17 Then he left the crowd and entered the house. His disciples asked him about this teaching. 18 “Don’t you understand?” Jesus asked. “Don’t you see? Nothing that enters a person from the outside can make them ‘unclean.’ 19 It doesn’t go into their heart. It goes into their stomach. Then it goes out of the body.” In saying this, Jesus was calling all foods “clean.” 20 He went on to say, “What comes out of a person is what makes them ‘unclean.’ 21 Evil thoughts come from the inside, from a person’s heart. So do sexual sins, stealing and murder. 22 Adultery, greed, hate and cheating come from a person’s heart too. So do desires that are not pure, and wanting what belongs to others. And so do telling lies about others and being proud and being foolish. 23 All these evil things come from inside a person and make them ‘unclean.’ ”
I love how these verses speak about the state of our hearts and how that relates to living a life of holiness. Jesus says that it’s not what goes in to us that defiles us, but what comes out. What comes out is determined by the state of our hearts, and so the state of our heart should be a priority for each of us.
In seeking to live a life of holiness, I need to realise that it’s not just external actions that need to be addressed – it is just as much the internal condition of my heart. Changing behaviours without changing what’s within will result in dried up religion. I need to pay attention to my inner life – I need to guard my heart as Proverbs 4:23 encourages – and ultimately I need to submit to Jesus each day so that I am kept in a place of humility and surrender to Him. From this place, goodness can flow from my heart, and I can live a life that honours God.
Lord, thank You that You know me better than I know myself. I pray the prayer of David in Psalm 139 – search me and know my anxious thoughts; reveal in me anything that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Written by Matt Samperi