Mark: According to
Defilement Comes From Within part B
6b “This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 7 And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men – the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do. 10 He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. 10 For Moses said, “Honor your father and your mother; and He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.” 11 But you say, If a man says to his father or mother, “whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban – (that is, a gift to God), 12 then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, 13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you handed down. And many such things you do.’”
Look around you, really take a look at those around you. I know the Bible tells me I should not be judgmental so, try not to judge as you look at those around you. What do you see? Well of course people, but watch them closely without them thinking you are some sort of weirdo. What do you see? In many cases we see people that profess to be one thing but in reality they are another. The deacon in the local church that always had a smile at church but as you sit in the corner of the coffee shop, he is cussing out the cashier for screwing up the change for his cup of coffee and bagel. Ok, as you watch you see others as well, they claim to be Christian with their lips but their actions and the motives that drive them appear to not be. Wait, I am certainly not saying I am perfect nor am I saying I am saying they are imperfect, for we all have a bad day here or there. The reality is, you can often tell who the true Christian from the pretend Christian by the consistency of their words and actions.
Is this what Jesus was talking about in verse six of Mark chapter seven? Or did Jesus have something else in mind? Well actually yes and no! Oh, there were certainly those among his listeners that their actions certainly spoke something different than their lips professed. But remember from our last post, we are also talking about traditions, the traditions of man verse the teachings of Jesus and the prophets. We are talking about those that are thought to be clean because of their traditions on how they ceremonially wash their hands hoping it would bring cleanliness into their heart. Which by the way, had nothing to do with actually being spiritually clean!
Then what are we talking about? Verse 8 puts it so bluntly, and sometimes bluntly is good for it gives us little opportunity for guessing. “For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the traditions of men the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other things you do.”
Hang with me here, if the issue involved is defilement, what does washing of pitchers and cups and many other things you do, have to do with defilement? Are pitchers and cups and many other such things making us unclean? Or are they symbols of things we are so worried about keeping clean that we forget about what is truly important to keep clean? And what is important for us to keep clean. Why of course, it is our heart. Which of course is a reference about our mind, our thoughts, our actions. Jesus states it so well in Mark 7:9; “all too well you reject the commandments of God, that you may keep your traditions.” Paying attention to the external instead of focusing on the commandments of God which is not just the Ten Commandments, but all that God has commanded or revealed to us through his will (see Matthew 22:37, 39). According to Ecclesiastes 12:13; “This is the whole duty of man.” The ideal is set before us in that being “perfect,” even as our “Father which is in heaven is perfect” (see Matthew 5:48). Do our man-made traditions make us perfect? Of course not. Can the commands and the commandments of God make us perfect? Yes, but because of our sinful nature, which generation after generation has become more and more ingrained in us we fail to fully live up to the commandments of God. But by faith, and this is why Christ made such an emphasis on faith, when we accept Christ as our Saviour, He makes up for us where we are incapable of attaining for ourselves. God’s grace, steps in on our behalf to make up the difference where I cannot meet the commandments of God.
Does this mean I am free to do as I please? Of course not, for didn’t Jesus say, “If you love me, keep my Commandments” (John 14:15).
Therefore Defilement must come from within. When I insist upon having my own way. When I insist upon filling my mind (heart) full of things that are unpleasing to God which are not in keeping with His commands and His wishes for me, then I become defiled, which then spills out in the way I talk, think, and act toward others and God.
Jesus then gave us an example of what He meant by referring to the fifth commandment which tell us to “Honor your Father and Mother that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God gives you” Exodus 20:12
This is the only commandment with a promise, and I used to think this only applied to the children of Israel for they were promised and given a land. But I have come to realize this isn’t talking about ancient Israel and the land referred to here is not promise land given to Israel of old. Instead the land referred to here is the kingdom of heaven. This is the promise given to all that will be partakers in the Kingdom of Heaven and if we fail to follow the principle of this commandment then we will not live long. If we fail to follow this commandment then we will not inherit land in the Kingdom of Heaven for we will not be partakers in God’s kingdom because our actions, words, thoughts, and deeds show us that we have not followed God’s commandments.
