Matthew 15:16-20 (NASB)
Jesus said, "Are you still lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated?
But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.
These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man."
Just before this passage, scribes and Pharisees had come to Jesus and asked him his disciples broke the tradition of the elders, by not washing their hands before eating.
Jesus replied by asking them in turn why they broke the commandment of God (to honor their parents), rather, honoring their own tradition: not supporting their parents financially but instead telling their parents “I gave the money to God” as if that was more noble or holy.
Jesus goes on to explain in the passage above that it is not the outside things of this world that defile us – make us sinful – but the sin that already lives within out hearts.
Do you understand that there is nothing in this world, no temptation that can FORCE you to sin? It can entice you, sure. But sin lives WITHIN you already. Satan cannot dangle something in front of you that you are unable to resist. When you sin, you are choosing to do it.
Not only is Jesus speaking to the fact that sin resides within us and we have control over it – but he is also touching on the idea that we are not to hold our traditions, our “works” up higher than what is truly in our hearts, and consider ourselves good.
If our hearts contain hate or unforgiveness or spite or jealousy or arrogance – no matter how much we volunteer at church, no matter how much we put into the offering plate, no matter how many bible verses we read every day – the truth is that we are still defiled because our heart is defiled.
I have been around a lot of people who don’t listen to certain types of music – for example they will listen to “Christian jazz” but not “secular jazz” because they “don’t know what was in the hearts of the secular jazz artists” – as if some sin could jump through the CD and take over the body of the person listening!
My repsonse was – “you don’t know what was in the heart of the Christian artist EITHER!”
Perhaps you aren’t using your works to judge whether or not you are good – but what if you are superstitious and think that touching objects or being in the presence of non-Christians will somehow make you unclean or subject to spiritual attack. Do you not know that it is what is already WITHIN you that is most dangerous to you?
Consider you heart. Is it unclean? Is your own sin your most dangerous enemy?