Internal Affairs – “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’” Mark 7:20
Jesus confronts the Pharisees with a startling truth: The problem of human corruption can’t be cleaned up from the outside. It is an inward problem. It is entirely possible for the Pharisees, and us, to discipline ourselves in our prayer habits, eating and drinking patterns, sexual behavior, social graces, and generous giving to the extent that we come across as righteous in the eyes of God and men – all the while struggling with monsters of corruption in our thought life. This is the misunderstanding of the Pharisees’ religion and of any religion that takes sin seriously. They all attempt to reform the visible result of sin without treating the internal condition. Jesus is the only remedy that cleans a person from the inside out, if we will let Him.
The problem many of us have faced (or continue to face) is that we can restrain our outward behavior while retaining all of the evil thoughts within us. What we’ve changed is our appearances, not our hearts. This is the condition of the Pharisee, and it’s not Jesus’ solution for sin. If the problem of sin is an inward problem, it must be treated with an inward solution. Jesus’ audience in Mark 7 had outwards solutions to the problem. Yet their 8unclean thoughts remained. What is the inward solution? The habitation of Christ Himself in our hearts by faith, and our constant, conscious reliance on Him (and Cooperation with Him) to change us from within.
If this is your struggle – and you are not alone, if it is – resist the way of the flesh. Do not be content with covering the outward manifestation of an unclean heart. Invite Jesus to do an inward work, conforming your heart into His pure image – not just once, but constantly. Believe that He will, and see what happens.