GOSPEL OF MARK – ROBBY GALLATY – Program 21
By: Dr. Robby Gallaty
|By: Pastor Robby Gallaty; ©2010|
|In the midst of our problems, we need someone to help us: to remove those high mountains we face. The same is true for our spiritual problems.|
The Outsiders are Allowed to Come In.
We’re systematically, expositionally walking through the book of Mark and, if you remember last week, the title of the message last week was Beware: The Deception of Man-Made Doctrines, Part 1. This week, we’ll pick up with Part 2. Beware: The Deception of Man-Made Doctrines. This morning my goal is simple. You will learn the root of corruption that has affected mankind and when you leave today you’ll also know the cause and the solution for removing it from your life. If you have your Bibles, turn with me to Mark 7:14.
There are three questions we’ll answer this morning. The first one is this: What defiles you? Secondly: Does defilement come from the outside? And then, thirdly: Does defilement come from the inside? Three questions we will examine. Mark 7:14: “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.’”
Let me give you kind of a context. If you remember, Jesus is dealing with the corrupt Pharisees and the scribes about a question concerning the washing of his hands, if you remember. And what Jesus starts with is this: he says, “Hear me, all of you.” That word “hear” is an interesting word. It’s used nine times in the book of Mark and it always has to do with a pronouncement. Jesus is saying, “Listen, pay attention, don’t miss this. I’m about to give you something pretty amazing.” Now, last week if you remember the section from 1-13, we labeled it as the defilement on the outside. We’re going to turn the corner this week and we’re going to look at defilement on the inside.
I want you to write the first point down as this. Here’s the question: So, Robby, what defiles me? Or what defiles you? Look at it in the text. Verse 14, “[He] 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.’”
What is the key word in this text here? As you see it, what’s repeated over and over? The word what? Defile. It’s used five times in this passage. It’s used 14 times in the New Testament and 10 of those 14 times—don’t miss this—are used in the parallel account between Mark and Matthew, 10 times in this one account. It’s important for us to understand what this word is. That word defile means to be made common. It’s the word that also means to be impure. It means to desecrate. It means to be unclean. Remember what Jesus is going up against. He is responding to the question about washing hands. And what he does is this. He says don’t miss this. What makes you impure is not on the outside. He hits at the heart of the issue, which is on the inside.
John MacArthur, talking about this passage, said this: “The Pharisees had so idolized their own system of tradition, that they had actually taught that God had spent all day studying his own law and then he spent all night studying the man-made law of the Mishnah. That’s what they said. Some believed that God even presided over the heavenly Sanhedrin. That the rabbi sat next to God with their own holiness and that they taught and studied the Hallah together. They taught that God had spent so much time studying the law and the Mishnah every day that they had actually God in a box within their own imaginative, petty, foolish, and wicked system.”
See, the tradition of the elders had become so overbearing at this time that the Pharisees of the first century created something called the law of intention. Have you ever heard of this before? The law of intention was the idea that you didn’t actually have to follow the ceremonial or the ritualistic laws of the day. You just had to intend to do it. And as long as you intended to do it and had good motives, you were free from carrying out the law. They had become so hypocritical in the first century that they had circumvented their own man-made traditions.
Now, if you’ve been reading the Bible with me and you’ve noticed, notice verse 15 and notice verse 17. If you have the English Standard Version, the New Revised Version, or the New International Version, your Bible doesn’t contain verse 16, right? In fact, if you have the New American Standard Version, your verse 16 is in brackets. Now, before you call the printer and before you get bent out of shape, don’t miss this. That verse is under contention as to whether it was actually in the original canon. The NASB puts brackets over it to let you know that. Here’s the point without getting bent out of shape. The verse does not affect the meaning of the text. And so as we’ve asked the first question, what defiles you? The second question and the logical one is this: does defilement come from the outside? And that’s what Jesus says.
Look at it. Verse 17, “And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable.” Or a riddle, if you will. “And he said to them, ‘Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot [that’s the key word] defile him [underline that] since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?’ (Thus he declared [that’s the key phrase] all foods clean.”)
See, we don’t get the weight of this passage because you and I have the whole New Testament canon. But the first century hearers, when they heard Jesus say these words, it was radical. I mean, it was revolutionary that Jesus would say this. Jesus is freeing Christianity at this point from the bondage of legalism, which we saw in the first century. Here’s the question then: if the ceremonial cleansing on the outside didn’t cleanse the person, then why would God do it in the first place? I mean, that’s a good question. If washing hands and washing bowls didn’t do anything for cleansing, then why did God say to do that back in the Old Testament?
