“Hear Me, everyone, and understand: There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are things that defile a man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!...Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?...What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” Mark 7:14 -23
In the past when I have read Mark 7 I always read over this particular section of the text with great confusion, not really ever coming away with a satisfied understanding of what Jesus was really talking about. But now that I have been studying the purpose of the gut and how one of its purposes is to carry toxins out of the body, I can see the truth in what Jesus is talking in these verses with much greater clarity.
You see, within each of our complex gut systems is a huge colony of microscopic organisms, which if functioning optimally, live in a healthy symbiotic relationship with the rest of our body. These cells within each of our guts actually out number the cell count in the rest of our bodies. And, these colonies were created specifically to live within each of us and aid, not only in the proper absorption and elimination of foods, but also to synthesize nutrients as we need them, encapsulate toxins and carry them out of our systems, and constantly fight against harmful bacterial infections.
Jesus being the Word, from which all things were formed, of course knew very well how the human gut was made to function most optimal to its design. That is why, within the verses above, He states: “Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” He was well aware of the human body's ability to take the majority of toxins it had the possibility of being exposed to and carry them out of the system, thus leaving the body cleansed and purified from anything that may have entered it through the mouth.
But in contrast, Jesus also knew that the heart of man is evil and within the core of each of us is an imbedded sin nature that can much more easily toxify any one of us to the point of destruction. When confronted by the Pharisees about His disciples not ritually washing before they ate (Mark 7: 1 - 13), Jesus was not suggesting that hand washing was to be eliminated from a healthy regimen, but what He was pointing out the fact that the body was made to eliminate toxins which came in from the outside, especially those that enter into the gut. But, what was of more concern to Jesus was the fact that there were toxins which were being produced from within the heart of men that were of more devastating effect and which were not being dealt with. It was those internally produced toxins which were reeking havoc on the souls of men who were too busy washing their outsides and not realizing their intense need to be washed internally, in the heart.
The fact is, it is not the toxins of the world that bring man to destruction. Yes, the human body can be destroyed by over-exposure to many toxins, but the soul cannot be destroyed by these things. It is from the heart of man, the sin nature that lives within each one of us, that if unchecked and not detoxified, we find ourselves in a place where destruction is eminent because of our permanent defilement before God. The death and resurrection of Jesus, which spilled His blood for the evil which proceeds from the heart of each man, woman, and child is the only means by which we can escape the destruction our our souls and become detoxified before God and thus become acceptable in His presence.
The question for both me and you is this, “Which type of cleansing are we more concerned about as we live out each of the days of our lives?” Do I spend more time trying to keep the rituals and routines of outward cleanliness to the expense of bathing in the redeeming blood of Christ each day? Do you find yourself worrying more about how clean your home, your car, your kids, your lifestyle, your reputation, or even your ministry looks to others to the expense of the internal work that God is trying to accomplish in those same areas of your life? We have to remember that God can see into each of us and it does not impress Him nor add to our own eternal purity if keep trying to look clean as a result of our own devices. The only cleanliness we should strive to seek out each day is the cleanliness that Jesus alone provides to clean us from the toxic nature of our own hearts – His redeeming and cleansing blood.
Why not spend some time today setting aside some of those outward cleansing activities that you normally do and instead replace them with some time spend dedicated to jump starting the process of detoxifying your soul, sitting in the presence of Jesus and allowing Him to wash you clean? You will always have time to catch up with cleaning those things on the outside, but a toxic heart left too long may never choose to come back and receive the cleansing it so desperately needs.