Spring seems to have taken a break, but I think our thirst for summer has been officially revived. It is supposed to be a particularly mild summer, so be sure to take the moments when they come. Make the most of the glorious outdoors.
As we come out of the winter and take stalk, do some spring cleaning, consider how we are running our race – we ought to consider what might actually be in our hearts without our realizing it. The following list is from out text on Sunday which I did not have time to enumerate. So, take this list slowly. Talk about them with your spouse and children. Break up the fallow ground of your heart with God’s word. Pray for insight. Call what is inside you what Christ calls it. Repent. Rejoice. Repeat.
Filling up the edges
Mark 7:20–22 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.
The locus of a person’s thoughts, will, decisions, emotions and the knowledge of right and wrong. The sense of the word is your “self.”
It is the heart which makes a man what he is and governs all his actions Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
In the Bible it usually designates the whole personality. Both in the OT and NT it is the seat of wisdom (1 Kgs. 3:12), and of thought and reflection (e.g. Jer. 24:7, Lk. 2:19), the instrument of belief (Rom. 10:10) and of will, the principle of action (Ex. 35:21) which may be hardened so that it resists God (Deut. 15:7; Mk. 16:14).
It is the principle both of virtues and vices, of humility and pride, of good thoughts and of evil thoughts.
Hence in Scripture the heart is the center of the human person, in which the physical and the spiritual life are concentrated, and therefore in the NT the dwelling-place of Christ (Eph. 3:17) in which reigns the peace of God (Col. 3:15).
In this sense it is used in the language of Christian spirituality, which regards the human heart as the special organ of the love of God.
The heart is a big deal and what does Mark consistently bring into play? What has Jesus been dealing with?
Mark 3:4–5….But they were silent. And [Jesus] looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart…
Mark 6:52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
Mark 7:6–7 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
The source of true defilement in men is the human heart, and the tragedy of man’s original sin reaches its demonic fulfilment in man’s wanting to sin in his heart.
There is no heart in which this radical evil has failed to take root. We have to be honest about what is going on inside of us.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Sin is just something that “happens,” to us. We wants it. Yet we feel shame, pain and estrangement. We fear man and what they think. Pride, fear and shame ties us in nots or cause our hearts to cool.
The answer is found in Psalm 44:21…God…knows the secrets of the heart.
God knows what is in the heart of man.
We have to let God show us what is inside of us. And we have to accept the diagnoses and the cure, which is heart surgery. But, Heart surgery is a lot scarier then hand soap. Then gourmet kosher food. Than a religious to-do list.
A man is defined by what he holds in his heart. Eating or refraining from certain foods will not change this list one iota, nor will washing one’s hands. It is the heart that must be cleansed.
Your religion cannot be a matter of externals, but internals. Your internals.
At the head of the list is “evil thoughts.” The word “thoughts,” is itself amoral, which is why the word evil is added.
It carries the idea of discussion or debate, with an under-tone of suspicion or doubt. Either with one’s own mind or with another.
For example; Luke 9:46-48An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts…
Arguing with brothers about foolish things, quarrelling, ungracious suspicions, and doubt are all implied and summed up with this phrase, evil thoughts.
Fornicationis a broad term covering all acts of sexual immorality; it is wider than adultery.
The word “fornication” is used in the Scriptures to mean several different things. Its general meaning refers to every kind of illegal sexual intercourse, that is, any intercourse except that between a husband and wife.
But don’t be too hasty, patting yourself on the back.
Fornication is as common to modern men and women, Christian or otherwise, as having elbows.
Theft,murderand adultery. The three that stand in the mind of many as the, well I never sins, so I must be a pretty good person.
Matthew 5:21–22“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder… But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment….Matthew 5:27–28 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery. ’But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Washing cups, bowls and hands seems a lot easier, doesn’t it? A long list of externals certainly seems a lot easier than what Jesus is teaching here.
So, murder and adultery are two big, yeah but I never sins – always brought up in a self-justifying way. But you can be a serial killer and adulterer and never leave the confines of your heart and mind.
While the Hebrew word for “covet” can also be translated “to desire,” in the tenth commandment it means an ungoverned and selfish desire that threatens the basic rights of others.
Coveting is sinful because it focuses greedily on the property of a neighbor that is his share in God’s grace.
Coveting is a gateway sin. It is a lack of contentment and gratitude.
It leads to theft, lying, adultery and a host of other potential sins. Coveting starts in the heart and unless it is uprooted it will not remain there. It will manifest itself in a host of sins.
Wickednessappears to be a general term denoting acts of deliberate malice, translated variously as evil, Ill-will, spitefulness, trouble or harm.
Wickedness refers to evil in its active form, i.e.mischief (Nu. 16:26). As such, it denotes perversity of mind (Pr. 15:26; Rom. 1:29) by which the natural man surrenders himself to evil impulses (Ps. 10:1–11).
