TO CHEW ON: "'But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.'" Matthew 15:18
I wonder if the Pharisees ever regretted criticizing Jesus' disciples for their non-hand-washing? The hand-washing they were talking about was part of Jewish oral tradition which had developed into a set of extra rules to help preserve the integrity of the law. The hand washing here was not for cleanliness but was a religious ritual (J. Lyle Story, notes on Matthew, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1317).
Jesus, recognizing this clash as a teaching moment, went to great lengths to explain to His disciples how silly this rule was in the scheme of things. Food that was touched and brought to the mouth with unwashed hands was soon eliminated, He said. But the real defilement came from what issued out of their mouths in speech. That originated in their thoughts - Matthew 15:17-19.
And here all of us, listening in these many generations later, are implicated. Who of us hasn't entertained thoughts of one or more of:
- murder (hatred - 1 John 3:15)?
- fornication [porneia compare pornography. Illicit sexual intercourse… The word describes both physical immorality and spiritual, signifying idolatry - Dick Mills, Word Wealth, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1318 -- emphasis added]?
- false witness (lying, non-verbal deception)?
- blasphemy ("slanders" - NASB) [Blasphemia: 1. Slander, detraction, speech injurious to another's good name; 2. impious and reproachful speech injurious to divine majesty]?
And so we agree with the prophet who said: "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked—who can know it?" - Jeremiah 17:9.
And we echo the confession of Paul: "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!" - Romans 7:24,25.
PRAYER: Dear God, before I disdain the scribes and Pharisees, I'd better examine my own heart for the defilement living in me, proved by my speech. Thank You for Jesus' blood that washes away my sins. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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