is a peculiar fact: Jesus dealt with any number of sins in kindness and
gentleness – but the Pharisees he treated with wrath and contempt. Why is
Pharisees were committing the unforgivable sin. They saw righteousness and
called it evil, so that they might consider themselves sinless.
took upon themselves the authority God had given to the prophets. They
were dragging his name in the mud.
yet, they added their regulations to the burden of God’s people.
The Pharisees and some of the
scribes gathered around Him when they had come from
Jerusalem, and had seen that some of His disciples were
eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed.
(For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless
they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the
traditions of the elders; and when they come from the
market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse
themselves; and there are many other things which they
have received in order to observe, such as the washing
of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) The Pharisees and
the scribes *asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk
according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their
bread with impure hands?" And He said to them, "Rightly
did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
'THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART
IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. 'BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.' "Neglecting
the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of
men." He was also saying to them, "You are experts at
setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep
your tradition. "For Moses said, 'HONOR YOUR FATHER AND
YOUR MOTHER'; and, 'HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR
MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH'; but you say, 'If a man
says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that
would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to
God),' you no longer permit him to do anything for his
father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God
by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do
many things such as that." After He called the crowd to
Him again, He began saying to them, "Listen to Me, all
of you, and understand: there is nothing outside the man
which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things
which proceed out of the man are what defile the man.
["If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."] When he
had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples
questioned Him about the parable. And He *said to them,
"Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not
understand that whatever goes into the man from outside
cannot defile him, because it does not go into his
heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?" (Thus
He declared all foods clean.) And He was saying, "That
which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the
man. "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed
the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders,
adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as
deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and
foolishness. "All these evil things proceed from within
and defile the man."
(Mark 7:1-23 NASB)
business of being unclean can be hard to understand. Think of it this way: it
is the shadow of sin. It is the portrayal of what sin is like.
Sin is caused by…
unclean is caused by any number of things in the Old Testament. It is useful
to classify them.
there are forms of being unclean in the body. These forms would include
leprosy, a woman’s menstrual discharge and others. There are lessons in
this. First, this shows the nature of sin as proceeding from within. (In
other words, the devil did not make you do it). Also, these sins may be
completely visible or invisible – so we are cautioned not to judge others,
for the appearance may be fine but the disease within.
are other forms which relate to touching something – for example, a dead
body. If you will, the unclean person was in the wrong place (as in,
where somebody just died). We understand that in terms of sin also. Your
mother taught you that bad company corrupts good morals; therefore you
should watch the company you keep. This also applies to geography; there
are some places that most Christians should not go.
certain foods was another source of uncleanness. This is a relatively
easy one to see in sin; have you been reading Playboy again?
Crime and Punishment
you think this to be something which is ceremonial only, remember that God gave
these regulations to the Jews for a purpose. We should have a sense of
remaining clean, in God.
may not think so, but to be unclean is to be guilty.
It doesn’t matter whether or not you are aware of it.
prescribed punishment for one who is unclean (and will not cleanse
himself) is that he is to cut off from his people. Isn’t that a picture
of how Christ will cleanse the church at his second coming? Even now, we
are told to excommunicate those who disobey willfully.
is removed from a person on the completion of two things: washing and
sacrifice. This is clearly the picture of baptism and communion.
Passover and being unclean
the Old Testament, Moses was confronted once with a tough theological problem.
The Jews were commanded to celebrate the Passover. But some of them came to
Moses with the problem: they were unclean because they had just buried
someone. Should they celebrate the Passover or not?
passed the buck – to God. God’s answer was that they should celebrate indeed –
but on the same day the next month. This shows us, in shadow, that the Christ
(the Passover Lamb for all the world) is above the commands of the Law.
can we know if we are suffering from this disease of the Pharisees? It’s not
easy to tell; especially if we’re talented at keeping up appearances.
example in the Scripture here needs a bit of explaining. Corban means that
which has been dedicated to God. This had become quite a racket at the time
(and it’s been used nicely since). Often a man would decide upon a pious act
of giving to the synagogue some property or money he owned. As is common in
our time, the gift could be made effective at the death of the owner. To this
day churches and religious institutions will solicit such charity. The custom
had arisen, however, that once this decision was made it was irrevocable.
the problem coming: suppose I’m a young man with aged parents to support.
Suppose I think I have better things to do with the money. By dedicating
everything to God, I can use it my lifetime, not be burdened with my parents –
and still appear pious.
of us don’t have this problem today.
More general symptoms
are four things you should look for in yourself, if you wish to discover this.
These four are the internal methods.
by works. Some of us have an area in our lives which we desperately want
to keep from God. One way to do this is to pile up good works somewhere
else so that they will balance out. God does not look at it that way –
even though we do.
method is outward obedience. Go to church on Sunday, give money, sing in
the choir – and never let anyone know what’s going on inside your head.
third version – worse than the previous – is the glory hog. Outward
obedience hopes to go unnoticed; the glory hog wants praise for his
the truth. If you will not go to God in prayer; if you will not read the
Scripture and ponder its truth, this hypocrisy cannot be far away.
Examine the results
It’s an old
categorization but still useful.
- Sins of
the flesh – the
sins of the body. These are lust, adultery and fornication, as listed
here. Not mentioned is gluttony.
- Sins of
the world –
things such as greed, envy, malice.
Christ give us this list? He wants us to examine our outward lives to see if
these are present. If so, it’s a certainty that your inward life is not right
with him. We see next: what we can do about it.
The Cure is found in Christ
Jesus got up and went away from there to the region of
Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it;
yet He could not escape notice. But after hearing of Him, a woman whose
little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet.
Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking
Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And He was saying to her,
"Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the
children's bread and throw it to the dogs." But she answered and *said to
Him, "Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children's
crumbs." And He said to her, "Because of this answer go; the demon has gone
out of your daughter." And going back to her home, she found the child lying
on the bed, the demon having left.
(Mark 7:24-30 NASB)
here is a model of one who truly seeks Christ. This incident takes place in a
different locale, but it appears to be a continuation of the previous thought.
At the very least, it follows logically. The Pharisees got it wrong; she got
- First, note
that she begs. She knows she has no standing before this man; her plea
is entirely that of one begging. The Christ is under no obligation to
her. Likewise, Christ is under no obligation to us, no matter what good
things we have done.
- Next, she
pleads not only for herself but more for her daughter. It is the
Christian’s duty to intercede for others.
- She comes
to him in faith. This is the essential for anyone who goes before the
throne of God.
she accepts the humbling that God gives her. It is in such humbling that
God’s great works are done.
questions to ask yourself:
- How is your
thinking? Is it in accord with Christ? Or do you harbor thoughts of
greed, malice, envy or lust?
- What are
you watching? What’s coming into your mind through your eyes, feeding
- What are
you doing? Is your life a testimony to God, or is it “Sundays only?”