Flesh and Spirit

March 2, 2021

Then Peter answered and said to Him, "Explain this parable to us." So Jesus said, "Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man" (Matthew 15:15-20).

Physical corruption does not corrupt what is spiritual. That is the simple explanation of Jesus’ parable in v. 11. What is physical is differentiated from what is spiritual because they are 2 different things or classifications. Jesus was clear on this matter regarding salvation (John 3:6),  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

This is an important truth to be emphasized today. Religious forms do not and cannot cleanse the spirit. Self-flagellation or ‘flogging’ (the act of whipping yourself as punishment or as part of a religious ritual of cleansing or purification), submitting to crucifixion, climbing up a long set of stairs on one’s knees until they are bloody, etc. may be physical demonstrations of a person’s repentance of sin, but it is not repentance of sin. That’s a spiritual matter.

There are Christian groups that believe that a person is not truly saved until he/she is baptized. It’s not enough to confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9) they say, you must also be baptized to be saved. Baptism is an ordinance, an act ordained by Jesus to be practiced by His followers. It is an outward, physical expression of an inward, spiritual reality. It is “appropriately administered only to those who give a believable profession of faith in Jesus Christ” (Wayne Grudem).

Biblically, baptism it is not a part of salvation, but a picture of salvation - confession of sin and faith in Jesus Christ (death to self), burial of the old person (submersion in water), resurrection of the new person (emergence from the water). A person is saved not because he/she is baptized, but because he/she believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

It is the same principle Jesus conveyed to the disciples. The spirit of a person is not defiled by what's in the stomach; he/she is defiled by what's in the heart. A person is not saved by what he/she physically does (baptism, communion, etc.), but by what he/she spiritually does (believe in Jesus Christ and receive Him as Lord and Savior).

“Lord Jesus, thank You for the simple truth of the Gospel. Forgive us for making what is pure and simple and true - faith in You for the free gift of eternal life - into what is complex, corrupt, and false. Help me to keep Your Gospel clear, concise, and correct as I share it with others. To Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”


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