Washing the Heart

March 3, 2021

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 15:19-20).

Jesus said it’s not what goes in the mouth and into the stomach that defiles (to make or consider profane; polluted, unclean) a person, but what comes out of the mouth that proves the person is already defiled (vv.17-18). It’s a heart thing.

To the ancient Jews the heart symbolized the inner person, the core of who and what a person is. When Jesus said out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, etc., He was saying, “all of the evil and wicked and sinful stuff you do on the outside comes from who you are on the inside.” Whether they are relegated to the heart, the mind, or the spirit, they still originate from within. When one’s attitudes, desires, motives, thoughts, emotions, etc. are sinful or evil, it is an indication that a person is already ‘defiled’ (polluted, corrupt).

In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 - 7) Jesus explained to the crowd that sinful behavior (external) is rooted in the sinful heart (internal) of a person. You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.” But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!” shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, “You fool!” shall be in danger of hell fire (Matthew 5:21-22). And, You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:27-28).

All sinful conduct proceeds from a sinful nature. The Apostle James wrote, But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death (James 1:14-15). The Prophet Jeremiah said, The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9). Since the problem is inside us, what is the solution? Certainly not washing the hands, or even the whole body in water like the Pharisees taught!

What we need is a ‘heart’ that has been cleansed. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:4-7).

“Thank You, Lord Jesus, for cleansing and purifying me inside and out through Your atoning sacrifice on the cross. I pray I will honor You today in all that I am and in all I do. Amen.”


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