Jeff Overton, lead pastor
Beulah Baptist Church, Douglasville
Growing up I had one sibling – a younger brother. There were many times when we would get in trouble and try to avoid it by pointing out something the other one had done that was a bigger offense. For instance, my brother may try to get me into trouble by saying, “Jeff is slouching at the table.” I would quickly respond with, “Brian did not wash his hands.”
This is the image that comes to my mind when I read our text for the week. The Pharisees saw some of the disciples eating with unclean hands and addressed the issue with Jesus. Their issue had nothing to do with germs but with ritual purity.
Jesus addresses their issue by pointing out how hypocritical they were being. He quotes from Isaiah and points out how people will speak honor to God with their lips but their hearts and life actions are far from Him. He goes even to the point of saying their worship is in vain and their teachings are just rules taught by men.
This encounter teaches us some very important truths that we should apply to our lives. First, we must know and obey the Word of God. The trouble we encounter when we don’t know God’s word is that we tend to add our own stipulations to it. We come up with “commandments” that meet our needs or agendas and yet have nothing to do with the word of God or even worse contradict the word.
In verse 11, Jesus points this out. “Corban” is a gift that is dedicated to God and can only be used for that purpose. Now, the person did not have to give up the gift and could continue to use and enjoy the item or property until they die at which time it would be given to the temple. Jesus accuses the Pharisees of failing to honor their parents because when the parents stood in need, the Pharisees would say something such as, “I would like to help but everything I have is Corban – given to God – and I can’t use it to help you.”
In this situation, the rule of man overrode the word of God. We must be Biblical Christians that stand on the word of God and not on the tradition of man.
Secondly, we must not misuse the word of God. The Pharisees knew they should be honoring their parents and yet Jesus calls them out. In verse 13 He tells them it is not just in this one instance but they also do it in many other ways. God has given us His word and expects us to follow it. Yet, we try to add to it or cut corners around it so we can have things the way we want them. It is imperative that we study God’s word in proper context so that we can rightly apply it to our lives.
Thirdly, we must allow the word of God and the Holy Spirit to work within us. Jesus makes a powerful statement in verse 15 – “Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him.” Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him “unclean.” Jesus would elaborate on this even more in verse 19 – “for it does not go into his heart but into his stomach.”
Here, He is saying what comes from the heart reveals a man to be clean or unclean. This is why it is important to allow the word of God to pierce our hearts and the Holy Spirit to dwell there. Psalm 119:11 says “I have hidden your word in my heart that I may not sin against you.” If we want to truly live pure, clean lives it must come from knowing the word of God.
We must not misuse it for our own purposes, but instead let it do its work in us. That word will convict us, challenge us, encourage us, and strengthen us. It is not to be used to try to make us look better than someone else. We don’t lift ourselves up to God by bringing someone else down from Him. Jesus pointed this out to the Pharisees and His disciples.
Let us not water down the word of God with our own agendas and biases. Instead, let us be true Biblical Christians by letting the word work in us and then living out that word as we live as His disciples. The standard we need to meet is found in comparing ourselves with God’s word, not in comparing ourselves to others.
Let God’s word do more than inform you, let it transform you.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
- What are some ways we “water down” God’s word to fit our desires?
- How can fellow believers hold each other accountable to the word of God?
- Read Hebrew 4:12. How would this apply to today’s lesson?