“Squeaky Clean, Inside and Outside” (Mark 7:14-23)

What image comes to your mind when you think of someone or something that’s “Squeaky Clean?” For me it is the image of a thoroughly cleaned baby who has just come out of a bathtub of warm, soapy water. Then after being gently dried with a big, fluffy towel, lots of powder is applied so that a large, fragrant cloud “poofs” all around the squeaky clean child.

The Pharisees and teachers of the Law, in today’s Gospel reading, desired to appear “Squeaky clean” before God because of their outward actions and appearances. Earlier in Mark 7, the same teachers criticized Jesus and His disciples for not keeping “all the traditions of the elders” and Jesus, quoting Isaiah, said, “These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” (Mark 7: 6-7, from Isaiah 29:13)

In explaining further, Jesus told the parable, “Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.’” (Mark 7: 15)

Jesus later, in the house, told to His disciples that the real “heart of the matter” is a “heart issue!” In other words He said, “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All of these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.”‘ (Mark 7: 20-23)

God’s Word helps us to “define” what is pleasing and what is displeasing to Him. He graciously gives us His Word so that by it we may gain wisdom and understanding. (Deuteronomy 4:6) And He warns His followers – including you and me- not to “add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.” (Deuteronomy 4: 2)

The thirteen “heart issues” which Jesus says make us unclean” divide into three categories – those unclean thoughts, unclean words and unclean actions which defile us. (Evil thoughts include greed, malice or hatred, deceit, envy and arrogance; ungodly and slanderous words include cursing, falsely swearing and using profanity; and Jesus says that the type of actions which defile us “from within” include sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, lewdness and folly- “stupidity and silliness.”)

Prompted by the Holy Spirit, if we would each search our own thoughts, words and actions, it becomes evident that we each need to humbly bow before our Creator in repentance, asking His forgiveness. In Christ Jesus, we fully and freely receive His mercy, forgiveness and grace because Jesus took upon Himself all our sin, guilt and shame. For these He was punished, crucified and died, in order that through His victory over sin, death and the power of the devil, we would receive forgiveness and eternal life!

What we could NEVER do for ourselves- making ourselves acceptable to God by our own actions and observance of man-made traditions- Jesus has fully accomplished for us and now, thanks be to God, we are “Squeaky Clean – Inside and Out!”

See you in church!

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Snow

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