Church, you have to understand this. God was always doing or implementing physical outward actions to show a spiritual inward condition. Did you see that? He’s always making them do things outwardly to prove what was happening inwardly. And that’s what he’s doing with this. Remember worship. In the Old Testament, God said when you come to me and worship through sacrificing, make sure you cleanse yourself. Cleanse your hands. Cleanse your heart. Cleanse your body. He wanted them to see not only do I want the outward clean, I want you to be cleansed within from sin. Remember circumcision in the Old Testament? Circumcision was pulling or cutting the foreskin. But God said circumcision was not just about the outward cutting. Circumcision is actually about the heart. Remember what he said in Deuteronomy 10:16? “Circumcise, therefore, the foreskin of your heart and be no longer stubborn.” Romans 2:29, “But a Jew is one inwardly and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit not by the letter.”
It’s the same thing with food. See, what Jesus is saying is this: since the physical can only affect the physical, the spiritual and the physical are two different orders here. Notice what he’s saying. Physical corruption, no matter how defiling it is, cannot affect the moral or the spiritual person. And so what he says is this: you can clean your hands all you want. You can perform all the rituals, all the ceremonies, you can obey all the man-made traditions but it will not cleanse you spiritual. Look what he says in verse 18: “Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him….” This is radical in the first century.
When I came home from work one day, I’ll never forget. I walked into the house. My mom said, “Hurry up. Drop your books and help now.” What had happened was a pipe in our bathroom had broken and it was spilling water all over the bathroom. Anybody ever had this problem before? You ever had a broken pipe in the house? I mean, it’s horrible. It’s stressful, if you think about it. So what did I do naturally when I came in the house? Drop the books and grab what? Towels and a mop, and I went to town. I started mopping up and I started fixing towels and I started cleaning up the water.
But let’s just say for a moment, as we’re beginning to mop up this water and wipe it up with the towels, we’re mopping it up and we throwing it out. We’re coming in with new towels and we’re taking the mop and we’re hauling the water out and we’re coming in and we’re cleaning up and we’re hauling. And we realized about halfway through that we’re not making a dent in the problem because the water is still coming from the pipe. At that point what would we do? Would we continue cleaning up the mess? No. We would search for the root of the problem right? We would stop fooling around with mopping up and we would try to fix the source of the issue. What Jesus is saying is, “Guys, listen. You’re just mopping up a mess and there is an inner root problem that you’ve got to deal with and it’s your heart. You have a problem of the heart. You’re defiled not from the outside. You’re defiled from the inside.”
I love what it says in Matthew 15:12. Turn with me to see what Jesus says about the same passage. Matthew gives us an interesting commentary on the response of the Pharisees when Jesus says this. “Then the disciples came and said to him, ‘Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?’ He answered, ‘Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.’”
By calling the Pharisees blind guides, what they’re saying, what Jesus is saying is this: not only are they leading blind people, they’re actually blind themselves. And he says if they’re not careful they’ll fall into a pit. Now this could be a man-made pit. But James Montgomery Boice believes it’s something more than that. He said Jesus was probably referring to the bottomless pit in which there is an eternal darkness and weeping and gnashing of teeth. So the question is this: does defilement come from the outside or, notice the third question, does defilement come from the inside? And that’s the heart of the matter here.
Look at verse 20: “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.’”
Now, don’t miss this church. Every time you see the word heart in the New Testament, it’s always the word mind. It’s the mind. There was a book that was written, The Battlefield of the Mind. So the heart and the mind in the New Testament are interchangeable. Can you sense the corruption from these terms? Do you see the repulsiveness of the words that Jesus uses? Out of these words here, 12 on the list, the first six are in the plural sense and it almost gives us the idea these are acts which are committed. The second six are actually in the singular tense and they’re dealing with different kinds of evil.
Let me give you just kind of a running commentary on the words. You can write some of this down. Let’s take the first one. Evil thoughts. Don’t you know that before someone sins, there is also this contemplation of evil? And Jesus says that’s the root of the problem. Then he says sexual immorality. Immorality is the word where we get the word porneia in the Greek, which is where we get the English word what? Pornography. Do you see it? Then he says theft and murder and adultery are also condemned. Then he moves to coveting or greed. This is the idea of desiring another person’s possessions.
