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Mark 7:1-23

Author: Kent Berghuis

Diagnosing Heart Disease
Mark 7:1-23

Main idea:  The Lord wants us to move beyond surface religion to purity of heart.

I.  The surface issue: a petty ritual has become the symbol of religious loyalty (1-8).

	A.  The Pharisees question the disciples' failure to follow their tradition of washing hands (1-5).
		--The delegation has come from Jerusalem to check Jesus out (1).
		--Jesus' disciples did not follow tradition, as seen before regarding fasting (2:18-22) and the 
			Sabbath (2:23-28). 
		--"Tradition" was the attempt to safeguard the people from breaking God's law, by enforcing 
			specific applications of the law made by famous rabbis or "elders."

	B.  Jesus rebukes the wrong focus of the Pharisees (6-8).
		--He quotes Isaiah, showing that this attitude is nothing new for God's people.
		--He calls them hypocrites because of their attitude.  We become hypocrites when:
			1. We pay more attention to reputation than to character.
			2. We carefully follow certain religious practices while allowing our hearts to remain 
			distant from God.
			3. We emphasize our virtues but others' sins.

II.  A revealing issue: God's commands are set aside by a self-righteous loophole (9-13).
	--God's command to honor parents was to be taken seriously (10).
	--Devoting one's money to God looks admirable, but if it should have been used for one's parents, how 
		can that please God when it violates his commandment?  It is possible this money could have 
		been used by the owner until his death, but not transferred to another--like an "irrevocable trust."

III.  The root issue: our hearts are the source of our uncleanness (14-23).
	A.  The principle: Uncleanness comes from within (14-15).
	B.  The explanation: 
		1. "Unclean" foods don't damage our souls (17-19).
			 --and by extension, neither does failure to keep religious ceremonies.
			--Christians are released from the OT ceremonial laws (Acts 10:9-15).
		2. Rather, our hearts may be unclean and produce sinful results (20-23).

Conclusion:  Have you taken your spiritual pulse lately?  Perhaps you should make a diagnosis.
	1.  Are you more concerned with how your life appears to others than how it truly is before God?
	2.  Do you think you have mastered Christianity, and people who don't live like you are out of line?
	3.  Do you measure your relationship to God by certain things you do or don't do?

A healthy heart will look more like this:
	1.  There is a sense of consistency and wholeness between your private and public lives, no fear or 
		that someone will see you the way you "really are."
	2.  There is a humility in your thoughts and conversation that results in speech free from judgmental 
		overtones and that genuinely reaches others.
	3.  There is an ache in your heart to know God better and to pursue his righteousness, not yours.


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