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September 19, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“It's not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart."—Mark 7:15 (NLT)
I admit . . . I love fast food! McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Popeye’s, Jersey Mike’s, and even Burger King all tastes good! While I don’t eat it all the time, I do enjoy a nice, juicy Dave’s triple at Wendy’s, a piping hot Mexican pizza from Taco Bell, or a box of spicy tenders and Cajun fries from Popeye’s. Usually when people discover my love of fast food, they tend to react with bewilderment. “You actually eat that? It’s so gross!” They get all judgmental and, yes, even slightly Pharisaical about it. But I just keep on smiling as I eat my Egg McMuffin.
In Mark 7, the Pharisees confront Jesus because “some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands” (Mark 7:2 NRSV). And they rebuked Jesus for this. You see, the Pharisees were classic legalists. They made everything about a relationship with God performance and rules based—John 18:28 is one example. They clung to their written traditions and were merciless in their judgments towards those who didn’t live up their standards. That’s why Jesus said, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites . . . ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’ You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition” (Mark 7:6–8 NRSV).
After exposing their hypocrisy, Jesus turns to the crowd and declares it’s not what goes into our body that defiles us; defilement happens in the heart, and what comes out of us is evidence of that. Now, obviously, McDonald’s and Arby’s may not be the healthiest option for me to eat, but what I should really be worried about is what comes out of my mouth, what actions I take, and what my mind lingers on, because those things show the condition of my heart and how defiled it is.
And just like how I work out every day to counteract the effects the fast food has on my body, I need to ensure I “work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear” (Philippians 2:12 NLT). This means consistently spending time in deep prayer, Bible study, reflection, and worship, and then finding spotters, which is my weightlifting parallel to connecting with other believers, having accountability, discipleship, and serving one another and the people around us. This is how we can clean out the defilement in our heart and build up our spiritual maturity and alignment with the Spirit!
DIG: Read Mark 7 and Philippians 2.
DISCOVER: What do you feel creates defilement in your heart? What are you doing to clear out those defiled parts of your heart?
DISPLAY: Evaluate your life today, the same way someone who wants to lose weight evaluates their eating, exercising, and sleeping habits. Take an honest look at your habits, what—and who—you surround yourself with, what your heart is taking in and putting out, and prayerfully create a “workout” plan to clear out the defiled parts of your heart and align to the Spirit’s voice and work in your life.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of 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.