Jesus attacks a system of rules and regulations

Hypocrisy

In this passage Jesus was attacking a system which put rules and regulations before the claim of human need (vv. 8-13). The commandment of God was that the claim of human love should come first; the commandment of the scribes was that the claim of legal rules and regulations should come first. Jesus made it plain that any regulation which prevented a man from giving help where help was needed was nothing less than a contradiction of the law of God. We must be careful that we never allow rules to paralyze the claims of love. Nothing that prevents us helping a fellow man can ever be a rule approved by God.

In the Old Testament the Pharisees were not only strict in the ceremonial cleanliness of their bodies but gave careful attention to the ceremonial washing of cups, pots and brazen vessels. The Jewish Mishrahas, thirty chapters on just the cleansing of the vessels. These legalists had substituted ceremonial traditions and a formal observance of a list of prescribed rules and regulations for the clear commands of God’s Word.

Jesus explained that a man is not defiled by the food he eats but by the wicked thoughts that come from his heart (vv. 14-23). He explained that food does not defile a man because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, where the digestive process takes care of it (keep in mind that the Jew had and still has a whole system of things that are clean and unclean). It is a truly terrible list which Jesus cites of the things that come from the human heart. There is no greater mistake than to identify righteousness with certain so-called religious acts whether it be rules in eating or baptism, etc. When any religious group places more value on the outward than the inward it is hypocrisy and has ceased to be true Christianity.

Application

It is easy to become discouraged because of petty religious issues. What do I do to keep my life free from hypocrisy? I want to be motivated to serve the Lord because of genuine love and not rules.

Mark 7:14-23 (English Standard Version)

And he called the people to him again and said to them, "Hear me, all of you, and understand: 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." And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, "Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?" (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, "What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person."

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