Today’s Bible study lesson is from Mark 7:1-23 – A hypocrite: Finish the sentence with your interpretation. And then, we’ll see how Jesus links it with inner purity, a quality the Pharisees didn’t seem to acquire.
You see, the Pharisees thought that, as long as they performed certain rituals, (like the hand washing in a certain way), they would be pure before God.
But, Jesus reprimanded them on this thought. He taught them that inner purity was more important than their outside appearance.
So, let’s find out what Jesus said about inner purity – and whether we have it..
Religious Traditions – Jesus Teaches about Inner Purity
The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem, and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders;
and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.)
The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?”
And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
‘But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’
Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”
He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.
For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, is to be put to death’;
but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”
The Heart of Man
After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them,
“Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. – Mark 7:1-15 NASB
What is a Hypocrite?
A habitual thief can take ten showers per day but does this mean he is no longer a thief? This example is similar to what Jesus is explaining in Mark to the Pharisees.
I remember a humorous definition of a hypocrite as:
“a person who is not quite himself on Sunday.“
This rings true with the Pharisees as they try to instill laws and additions to the ten commandments for “others” to follow. In the meantime, they are exempt, so to speak.
The Life Application Study Bible ® states that a person is a hypocrite if they (we)..
- “Pay more attention to reputation than to character.
- Carefully follow certain religious practices while allowing our hearts to remain distant from God.
- And, emphasize our virtues but others’ sins.”
Are We Clean Followers of God? Do We Have That “Inner Purity“?
If we are truly interested in following Christ, we have to make sure we are doing things that are pleasing to Him.
One point I received from this message is that God doesn’t seem to care whether or not we washed our hands before we ate that sandwich at lunch.
But, He does care how we treat and take care of one another.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.“
It’s What’s Inside that Counts
Inner purity comes from what we have on the inside, not always what others see us do on the outside. Sin begins with a thought, which is what Jesus is saying in verses 20-23.
If we focus on evil, any ritual(s) we perform on Sunday morning matters very little.
If we, on the other hand, concentrate on doing what’s good for others (and for God), then we be fulfill what Christ calls us to do.
Our “inner purity” will shine through.
And, we will not go through a service because of habit.
What Does God Really Want?
According to Scripture, all God asks us to do is to love Him and, love others.
That’s it. This statement clarifies everything we should be and do.
Not easy, I know. But, if we try to follow these two great commandments, the ritual of how a service is performed or, that we went to church this Sunday at all becomes secondary.
Let’s try to do what is right in God’s eyes today. d:-)
Love in Christ
If you would like to discover more about the love and life-changing experience of Jesus Christ, please take a moment to go here.