Wickedness is the desire to inflict pain on another person or to ask someone else to join in sin with you. Deceit means to bait someone in. It means to entice them. Sensuality or lewdness, as one translation says, is the idea of plunging into sin. It’s this mentality, “I’m going to do what I want to do and I don’t care what anybody thinks about it.” Envy refers to desiring another’s possessions again. Slander or blasphemia, as it is in the Greek, is the idea of not only blaspheming God but blaspheming another person. Pride or arrogance, this is the idea of praising oneself, putting oneself on a pedestal. Finally, look at it, foolishness or folly. This is the idea of a person who is sensitized morally or spiritually.
See, this is what Jesus is saying. The problem is not what goes into the stomach, guys. Don’t miss this, it’s what comes out of the heart. And you have created all these man-made doctrines, all these systems to cleanse yourself, which have actually become the very means for bondage. You’ve done all these things to be cleansed. But you’re actually imprisoned by them. Jesus makes an incredible statement here. This is what he’s saying. He’s saying corruption comes out of the heart.
We know that from the Old Testament, right? Remember Jeremiah 17:9? “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can understand it?” Remember Romans 3:23. “All have [what?] sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:10, “There is no one righteous. No, not one.” There’s no one who understands. No one seeks after God. They’ve all turned away. They’ve all together become meaningless. There is no one righteous, no not one. See, the problem with the Pharisees is this: they were treating the external problem and Jesus said there’s a deep rooted issue. You’re just putting a band-aid on the problem; but, guys, don’t miss this, there is something that is happening within that you must address
See, the reason I went to rehab two times before being set free from an addiction was because the first two times I did it by myself. And the problem was this: I did all of these things right. I answered all the questions. I went through all the steps. But the problem was this: I was still bound to sin. See, that’s what Jesus does. When you ask the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins through repentance and you put your faith in him, he not only breaks you away from being a sinner, he breaks you away from the bondage of sin. And so you’re not bound by it anymore. See, recovery without Christ—don’t miss this—is a dead end street. You’ll go a little ways on the road, but one day that road will come to an end. That’s why when people come to me in my office with an addiction of any kind, the first question I ask them and it should be the first question you ask them is this: have you truly repented of your sins? Have you truly placed your faith in Christ? Because if you haven’t, we can’t go on anymore. You can do all right things. You can answer all the right questions. You can go to all the meetings. You can go to every rehab treatment you want in the world but you’re still bound to sin. And that’s what Jesus is saying.
He brings it to a conclusion. And the Pharisees have to be asking themselves the question, “Okay. We get it. How can I cleanse my heart?” I mean, that’s what you have to be asking. How can someone cleanse that which is within themselves? What Jesus is saying is this: You can cleanse all the food. You can watch your diet. You can wash all the bowls. You can wash your hands as much as you want. But you’re still defiled.
When I went to rehab the second time, actually the first time, I went to Tijuana, Mexico, of all places for treatment and recovery. Can you imagine that? Tijuana, Mexico, to get help. And I went with my mother. And one of the things is after I would do the 10 hours of treatment, they would give us time to go on breaks. We went down to the market of Tijuana, Mexico, and, if you’ve ever been to Mexico before, there’s a huge market. And people sell everything there. I mean Oakley sunglasses, Coach purses, and the third one is Rolex watches. They actually have Rolex watches down in Mexico. You need Rolex. Give you good deal. Me? I need a Rolex? $300. $300? No thanks. I kept walking. $150. I said no thanks. And the funny thing was the more I walked, the cheaper the watch got. I was able to talk this guy down from $300 all the way down to $25.
And I have to be honest, it looked real. I mean, he even said, “You need Rolex. Real Rolex. Not tick. Roll. The hand rolls.” I looked at that thing. That’s how you tell a real Rolex. The hand rolls. I thought, “This is real. I’m going to pay $25.” And I wore that Rolex. I went into a jewelry shop when we came over the border and we’re about to go to the airport. And I compared that Rolex watch to the one in the case and would you believe it looked exactly the same. And at that moment, I looked at my mom and said, “I might have a stolen Rolex here!” I mean, how am I going to get on the plane and get this back home?”
