“There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” - Mark 7:15
Jesus now speaks directly to all of us; we are a part of the crowd. Picture yourself there. You heard his words addressed to the Pharisees, and now he looks at us and presents a new teaching on what defilement really means. “There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”
To the faithful Jew in the first century, this would have been a confusing statement. They were bound by many dietary restrictions. A couple examples: Meat and dairy could not be consumed together, and only animals that ate grass could be eaten, but the blood must be properly drained from them. There are still many faithful Jews who “keep kosher.” They continue to observe strict dietary laws. Most Christians, however, eat whatever they want; they may follow a particular diet but they don’t find themselves bound by religious laws about food.
Jesus is challenging the rules of defilement and asking his followers to redefine the meaning. It is not what we consume that defiles us since what we eat passes through the digestive system and is then eliminated. What defiles us is what passes out of our mouths or what is revealed by our actions. Adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, gossip and excessive pride are examples of what Jesus is communicating. It is our actions, and sometimes our lack of action that defile us.
Where have we intentionally spoken words that wound another? Or done something painful? Jesus is challenging all of us to look at how we live, how we speak, and how our words and behavior reflect what we believe. Many of us spend hours every day watching Netflix. What are we watching? How does it affect us? I have to admit I love watching movies but many of them are not uplifting. Often in a restaurant, people are so engrossed in their cell phone or iPad, they no longer communicate with each other. We have become consumers who let the internet interrupt family meals and get-togethers. These actions defile our relationships.
Remember the old saying, “You are what you eat?” Do you consume a healthy diet? If so, your body likely reflects that. If you constantly binge on burgers, fries, ice cream, and chocolate, your waistline is probably increasing and possibly your health is suffering as well. In the same way, our behavior, our words, and our actions reflect what we hold dear. Are we daily growing in Christian virtue? Do we repent when we sin? How do our lives reflect what we believe? Jesus calls us to not just believe in him but to live into him, to grow daily into his call on our lives.
Where do you see sources of defilement in your life? How do you want to change? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In our six-week small group Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
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