From Mark 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality,envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Sin. It's what separates is from God. It's what destroys our lives. It was what we need deliverance from. This verse from Mark names our sin in all its most ugly forms: evil toughts. sexual immorality. theft. murder. adultery....and it goes on....and on....and on. From the beginning of time when Eve envied and coveted that fruit that she was told she could not have and yet she desired it anyway. She stole it and foolishly ate it and then blamed the snake for his role. Since the banishment from Eden we have allowed sin to take over our lives.
As Isaiah speaks, it seems like things had not changed much from the Garden of Eden because foolishness still reigns when we read at the beginning of the passage of Isaish:
“Ah, stubborn children,” declares the Lord,
“who carry out a plan, but not mine,
and who make an alliance,[a] but not of my Spirit,
that they may add sin to sin;
2 who set out to go down to Egypt,
without asking for my direction,
to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh
and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!
Just as Eve and Adam carried out a plan that was so different from God's so have we. We are the "stubborn children" who "add sin to sin" and who do not take direction and we look for ways to solve problems ourselves and take comfort in things other than God. There truly is nothing different since the fall of mankind. Sin separates us from God. Repentance and submission sets us free.
I like how the Message compares the sin in our lives to pollution:
14-15 Jesus called the crowd together again and said, “Listen now, all of you—take this to heart. It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life; it’s what you vomit—that’s the real pollution.”
17 When he was back home after being with the crowd, his disciples said, “We don’t get it. Put it in plain language.”
18-19 Jesus said, “Are you being willfully stupid? Don’t you see that what you swallow can’t contaminate you? It doesn’t enter your heart but your stomach, works its way through the intestines, and is finally flushed.” (That took care of dietary quibbling; Jesus was saying that all foods are fit to eat.)
20-23 He went on: “It’s what comes out of a person that pollutes: obscenities, lusts, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, depravity, deceptive dealings, carousing, mean looks, slander, arrogance, foolishness—all these are vomit from the heart. There is the source of your pollution.”
The pollution of sin threatens to take over our lives. Sin is the root of evil and in today's society you don't have to look very far to see just how evil mankind can be.
John MacArthur says: (ephamsis in bold is mine)
I suppose if you lived fifty years ago, to a hundred years ago, you might not understand how really defiled the world is, how really defiled the human race is. You might be limited to the people in your little world and you would only experience extraordinary evil in your community when extraordinary evil happened, or in your circle of friends, or within the framework of your knowledge. But living in the world we live in today, it’s really had to hide how wretched man is. There are not a lot of defenders anymore of the goodness of man. We all, because of mass media and because of ubiquitous cameras everywhere, every human hand on the planet, I think, has a camera in it in the form of a cell phone. And we have cameras watching us everywhere we go in every building along the streets and at the intersections and just about everywhere else...we are then fully informed on the evil of mankind. We know the world is full of defilement. We know it is full of corruption. We know that evil runs deep and it runs wide. We understand that. It is inescapable.
However, MacArthur is quick to point out that society tries to excuse evil by saying it is dependent on outside influences. This we know is the opposite view of scripture.
The Bible says our problem is not outside of us, our problem is inside of us. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” That’s the collective heart. Men are wicked. “There’s none righteous, no not one.” We are capable without any outside influences, according to James 1:14, of conceiving lust in our hearts, turning it into sinful attitudes that become sinful acts...deadly sinful acts. Sin works its way from the inside out.
That is a definitive Christian view of man. That is a biblical anthropology that what defiles is on the inside, not the outside. Society doesn’t want to admit that., You hear people being interviewed all the time in our society who say, “Well, the reason I did this, the reason I have this problem, the reason I have this anti-social or criminal behavior, or bizarre behavior is because I was misunderstood as a child.. I was molested as a child. I was denied privileges as a child. I was unloved as a child. I was bullied...that’s the latest one.”
All of these kinds of external things have created this kind of behavior because I’ve lived in this toxic kind of environment. That is not what the Bible teaches. The problem is not outside of you, the problem is inside of you.
Therefore, the only way to "fix" sin in our lives is to fix it from the inside too. No amount of washing or cleaning will ever fix the sin in our lives. MacArthur concludes:
You know what regeneration means? It means that something dies and something new is born. It’s the washing of a total transformation, a new heart, a new mind, a new soul. And by renewing of the Holy Spirit we get washed, we get a new heart and the Holy Spirit takes over residence in us. That’s the transformation. It doesn’t matter what the outside is. It doesn’t matter what world you live in.
People say, “Oh boy, it’s going to be pretty hard to live in this world.” It probably was pretty hard for Paul to live in the world he lived in, don’t you think? Always been pretty hard to live in an ungodly world because no matter what’s going on in the outside, it’s never the outside that’s the issue. No matter what culture you live in, it’s always full of people who are defiled on the inside. And if you get close to the people who are defiled on the inside and how can you avoid that? You’re liable to be polluted by them. That’s why the Bible says evil company corrupts good morals. You’re colliding with these corrupt people. You know, you’re...I know you’re concerned about the future. You say, “What about my kids and the way the world is going? It’s going to get worse and worse and worse.” And it is, and the worse and worse that it’s going to get may be just a recycling of the kind of world that used to be.
But what is the answer? The answer is that your kids, as well as you, are not to fear the pollution that’s outside of you, you’re to fear the pollution that is inside of you. And if you have a new heart and if you’ve been washed, and if you’ve been given the Holy Spirit, then all is well between you and God. And that’s an eternal transaction, is it not? That’s an eternal miracle. That’s a new beginning that has no end. This is what the gospel offers when you put your faith in Christ. This is why the Lord said, “I have to fully reject your religion because it’s a religion that makes a wrong diagnosis and therefore it can’t offer the correct cure. If you’re good and all you need to do is control your environment, then you’ve missed it all together because you are bad on the inside. You don’t need a different environment, you don’t need to create a different environment. The Jews thought, “Well just like in Israel, keep the Gentiles out, get rid of the Gentiles.” That’s why they hated the Romans so much. “We’ll just keep all the bad people out, we’ll keep all the polluting influences out. We’ll have enough ritual ceremonies to keep ourselves clean.
The fact of the matter was their pollution was all on the inside. They missed it completely. You need a new heart. You need to be washed on the inside, and that’s what the Spirit of God does when you put your faith in Jesus Christ. That’s the gospel. And you make no contribution to that other than under the prompting of the Holy Spirit to repent of your sin and embrace Christ.
May we seek to be transformed on the inside so that our outside reflects our relationship with Christ.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Isaiah 32-33; Mark 8
Great way to look at it. It makes it easier not to worry about what the world will be like for our children and grand children and great grand children... External issues are always going to be there, it's how we deal with internal issues (accepting Christ's forgiveness and being washed clean) that matter.
It is amazing that even when His people are faithless, God remains faithful.
I also went back and reread the post about our Mark passage and the woman who wanted her daughter healed because I always forget the reason behind Jesus' seemingly harsh words.
In short - He's showing that His ministry was expanding to include the Gentiles, He was using her as an example of great faith and persistence.
Thanks for the post and comments. As dirty as we are, it is amazing that we have the opportunity to be white as snow because of what Jesus did for us!
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