I got back home and I have to admit the thing worked for about three months. And then all of a sudden it started to lose time. I had to reset it again and it would lose time again. And I said, “You know what? Let me take this thing apart. I don’t know how to fix watches but let me just take the back off.” That was a bad idea, right? When I took the back to the watch off, I realized it wasn’t a real Rolex. And I did all that I could to replace it. I could get the right parts and I could put the parts in. I could continue to set the time, but as much as I needed to do to the watch, I needed a new watch. I needed a new replacement. I couldn’t fix something that was unfixable.
Do you know your heart is the same way? You don’t need to keep resetting your heart. You can’t put replacement parts in. You need a total heart transplant, right? We live in a world today where people sit on a waiting list for a heart transplant and they wait and they pray and they ask the Lord “Could you please give a donor to give me a new heart?” You know, as a believer, you don’t have to wait for a heart transplant? Isn’t that good news this morning? When you cry out to the Lord in faith through repentance, he says, “I’m going to give you a new heart. You’re going to be new creation. You’re going to be a new person. I make all things new. You’re going to be born again.” In 2 Corinthians 5:17, I think it says it best. “If anyone’s in Christ, he’s a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things are new.”
The problem is this, though. These guys didn’t understand that, because there were two things in the way. Here are the two problems in the text from the Pharisees. First of all, they had created all these traditions and ceremonies to fix the problem. They had relied on tradition over the word of God. And then, the second thing they did was this: they did not recognize that corruption was within. It was in the heart. They had put up all these fences and all this defense against corruption, and they were actually fighting a losing battle, because the problem was coming from within.
And this is a message not just for believers but for unbelievers. See, as a believer, when the Lord comes in your life and sets you free from sin, you have a choice. Do I submit to the Spirit or do I give in to the flesh? That’s what you do every day you wake up as a believer. This isn’t just for unbelievers. This is for believers. I think that’s why the great Puritan John Owens said it this way: You will be killing sin or sin will be killing you. Do you know, it would put anything past you, apart from the grace of God, you can commit any one of these sins in the text. Do you believe that? Any one of those sins, as a believer, you can commit if you give in to the flesh. That’s why it’s so important for you and I every day we wake up. We need to say, “God, I’m surrendering my life to you. I’m committing my life to you. I’m repenting of anything I’ve done and I’m desperate for your grace in my life. I’m desperate for you to lead me and to guide me.”
“Robby, what’s the central theme of the passage?” See, the central theme of the passage, I believe is this: Jesus is showing the Pharisees—don’t miss this—that you must have a dependence on him for cleansing. And what he’s doing is he’s actually removing the physical barriers that separated the insiders from the outsiders. That’s what he’s doing. Jesus is actually saying there is a separation between the Jews and the Gentiles and I’m bringing the wall down.
Church, it’s easy for us to look at the first century Jews and belittle them for their traditions, right, for their legalism? But don’t we do it today sometimes? In churches today, we have tons of people who get caught up in the same legalistic, traditional way of doing things and they circumvent the word of God by putting tradition above the Lord. Do you see that in churches today? The answer is yes, right? We see that in churches all the time today. Traditions are necessary. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have tradition. We need tradition. Baptist tradition is good. The tradition that the word of God is the supreme authority, inerrant, infallible, we believe that. The tradition that we come to church to a building, that’s a tradition. The tradition that you have a pastor and the pastor preaches on Sunday morning, that’s a tradition. Those are good things.
But let me give you three things that people fall in a trap when they put tradition above the word of God. How about Bible translations? We’ve got people, believe it or not, in this world that think that if you don’t preach out of a certain translation or read out of a certain translation, it’s not the authorized version. In fact, one of the first times I preached at a church, I’ll never forget. They called me on the phone. They said, “Pastor, we only use the Authorized Version here, and so you don’t have a choice. I hope you use the Authorized Version.” I didn’t have an authorized version! I had to go buy one to preach at these churches. And the problem is this: these people were passionate about the word of God but when I got up to preach, you know what I witnessed? A dead church, people who weren’t excited about the things of God, people who were stale. One of the things I found out is that most of the people that argue—not most, some, I’d say—some of the people that are arguing for a specific translation most of the time don’t read the translation they’re arguing for. They go to bat for the translation, but they’re not reading the word of God. It’s become old and mundane and stale.
