Create in me a pure heart, O God. Psalm 51:10
It was 1854, and something was killing thousands of people in London. It must be the bad air, people thought. And indeed, as unseasonable heat baked the sewage-fouled River Thames, the smell grew so bad it became known as “The Great Stink.”
But the worst problem wasn’t the air. Research by Dr. John Snow would show that contaminated water was the cause of the cholera epidemic.
We humans have long been aware of another crisis—one that stinks to high heaven. We live in a broken world—and we’re prone to misidentify the source of this problem, treating symptoms instead. Wise social programs and policies do some good, but they’re powerless to stop the root cause of society’s ills—our sinful hearts!
When Jesus said, “Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them,” He wasn’t referring to physical diseases (Mark 7:15). Rather, He was diagnosing the spiritual condition of every one of us. “It is what comes out of a person that defiles them,” He said (v. 15), listing a litany of evils lurking inside us (vv. 21–22).
“Surely I was sinful at birth,” David wrote (Psalm 51:5). His lament is one we can all voice. We’re broken from the beginning. That’s why David prayed, “Create in me a pure heart, O God” (v. 10). Every day, we need that new heart, created by Jesus through His Spirit.
Instead of treating the symptoms, we must let Jesus purify the source.
In what ways might you be treating symptoms instead of letting Jesus clean up the source? How can you share the good news of what Jesus did for you?
Heavenly Father, guard my heart and help me be attentive to Your Spirit within me.
In Mark 7:13–17, we encounter three groups of people. In verse 13, Jesus directed a pointed message at a narrow subset of people—the teachers of the law. Christ plainly saw the gigantic loopholes these experts had created through which they could violate the spirit of God’s law and said, “You nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down.” Having established His case, Jesus turned to the crowd and said within hearing of the teachers of the law, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles them” (v. 15). Beginning with verse 17, Christ’s disciples approached Him privately and asked about His teaching. He reiterated His point that what goes into the stomach isn’t what defiles a person. Mark then notes parenthetically, “In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean” (v. 19).