This past Sunday I had the opportunity to preach at my friend Ryan’s church, Vertical Church here in North Carolina. It was a powerful message out of the book of Mark that they have been in. I preached from Mark 7 and decided I would share my notes with you over the next two weeks. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed preaching it!
God isn’t interested in behavior modification, He’s interested in heart transformation.
Mark 7:1-23 NIV
1The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus 2and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3(The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)
5So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”
6He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
“ ‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
7 They worship me in vain;their teachings are merely human rules.’
8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”
9And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 10For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 11But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)—
12then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. 13Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”
14Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them. 16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”
17After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable.
18“Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)
20He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”
Everything we do in life, good or bad, is derived from our hearts!
James 1:13-14 NIV
13When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.
God isn’t interested in behavior modification, He’s interested in heart transformation. Religion about God focuses on our exterior behavior, relationship with God focuses on our interior condition.
Who you ARE will determine what you DO. You don’t really have to wait around too long to see who someone really is; eventually who we are will come to the surface.
I love that Vertical Church is about making disciples, it’s not about religion, it’s not about how spiritual you are, it’s all about becoming everything God has called you to be. Becoming the person God has called you to be always starts with your heart.
Jesus was emphatic about the condition of our hearts…. he said things like “if your eye causes you to sin, poke it out, if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off, if you even look at a woman lustfully you’ve already committed adultery, if you have hatred in your heart you’ve already committed murder!” Jesus went right to the heart!
Jesus didn’t come to set up a religion, He came to incite a heart revolution! The Old Testament is about how we get to God through our works, by what we do; our self-righteousness… the New Testament is how God has done everything for us through Jesus and our job is to keep our hearts in check. Jesus came to fulfill the law by showing us the heart of the law!
Next week I’ll share with you three steps to keeping our hearts right. Stay tuned!