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December 5, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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This weekend, we continued our study through the Gospel of Mark as Pastor Doug Sauder shared from Mark 7:1–37. In this message, we examined Jesus’ conversation with the Pharisees and the disciples about what makes us unclean and discovered how we can be made clean in Him!
In this week’s group study, Calvary Young Adult Director Drew Eales and Calvary Women Director Annie Harley invite us into deeper conversation on Mark 7:1–37.
If you missed the message or want a refresher, click here to watch it in its entirety.
Below, you’ll find some key questions to reflect on and consider in your group, with your family, or in your circle of friends, some action points fo the week, and a look ahead.
Ice Breaker: What is a routine or ritual—something you do regularly—that you have in your life? Why do you do it?
Getting the Conversation Going: TheJewish religious leaders came from Jerusalem to observe the ministry of Jesus, and they were taken aback when they saw the disciples didn’t wash their hands before they ate—something that was merely a ceremonial tradition. You see, without going into elaborate detail, the Pharisees had positioned themselves as “spiritual quality control” over the people of Israel. Their mission was to detect and deal with any human behavior that deviated from their obstacle course of religious routines. They were able to exert their authority like this because they were trusted to faithfully interpret God’s Word in such matters. But they had abandoned that responsibility for the sake of their traditions. And Jesus called them out for this and went on to share something truly life-changing . . .
Discussion Question 1: What is the difference between religious practices and spiritual disciplines? How does engaging in spiritual disciplines help change your heart?
What Does It Mean to Be Clean?: Here, Jesus explains to His disciples why nothing we put into our physical bodies can make us spiritually unclean. No food we consume has the power to defile our soul because “it doesn’t go into their heart.” Now, when Jesus says “heart,” He isn’t talking about the physical heart, but our spirit.
Essentially, the things we consume don’t cause us to become spiritually unclean. Many in the world would say, “people are mostly good.” The world would have you believe it’s the external that’s the real problem—the things we consume, the things we watch, the things we are exposed to. And while, yes, these things impact us and how we live and view the world, they are not at the root of it all. Was it at the root? It’s the sinful nature within us. What’s in our hearts shows our spiritual uncleanness. You see, we’re not sinners because we sin, we sin because we’re sinners. Within our sinful nature exists “sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.” Sometimes, external things reveal the sinfulness within us. Other times, they become the object of our sinful desires, but they are never the cause of our sin.
It’s the sinful nature in us that produces the desire to consume what is bad for us (Romans 7:8, 11). It’s the sinful nature in us that causes us to fall into such things as drugs, alcohol, or a porn addiction. And here’s the thing: The law of God never claimed eating certain animals would make us unclean. Technically, it was saying that certain foods were unclean in the physical sense, so eating certain animals had the potential to make us sick, but the religious elitists made it a spiritual thing and enforced this upon the people.
But the truth is that nothing we eat, drink, put into our bodies, do, or say can make us spiritually unclean–our sinful nature is what makes us spiritually unclean. However, there is something that can make us clean: repenting of our sins, receiving Jesus into our hearts, surrendering our lives to follow Him, believing in Him, and trusting Him as our Savior and Lord. When we receive Him, He makes us clean by forgiving our sins and dwelling in us. And from that point on, nothing can ever make us spiritually unclean because He, the Lord, has cleansed us with His blood and Spirit.
Discussion Question 2: What makes a person unclean? Why has the truth of this concept been distorted?
Discussion Question 3: What steps can you take to see true change take place in your heart? How does heart change impact the way you live?
Read Mark 7:24–37
Persistent Faith: In the story of the Syrophoenician woman, we see (1) no one is outside the love of God; (2) committed faith knows the power of Jesus; (3) persevering faith moves the heart of Jesus; (4) patient faith withstands God’s silence; and (5) God’s silence isn’t an indication of indifference. She was truly a case for the cause of Christ: to bring all who believe into the His kingdom.
Discussion Question 4: How does God work through the faith of His people?
Discussion Question 5: What does it look like to live with persistent faith?
This Week: Examine your life and consider your habits. Do any of them point to a sin struggle happening within? If so, ask the Lord to help you work in that area so you can overcome that struggle.
Pray It Out: Share prayer requests in your group. Write down the requests of your group members, spend time praying over these requests, and keep praying individually over them throughout the week.
Read the Article
This weekend, we’ll continue our study through the Gospel of Mark as Pastor Doug Sauder shares from Mark 8:1–21. In this message, we’ll see Jesus perform another amazing miracle by feeding 4,000 and then go on to explain the dangers of hypocrisy and bad teaching.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.