What about worship music? Ouch. Worship style? If we don’t sing it the right way with the right tone with the right music with the right words with the right arrangement, then it’s not good enough for us, Pastor. Don’t you know when you read the New Testament and the Old Testament God never gives us sheet music? Did you know that? I mean, there’s no way to sing the music. There’s no way to sing the songs. I mean, there’s no tempo, there’s no measure, there’s no beat, there’s no orchestration, there’s no sheet music. Why? Because God is not interested in the music. He’s interested in the attitude of the heart. Just like the Pharisees, you can come every single Sunday. You know all the songs that you know by memory. You can sing all the words. You can look the right way and in your heart you can be cold and far from God. Jesus said your lips are close to me but your hearts are far from me.
What about the way you dress on Sunday? That’s a tradition. I used to have people tell me at my former church, “Pastor, you need to dress God’s best. You need to put on your Sunday best to the Lord.” And hear me out. I’m not against dressing up for church. But the question is, who determines what is dressed up? I mean, do you need a coat and tie to be dressed up on Sunday? Can you wear a nice shirt on Sunday instead? Do you need to have a suit on or could nice jeans be okay for Sunday morning? Do you need a shirt that pressed or unpressed? Does it need cuffs or does it need to be buttoned? Do you need to have front pleats or do you need to have flat front? Is that okay? Do you need to wear ladies pants or will capris work on Sunday morning? Do you need to have your shirt tucked in or do you need to have your shirt tucked out? Or can you wear a sweater vest in the winter? Will that do for the coat? And I like sweater vests. Listen, I’m not against tradition but when tradition gets into the way of worship, there’s a problem. And there are people that will hold to tradition over worship.
You know, it’s interesting about dresses. It’s never addressed in the Bible. There’s nowhere in the Bible where it says how to dress and I would submit to you that Jesus Christ himself would not be allowed in many Baptist churches in America and in the world. Think about it. Because Jesus, when he came to church, he wore the common clothes of the day. Jesus was wearing a linen robe and sandals. You find many people coming to church in a linen robe and sandals and it being acceptable. I know I’m treading on thin ice here, but the point I want to make this morning is this: to me, the way we dress, the songs we sing, the translations we use should not circumvent the word of God. You can do all the right things right like the Pharisees. You can say the right words, you can do the right things and you can be judgmental in your heart and that’s what Jesus is saying.
John 7:24 he says this, I love it, “Don’t judge by appearance. Judge with righteous judgment.” See, the bigger issue is not the outer clothes. It’s your inner heart. It’s what’s going on in your heart. Jesus is eradicating the walls that separated the Jews from the Gentiles. In fact, I would submit to you, church, that this is what Paul used when he said to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 10, “Eat whatever is set before you. Don’t build up walls with one another.” He said it again in Romans 14, “No food is unclean.” Why, Paul? Because you need to sit and be with the people. You don’t need to let food or anything separate you from others. He goes on that same chapter three times, in verse 4 and verse 10 and verse 13, and he says stop judging others. And then he says in verse 19, “So let us pursue what makes for peace and for the mutual upbuilding of the body.”
Let me ask you a question. Are you communicating that the dirty, that the unfit and the separated should not be part of the fellowship by your actions? Let me ask you this question. Are you judgmental to people who don’t dress a certain way on Sunday? Are you judgmental of people who don’t use the same translation as you? Are you judgmental of people who don’t sing the same songs as you do? Because if you do, I would say that Jesus is saying from the text you need to look within. You need to ask yourself the question, “Do I show love for other people?” You know, maybe the reason you’re not going on mission trips is because you’re separated and judgmental of other people. Maybe you need to have a heart change this morning. Have you turned to Jesus for cleansing today? That’s what Jesus is saying.
Here’s the question: how do we fix the problem of defilement within? This is how. You repent of your sins and you put your faith in Christ. Well, Robby, I’ve already done that. I’m a believer. You need to do it again. How often should we repent of our actions and our sins? Whenever we sin. And there are believers who have gotten to the place where we need cleansing. We need to be cleansed. We need to be filled with the Spirit of God. So I want to ask you this morning, do you need to do that? Maybe you’re in this place today and you realize that the problem is not with the outside world, the problem is in your heart and you’ve never asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins. You’ve never cried out for forgiveness. You’ve never cried out for redemption and you haven’t cried out for salvation. Let us not be deceived, church, by man-made doctrines. We need to always ask ourselves this question: does the word of God reign supreme in my life over all traditions on the world? And if the answer is yes, then I think we would say like Jesus said, the problem is not from the outside. The problem is within and we are desperately in need of him.