Mark 7:14 Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”
Mark 7:17 When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 He said to them, “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, 19 since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. 21 For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, 22 adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Jesus made it clear that the motivations of the heart had a direct effect on personal behaviors. A heart change was needed for God’s people. The religious officials had been concerned about the disciples washing (or not washing) of their hands. What they didn’t understand was that all the external rituals that they could follow would do nothing for heart transformation. Whether they washed hands or not they were still guilty of all kinds of other activities — many of which they probably tried to keep hidden from those around them. They knew how to look good on the right occasions but when it came to their daily lives and their heart motivations, they were just as guilty as the worst sinner.
About the time I came into my teenage years the phrase, “The Devil made me do it” became quite popular. Flip Wilson was an American comedian who popularized this phrase during his comedy routine. It began with a character he created, a preacher’s wife, who simply had to buy a dress but when confronted with her purchase by her “Rev.” husband — she blamed it all on the Devil. There was no way she was going to take personal responsibility for her choice and neither did she recognize that her behavior came from her heart’s desires.
The Devil doesn’t make us do anything — the motivations of our heart will drive our behavior. Blaming the Devil means that we don’t take responsibility for our own actions, which Jesus listed; “fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly.” All of these come out of the heart of an individual who refuses to allow God’s Holy Spirit to work to transform. The truth is that it’s painful, at times, to admit that we have areas in our lives which have not been submitted to God. It’s easier to go on pretending on the outside that we are doing all the right things without allowing God to work on the issues of our heart. The problem is that sooner or later the motivations of your heart will come through and be revealed in your behaviors. You can’t cover up or hide what’s in your heart forever!
There are no excuses for our behaviors and no one to blame but the issues of the heart that have not been submitted to the authority of Jesus Christ. When he comes in and fills us then our lives are transformed and his love leaves no room for sin. There is no room for excuses but only a life wholeheartedly submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and the result is that Jesus will be reflected in every behavior.
Lord, search my heart and help me be fully submitted to you. Amen.
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