Mark 6 -- 7
For many generations, the Law had been explained by the Scribes and the Pharisees, who were the two largest religious groups of their day. They proclaimed their belief in all Scripture as the inspired Word of God; but they gave more attention to the tradition of the elders (Mark 7:3; Matthew 15:2) than to the Scriptures. They believed that the disciples were ceremonially defiled because they did not participate in the ceremonial washing of hands before eating -- the tradition of the elders (Mark 7:5). It must have come as quite a surprise to these self-righteous leaders to hear Jesus say: Isaiah prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. In vain (empty show) do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. . . . Laying aside the Commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men. . . . Making the Word of God of no effect through your tradition (7:6-8,13; see Isaiah 29:13; Ezekiel 33:31). Our Lord prescribed a far higher standard for life than mere outward observances.
Later, He said to His disciples: Whatsoever thing from outside enters into a man, it cannot defile him. . . . (but) that which comes out of a man, that defiles the man. For . . . out of the heart . . . proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man (Mark 7:18-23).
We deceive ourselves if we believe there is no harm in sinful thoughts so long as they are never verbalized or physically carried out. The Holy Spirit led the Apostle Paul to write: The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the Law of God (Romans 8:7). But, as a child of God, we are not to be conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (12:2).
Christians have a responsibility, and the ability through the Holy Spirit, to bring everything into harmony with His will, to be overcomers for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (II Corinthians 10:4-5). As we yield to His will, as revealed in His Word, our lives become a practical, daily expression of the indwelling Holy Spirit. A true commitment to the Word of God will produce inward changes in our hearts that will also affect all that we say and do. The true Christian has a genuine desire to reject evil thoughts, lustful temptations, and emotional discontent. He has a desire to please the Lord and not to grieve the (indwelling) Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). The true Christian is content with nothing less than inward godliness: This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).
For Mark 7:6-7: See Isa. 29:13. Mark 7:10: See Ex. 20:12; 21:17; Lev. 20:9; Deut. 5:16.
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