Holy Spirit give me an attentive heart and the insight I need as I ponder these words.
Read Mark 7:14–23
14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”  [a]
17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18 “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)
20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”
a Mark 7:16 Some manuscripts include here the words of 4:23.
New International Version (NIV)
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ReflectDo you see yourself the way others see you? Do you struggle to see yourself the way God sees you?
Jesus warns against a religion that is merely external, based upon rituals and regulations. The faith He proclaims is more internal, a matter of the heart, and responding in faith and obedience to His word.
Just as ceremonial washing cannot cleanse us from sin, neither can the observance of strict dietary laws prevent sin from taking hold in our lives. Sin has its seat of power within us, in our fallen nature. None of us – including the most religious – is free from the possibility of sin, even of the most grievous kind. Given the right circumstances, anyone could sin in the ways listed here (21, 22).
True religion requires us to know ourselves well, and to depend on God’s grace for the power to overcome our sinful tendencies. We must grow in self-awareness, recognizing the deceitfulness of our own heart, and understanding our motivations and desires. Such self- knowledge is not easily found for we are all prone to self-deceit and the denial that comes from pride. Sometimes such insight comes only through failure; often it requires feedback from honest friends.
The disciples were dull of hearing (18). Part of their future training will be to grow in self-awareness.
Read Psalm 139:23-24. How can you increase your self-awareness? Who might help you in this task?
Jesus, help me to be aware of the leading of Your Spirit today. May I seek out Your presence even in the mundane of my day.