But Jesus states it this way. “For Moses said, Honor your father and your mother’; and He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death. 11 But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban” (that is a gift to God), 12 Then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother. 13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And Many such things you do.”’”
There are two separate things going on in the text above. Let’s quickly look at them. First, Christ is quoting from the Ten Commandments and from the civil law which is found in Exodus 21:17. Second; the point Jesus is making in the last half of verse ten where it says, “He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.” This is from the civil law but is actually a reference back to Genesis 2:17 where the Hebrew text literally reads; “Dying you will die.” In other words, death was to be the inevitable penalty for an infraction of the fifth commandment.
But the Jews out of the selfishness or defilement within their heart had found a way to circumvent the command of God.
11 But you say, “If a man says to his father or mother, Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban (that is, a gift to God), 12 then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, 13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
Wow, did you catch what Jesus is saying? For all practical purposes, you have invalidated the fifth commandment. Here Jesus stood before the assembled throng as the champion of their rights, whereas the scribes and Pharisees were revealed in the true light as hypocrites and as enemies of both God and their fellow men. Jesus included and concluded by saying that this was not an isolated case, which the scribes and Pharisees themselves well knew.
Before continuing let’s unpack what Christ has just said and implied. I do not know the circumstances each of us have had in regard to our earthly parents. Some have been treated fantastic by their parents while others, while others have sadly had to suffer. Yet according to the Ten Commandments, we are still to honor our parents, treat them with Christian love and respect. As what happens to many parents, they grow old, or run into financial difficulty or need caring for in some respect. Yet in the case of the Jewish tradition, one could disregard the Ten Commandments by saying Corban, in which you are then free of the obligation of supporting or helping your parents, because that money would then be dedicated to the temple and the temple services. But now here comes the interesting yet very sad part. Even though you had pledged your money to the temple and its service, you were still free for as long as you lived to control and do with your money as you pleased. You could use it to purchase property, invest in a business or anything that would cause your wealth to increase, or if a poor business person to decrease without any fear of consequences to yourself. The money, goods possessions and anything else you pledged were still yours to do with as you pleased, it was only upon your death that they would be turned over to the temple.
Nothing like having your cake and eating it too. So no matter how we attempt to keep the exterior clean, our actions, our words, our thoughts show how defiled we really are.
I can hear some saying: “Wait a minute, it is speaking about the things we put in our body, these are the things that make us unclean.” But that is not what Christ says, and he used the example of food and how the food we eat does not defile us.
Which causes another of you to shout out, “But then that means we can eat anything for it is not what we eat that matters.” You could say that, and many have tried to use that as an excuse, but why then is it that the book of Leviticus gives us examples of what we should and shouldn’t eat? It was so we could be happy and healthy members of society. For you see the whole Bible is about making us physically, spiritually and mentally happy and connected with God who by the way is searching for all his lost sheep, coins, and son (and daughters) that have become lost, misplaced or purposely run away.
Over the remaining verses of this section, Christ tried to show His disciples and the listening crowd that defilement comes from within. It is the natural result of sin, but it is through contact with Christ, that our old heart of sin, can be exchanged for a new heart, a heart in which all defilement has been removed. Then we will as King David said. “I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law (commandments) is within my heart.”
Then there will be no need for us to shout “Corban” dedicating our possessions to God because we will naturally do the will of God, by caring for others with our time, and possessions.
Then may we say, “Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come in the volume of the book it is written of Me – To do your will, O God.’” Then He said, “behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews 10:7, 9, and 10.
But, it all starts with the renewing of our heart filled with defilement for a heart filled with the spirit of God. And this can only happen when we develop a relationship with Jesus. Listening to His words, His commands, and putting the traditions of men behind us, which only shows how defiled our heart really is.