And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Understanding And Applying the Text
To place this passage in context we need to remember what went before it. Jesus chastised the Pharisees for demanding adherence to tradition. The traditions violated God’s law.
Now, Christ turns to the people. He explains why the traditions were contrary to God’s law. But they could not understand. They had preconceived ideas about how to obey God’s Law. Jesus violated their assumptions. As a result, they could not understand what He taught.
God’s kingdom does not exist in meat and drink. This is what we read in Romans 14:17. This is what Christ taught Peter in Acts 10:9-15. Outward things are by nature pure. They do not make us sinful. We corrupt them from the spring of wickedness within us.
Christ offended the Scribes and Pharisees. He made no attempt not to offend them. Men, today, still find the doctrines of grace offensive. We need to learn from Christ’s example. We are to stand and proclaim the Gospel of Christ. Many will find it offensive. Many will claim, when we offend, we are not Christ-like. But Christ offended those who believed and taught false doctrine.
Jesus taught the doctrine of total depravity. That doctrine offends many. When we teach that doctrine we need to ensure we teach it right. Total depravity does not teach we are as depraved as possible. It teaches sin has reached every part of us. Sin has corrupted every part of us. Depravity leaves nothing in us unaffected. Nothing is more verifiable than total depravity.
Yet, you can ask one hundred people on the street if man is basically good or basically evil. Ninety-nine out of that hundred will say man is basically good. The sad part is, if you ask the question inside a church you will get the same results. Nothing is more clear in scripture. Scripture teaches man’s total depravity. But we want to believe down deep, at the core, we are good.
Jesus said nothing that enters us from the outside defiles us. Mark then tells us by saying this Jesus declared all foods clean. The specific issue Jesus addressed still exists today in some Christian circles. They violate not only the principle but the direct words of Christ.
There is a Messianic movement that is trying to get back to the Jewish roots of Christianity. They still try to follow the dietary laws. Christ said right here, all food is clean.
Jesus goes to the essence of the matter. Uncleanness is of the heart. Ceremonial uncleanness is only a symbol.
But the good news is Christ makes us new. We are remade, remolded into Christ’s image. He changes our heart. Our righteousness comes from Him.