Religion that focuses on man made rules…is a crusher of true relationship with God. Seeking to appease God by means of following rules and behaving just so…While trying to conform to man made rules you end up being pushed away from the heart of God. What you are sold is that doing these things will bring you closer to God…The opposite happens AND THEN! You end up not even wanting the heart of God because YOU want the attention of men
There are overt and covert ways of getting caught up in rules, either way, that kind of focus takes you further and farther from the kind of relationship the God of Scripture wants. What all legalism seeks is to somehow be made ‘Clean’. But it is a con game you play on yourself. We have no way to make ourselves acceptable to God. Because we are the problem… the problem lives within us… The beginning of a relationship with Christ is understanding and admitting the deal with sin.
When we last saw Jesus and His disciples they’re in the middle of a healing spree…There seems to be a connection between the faith that is being displayed and the scope of the healing that was taking place:
And wherever He entered villages, towns, or rural areas, they would place the sick in the marketplaces and implore Him that they might touch just the fringe of His cloak. And as many as touched Him were made well. ~ Mark 6:56
It must have caused quite a commotion in that region…and word got back to Jerusalem, to the religious leaders…so they sent some ‘investigators’ / ‘accusers’
Mark 7:1-23 [NASB]
1 The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem, 2 and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; 4 and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.)
- This is the 2nd of 5 times in Mark the pharisees come to ‘accuse’ Jesus of things
- The religion of: The Temple / The Sanhedrin / The Pharisees / The Sadducees
- They were all obsessed with trying to make & keep themselves ‘Clean’
- If they were around enough people (some could be ‘unclean’) they thought they could ‘Catch’ something… that other’s uncleanliness could rub off on them
- It’s an old idea that a person can make themselves acceptable to God
- The Law of Moses was to show God’s chosen people they could never make themselves ‘Clean’ enough, or acceptable to a perfect Holy God
5 The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?” 6 And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. 7 But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ 8 Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” [Isaiah 29:13]
- Their goal is to get Jesus to disrespect tradition / religious leaders
- They’re so caught up in their rules they can’t see God standing in front of them!
- Jesus responds to their question by quoting Scripture: As it is written…
Then the Lord said: ‘Because these people approach me with empty words, and the honor they bestow on me is mere lip-service; while in fact they have distanced their hearts from me, and their ‘fear of me’ is just a law of human origin’ ~ Isaiah 29:13 CJB
- Speaking through Isaiah, the Holy Spirit is describing those opposed to God
- God is consistent throughout His Word on if you follow men you neglect ME
9 He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘The one who speaks evil of father or mother, is to be put to death’; WOW!!! 11 but you say, ‘If a person says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is ‘Corban’ (that is to say, given to God),’ 12 you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; 13 thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”
- Jesus clarifies why Isiah was rebuking their type… [legalists / false religion]
- Because they [and other legalists] put their tradition over God’s commands
- They act and pressure others to act in ways that go against God’s Word
- Their system ‘Invalidates’ God’s Word / Scripture [‘As it is Written’]
- This is one example our Lord cites, they do many things such as that
- He tells the pharisees that ‘you and your type are hypocrites, far from God’
14 After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside the person which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the person are what defile the person.16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”
- Jesus wants everyone to listen and understand this important point
- At our core, what is wrong with each & every one of us is not outside influence
- Our problem is our fallen state of inborn sin…
- We are all made in God’s image but it is a fallen, sin perverted image…
- All of humankind is at some level painfully aware of this state
- So our God given inclination is to be good enough for God
- The pharisees & all legalists think if they do the right things they will be ‘clean’
- They have come to believe (self convinced) that inside they are acceptable
17 When He had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. 18 And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the person from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.)
- This one of Jesus’ ‘Discipleship Master Class’ debrief sessions
- We might not think of this a s a parable, but scripture call it one
- The definition of ‘Parable’
A short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson. A statement or comment that conveys a meaning indirectly by the use of comparison, analogy, or the like.
- He points out their shortcoming and then teaches them the truth
- Point #1: What people consume is not what gets between them and God
- Peter is going to get a very direct lesson in this in Acts 10
20 And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the person, that is what defiles the person. 21 For from within, out of the hearts of people, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23 All these evil things proceed from within and defile the person.”
- Point #2: The problem is within us. Our hearts are fallen…sin riddled
- The idea that we should trust our hearts is from the pit of hell, a demonic ploy!
- Our heart is understood as the essence of our being, what we are at our core
- All of these things are hardwired into our flesh, in-bedded in our being
WE HAVE A MAJOR PROBLEM!!!
We are full of evil, it has separated us from our perfect & holy Creator. But God was not content to let that keep us apart. He came into our lives as one of us to full reveal himself. Christ’s Birth / Christ’s Life / Christ’s Death / Christ’s Resurrection. The surrender of our lives by faith and the Indwelling of The Holy Spirit. God does it all and it is important for us to fully acknowledge that (conviction)
If there is any part of us that thinks ‘I did something to get his deal’…THAT Is the infection that leads to the disease of Legalism! So how do we do it right, ie GOD’S WAY?
God wants personal contact, not ritual & ceremony
Jesus wants to sit at the table with you, not witness you acts of appeasement
The Holy Spirit wants YOU to work in concert with Him, not watch your spiritual show
But it is far easier and much more comfortable to follow rules than to have an intimate, honest relationship with the perfect & holy ‘Self Existent God’.
Beware the spirit of judgement, if you harbor it, you make a place for legalism
For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. ~ Hosea 6:6
Let’s talk application! Application of this teaching of Jesus is SO important.
Application of Scripture: Asking God to build your belief in a principle by Spirit & Truth so you can make repeated choices, take concrete steps and establish lifestyle habits. Choices / Steps / Habits
Do you believe in any way that you had something to do with being chosen by God to live with Him eternally?
If so, DESTROY those beliefs and learn of God’s grace through study of Scripture.
How judgmental are you of fellow followers of Christ?
DESTROY those habits and seek God’s heart of forgiveness for yourself and others.
Have you by faith fully surrendered your life to Jesus Christ?
If not DESTROY anything that is keeping you from doing that TODAY!