“Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”  [f] 17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18 “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) 20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” Mark 7.14-23
Jesus was confronting several topics at the same time in this teaching in Mark. First, he addresses food. Food doesn’t make someone spiritual “unclean.” Because food enters the stomach and goes out the body, says Jesus. However, what makes a person unclean is what the heart inhabits. Jesus says it’s what comes out of a person that defiles them. Meaning, what comes out of the person in actions, speech, behavior is what determines if someone is pure or not.
Jesus was saying all this in response to the Pharisees because his disciples were eating food without ceremonially washing their hands. And because of this, the Pharisees said his disciples were unclean.
Yet Jesus gets right to the heart of what is clean and unclean spiritually speaking. What makes someone unclean is sin – not some inanimate object like food. The Pharisees were concerned with outward appearances but Jesus and God are concerned with the heart.
In Luke 6.45, Jesus says, “from the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” This suggests the condition of the heart matters. If we have a sinful, blackened heart, we will be unclean. But if we live in the grace, love and forgiveness of Christ — our hearts will be clean. Trusting Jesus with our lives, allowing him to forgive us, cleanse us and redeem us is the only way to have a pure heart and soul.
You may be wondering if there are sins that you have committed that are beyond God’s ability to forgive. I assure you, there are not. Christ loves you and has forgiven your sins – past, present and future. Our continued pursuit of seeking the truth and seeking to live according to his righteousness will assure our spiritual health and wholeness. Trust in Jesus and seek him with your whole heart!
“O Lord God, redeem your people. Draw us back into a right relationship with you. Help us know the power of your love and the truth of your word. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill us with compassion and might. Help us be your instruments of grace to a world living in darkness. For you are good and your love endures forever.”