Spiritual Defilement

“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, ESV)

What Jesus was addressing here refers back to the beginning of Mark 7, the Pharisaical rules, particularly the ones concerning ceremonial washing and the washing of hands. We know that washing of the hands is important, especially before eating to avoid ingesting germs and toxins which can hurt us physically. This was not the reason why the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day were scrupulous in their washing rituals: they believed that it in itself was an act that marked them as righteous and made them holy. And they taught others the same.

Jesus pointed out that, while these rituals and rule had the outward appearance of piety, they did nothing to change the heart attitude of a person. In fact, as Jesus maintained, those who advocated for them were hypocrites. They attempted to follow rules out of a desire to look good on the outside. On the inside they did not love God or their fellow man. Their hearts, the core of their being, was not holy at all, but corrupt, lacking in love and filled with all manner of evil thoughts that manifested in corrupt words, actions, and lifestyles. Jesus said that food, dirty hands and cups did not make a person unclean or unholy. The evil thoughts and actions that arise from the heart corrupt a person, not what came from outside. The heart needs to be cleansed to be made new. This is possible only by the power of God who grants us the faith we need to depend on Him for all things.

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Seek God’s Wisdom.

 

“Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn her seven pillars. She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her young women to call from the highest places in the town, ‘Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!’” (Proverbs 9:1-4a, ESV)

Wisdom is a characteristic of God, one which He shares with human beings. In the book of Proverbs the author teaches this wisdom. He personifies it as a means of teaching truth and Godliness. He tells us that Wisdom has built her house on 7 pillars. Seven is the number of perfection so this indicates that her wisdom, God’s wisdom is complete. We need nothing more for life and holiness than this. The willing student recognizes the words of Wisdom and heeds them so that he may discern the truth from lies and make decisions that are godly, ethical and moral, not grounded in greed or selfishness. Wisdom and folly both call out to the simple and both set out a meal. Yet the meal provided by wisdom is delightful. Though often accompanied by strong teaching and rebuke, it is a blessing that brings wholeness.

The choice we have is between Wisdom and folly, God and self, life and death, and truth and the illusion created by lies. Making the proper choice is not as easy as it seems for wisdom is accompanied by rebuke and correction that is often hard to accept while folly seduces with promises of pleasure and an easy life. The person who scorns correction is a fool who turns on the wise and shuns the Lord. The wise person is humble, willing to accept rebuke, to learn from mistakes, for this leads to spiritual growth, godliness and contentment.