Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part XXV: Serving God By Valuing The Heart's Condition Above External Actions
(Mark 7:14-23)
  1. Introduction
    1. On the very debatable and potentially divisive issues of religion today, issues like what church polity we are to have, what is God concerned that we do or decide as the bottom line?
    2. Jesus clarified for us the way to go about making good decisions on matters of form and tradition as there is a priority of values to follow in such cases.
  2. Serving God By Valuing The Heart's Condition Above External Actions, Mark 7:14-23.
    1. The Pharisees had come to Jesus with the criticism that He and His disciples violated the ceremonial regulations passed down by the elders, Mark 7:1-5:
      1. Though it was never a violation of the Word of God to do so, the Pharisees observed strictly the regulations passed down by the elders of washing one's hands before partaking of a meal, Mk. 7:1-2,5.
      2. This rule followed the traditions of all sorts of washings the Pharisees observed, washings of various cups, pots, brazen vessels and of tables, Mark 7:4.
    2. Now, not all traditions are automatically evil traditions. Keep in mind that Jesus as a Jew observed Hanukkah, or the Feast of the Dedication by attending this observance in Jerusalem, Jn. 10:22.
    3. Well, after dealing with the problem the Jews had of putting tradition above Scripture in Mark 7:1-13, Jesus addressed the issue of the importance of washings traditions itself as follows in Mark 7:14-23:
      1. Jesus called the people unto Himself to listen carefully to what He had to say as it dealt with an important issue touched upon by the Pharisees criticism on Jesus regarding washings, Mk. 7:14.
      2. He claimed that not foods that enter a man can defile him, but that which proceeds out does, Mk. 7:15.
      3. Later, Jesus explained the parable as follows, Mk. 7:17-18a:
        1. What enters a person cannot defile him, for what enters man is tangible only and is morally neutral as food, and it passes out into the draught after it is digested and does man no harm, Mk. 7:18b-19.
        2. However, the intangible realities of the spiritual realm that are violations of God's righteousness coming out of a human being defile him before God, Mark 7:20.
        3. These intangible problems producing tangible violations of Scripture are evil thoughts, immorality, theft, murder, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly, 7:21-23.
Lesson: If we desire to please God in making proper decisions on difficult matters involving external practices, etc., we will put a priority on how we deal with moral matters proceeding from within the heart that eventually show up in the tangible plane rather than vice-versa.

Application: When it comes to heeding a matter of practice, we should adopt the practice only if it can be used as an effective tool to reflect an inner commitment of moral uprightness to God. However, once the external violates inner uprightness, it must be dropped or changed.

Illustration: At one point, God had Moses make a bronze serpent to be held up that all Israel might look unto it in faith to be healed, cf. Num. 21:4-9. However, centuries later, Israel worshipped the bronze serpent, so Hezekiah properly h ad it destroyed, calling it Nehushtan, "a mere piece of bronze," Ryrie Study Bible, KJV, ftn. Originally, looking upon the article Moses had made was an act of faith in Moses' God where looking upon it in Hezekiah's day was an act o f faith in the bronze serpent itself, for the attitude was all the difference in the same action!

Illustration: G. Campbell Morgan, commentator in Mark, p. 162, speaking on the debatable issue of church polity, said: " . . . I could hold a brief for every known form of Church polity on the basis of the New Testament . . . But I must never allow myself to be mastered by any polity when it interferes with my relation to life in the Lord Jesus Christ."