a corruption of the ceremonial law - it was the Law of Moses that was being ignored and rejected. Jesus knew the problem went beyond keeping Mosaic Law.
The elders of Israel believed that external things are what defile a person. On this all of their teachings about purification were founded. Jesus needed to correct this false doctrine. He took the opportunity to correct the deceit and direct the people to the true source of defilement - their own hearts. (Jeremiah 17:9) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? To emphasize the significance of this He told them to “hear and understand.”
The Scribes and Pharisees accused the disciples of being sinners for transgressing the tradition of the elders in eating with unwashed hands. Jesus said what people eat does not make them sinners. Didn’t God’s Law have dietary aspects to it? Yes. To protect their health, not to condemn their souls. A person, a soul, cannot be morally or spiritually polluted by anything he eats. He can become sick, he can damage his physical health and well-being, but he cannot damn his soul by what he eats.
What proceeds from the man, what he says, how he lives, etc. comes from the heart. Jesus said it’s the heart that ‘defiles’ him. To defile is to make common; to pollute, corrupt, or make sinful. It is amazing how the elders made the leap from physical food to spiritual pollution. But it’s guised in the sham of religion, not truth. In truth, Jesus declared all foods clean and acceptable. (Mark 7:18-19) Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?
Those who know the truth have a responsibility to stand on that truth, confront those who denigrate it, and teach it to those who will hear it. In today’s environment that’s not popular, but it is very, very necessary.
“ Lord Jesus, thank You for opening my eyes to the truth of Your Word. Help me to not only stand firm on the truth, but to declare it to those who need to hear it. May I never compromise Your truth with religious tradition or ceremony. To Your glory and honor I ask, Amen.”