The Heart of Man
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 man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. 16 [If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”]
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 man 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.) 20 And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, 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 man.”
Leviticus 11 is where you will find the requirements of which animals can be consumed as food and which cannot. Some of the animals that were (are) considered unclean because of these criteria I think many of us would still be averse to eating. (I, for one, would prefer not to eat monkey, dog, cat, bat, rat, jungle predator, or carrion bird meat.) However, there are a number of things on the "unclean" list that I very much enjoy! Pork chops, pork ribs, some shellfish, and calamari, for examples.
Here Jesus clearly states that anything you eat cannot defile your soul. God is not concerned with what goes into your stomach. Your body uses what it can and eliminates the rest. We are defiled by the condition of our hearts and our attitudes. Verses 21 and 22 give us a pretty comprehensive list of the things that defile us, and dietary issues don't appear anywhere.
However, I will point out that the "diet" our brains consume is a great big contributing factor to our attitudes and our hearts. Just as we know that in order for our bodies to be healthy we need to eat a variety of healthy foods, if we want our hearts to be healthy, we need a "healthy diet" for that as well. Proverbs 4:23 says "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Mark 7:24-30.