Wickedness has its seat in the heart and is inspired of Satan (1 Jn. 3:12), it is progressive and contagious in its manifestation.
The wicked man is utterly perverse, finding unholy delight in the infliction of injury (Pr. 21:10).
It is like leaven in a bread. It spreads and affects the reaction and condition of the whole loaf. Wicked men seek are mischief. They don’t just gossip, they who to gossip to in order to cause the most damage.
They manipulate, muddy the waters of clarity and stir up strife.
Malice characterizes the life of men under the wrath of God (Rom. 1:29). It is not only a moral deficiency but destroys fellowship.
For believers it belongs to the old life according to Tit. 3:3, so there is still need for exhortation to ‘clean it out.’
1 Corinthians 5:7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
That is what this whole section is about. Jesus has begun a new work in you. You are not yet perfect. There are things in your heart that need to come out.
Deceit implies the components of cunning and treachery.
Sensuality is Moral abandon. Indulgence in sensual pleasure unrestrained by convention or morality.
Envy is more than coveting but a grudging jealousy with which a man looks upon the possessions of another. It’s not merely wanting what another has but resenting that another has it.
Slander is to speak critically of another person with the intent to hurt them. To falsely accuse another.
Elsewhere, Jesus said, “I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak” (Matt. 12:36).
This should cause each person to be very careful what they say about others.
Pride The emphasis placed on pride, and its converse humility, is a distinctive feature of biblical religion, unparalleled in other religious or ethical systems. Rebellious pride, which refuses to depend on God and be subject to him, but attributes to self the honor due to him, figures as the very root and essence of sin.
Foolishness describes the dominant disposition of the man who is morally and spiritually insensitive; he does not know God and he does not wish to know him.
Foolishness is characterized by thoughts, behaviors, attitudes, or judgments that lack sense, prudence, and discretion. Foolish behavior may be immoral or dangerous and is often used for self-destructive tendencies. Foolishness stands in contrast to wisdom, prudence, and sound judgment.
Titus 3:3–7For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
He gives the spirit. He gives us new hearts and minds. He takes your envy, malice, fornication, lies, murders, deceits, etc. and replaces them. With what? How?
Galatians 5:22–24 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
To you and me. No, don’t turn away. Don’t hide in shame and guilt and doubt. What’s inside you? You don’t want to face it. You don’t know what to do with it. You don’t know where it comes from.
Don’t be so willing to self-justify and remain in self-deception. That is slavery and death.
Let Christ give you the heart surgery you so desperately need. You are muddled.
But Jesus knows what is inside of you. John 2:23–25[Jesus knows] ‘all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.
He knows what’s inside you, that no one else knows. That you hardly know yourself. He will tell you. He will tell you what to call it. He will take it from you willingly. Its why He came. Its why He reigns. He is here to heal you. To cleanse you from the inside, out.
This parable is still connected to the parable of the sowers. Jesus is giving you the seed of eternal life.
But remember Jeremiah 4:3 For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: “Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.
Come. Don’t linger. Don’t trust in the externals. Trust Him and He will give you new internals – a new heart and thus a new desire, mind, emotion and will and it will work from the inside out.
But you must remove the weeds, thorns and stones.
Come to His word. His spirit will teach you – Him. His law. His heart for you. He will give the new heart.
Godliness isn’t a list of action items. Godliness is not to be attained through a list of rituals. Godliness is not a matter of eating or washing.
What is godliness? 1 Timothy 3:16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.
Around the web
An important talk for men.
1 John 2:16-17
Increase my faith, O merciful Father,
That I may not swerve at any time form your heavenly word.
Give me an increase of hope and love, together with a careful keeping of all your commandments, that no hardness of heart, no hypocrisy, no lust of the eyes, nor any methods of the world, may draw me away from obedience to you. And, since we live now in these most perilous times, let your fatherly providence defend me against all violence and harm.
GAME DAY WITH TRINITY
Join some folks at the Trinity Church Office for board games from 10AM-4PM on Saturday, May 18. Open house format; Snacks provided, bring your own lunch. Bring a game to play, or try one out there. 14623 NE North Woodinville Way, Suite 201.
THE CHURCH AT PLANNED PARENTHOOD
Worship service (not a protest); Wednesday, May 29 from 5:30-6:15pm, at the Planned Parenthood in Everett. 509 – 32nd St., Everett 98201
FREE BOOKS IN THE MONTH OF JUNE
Free books available, coinciding with a new sermon series in June: The
Meaning of Marriage, Decluttering Your Marriage, Father Hunger, Militant Motherhood, and Raising Little Ones.
June 9, 5:30-8:30PM at the Northshore Senior Center in Bothell. More details to follow.