WHAT CONTAMINATES US?
Lord, cleanse us from our spiritual impurities.
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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“Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow … Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps51:7,10).
Having dealt with the religious leaders, Jesus now turns to the crowd, urging them to “Listen … and understand” (14) a small parable (verse 17 clarifies that verse 15 is a parable). The disciples, like the crowd, do not understand its meaning (cf. 17, 18). This episode harkens back to Mark 4, where Jesus teaches many things in parables but neither the crowd nor the disciples understand. The disciples, however, seek an explanation from Jesus, and, although He rebukes them for not understanding, He explains (17–23) (cf., Mark 4:10, 13–20,34). Similarly, our lack of understanding should drive us to Jesus.
This parable teaches that moral contamination comes from within rather than without. The human heart is the source of evil intentions and contaminants. In their pursuit of purity, the Pharisees have gone astray, focusing on outward ritual, forgetting that moral purity is a matter of the heart. Moses had addressed people’s obstinacy and urged them, “Circumcise your hearts” (Deut 10:16), Later, when Israel was exiled to Babylon, Ezekiel promised the people that God would cleanse them and give them a new “heart”. (Ezek 36:25–27). Jesus alludes to this promise when he informs Nicodemus that people must be “born of water and the Spirit” to enter God’s kingdom ( John 3:3–5).
The Bible tells us that the first act of disobedience in the garden has affected the entire human race and that our resultant behavior has contaminated us (eg. Rom 1:18–32). The wretched human condition originates in the heart, giving rise to our need for cleansing and renewal. In much secular thought, this is an offensive teaching, but the Bible also reports the good news that Jesus can cleanse us from all contamination and that God specializes in heart transplants.
Read 1 John 1:5–10. Are you aware of what contaminates you? Come to Jesus, whether for the first or the umpteenth time, and let Him cleanse you.
Lord, we understand the importance of our heart in all this. Teach us to guard it.