I had the pleasure of spending this past weekend in Pittsburgh. It’s a city I love and thankfully a place I’ve found a church I like to visit. This past Sunday at Bellefield Presbyterian Church, Rev. Josh Brown preached a fantastic sermon out of Mark 7.
I highly recommend listening to the sermon, Misdiagnosis and Malpractice, here at Bellefield’s website, but below I have shared the text from Mark as well as some of the major points.
Mark 7:1-23 NASB: The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem, 2 and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; 4 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[c]washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) 5 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?” 6 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.
7 ‘But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’
8 Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”
9 He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, is to be put to death’; 11 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),’ 12 you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother;13 thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”
The Heart of Man
14 After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: 15 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. 16 [If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”]
17 When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. 18 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,19 because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) 20 And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness,as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23 All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”
Brown pointed out that the Pharisees recognized there was a problem between them and God, but failed to recognized its depth. They thought they could wash the dirt away themselves. But the hard truth (that many are repulsed by) is that the problem between us and God goes as deep as possible because it comes from our very hearts/wills (vs. 20-23). We’re completely bent and inclined toward sin. “The corruption is us,” as Brown put it.
And the truth is that we cannot fix it.
That sounds like terrible news, until we hear the gospel and comprehend that Jesus can fix it. As Ezekiel writes, he can remove our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh. (Ezek. 36:25-27). That isn’t just good news, it’s the best news.