What Makes Clean and Unclean

A CG reflection on Mark 7:1-23

In this passage, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for being hypocrites. These were the religious leaders of the time – men who diligently kept the law and observed every Jewish tradition and practice. Yet, this is what Jesus said about them:

‘This people honor Me with their lips,

But their heart is far from Me.

And in vain they worship Me,

Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’


He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.

Matthew 7:6-9

Jesus exposed the mask of religiosity that the Pharisees wore. These were highly distinguished men in society who observed elaborate ceremonial washings (amongst many other traditions) – getting the approval of the Jews and other Pharisees – yet forsaking the commandments of God Himself.

In the passage, Jesus pointed out the root of this hypocrisy – that their hearts were far from Him. On the surface, they were zealous to uphold the Jewish traditions, but in their hearts, they did it for themselves, wanting to retain their position of superiority amongst the people. They had lost sight of the heart of God and His intent when He gave the law.

Today, let us examine ourselves, have our hearts also drifted from God in the midst of our pursuits? What are our motivations, when we do the things we do? Do we have hearts that lean in to Him, seeking His will, and willing to listen to what He tells us?

In Verse 14, Jesus then says:

“There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man.

To put it another way, “sin is not a splash of mud upon man's exterior, it is a filth generated within himself”. The Pharisees were more concerned with cleaning the specks of mud off their exterior and portraying an image of moral superiority, but they have clearly missed the point since they neglect the thick filth that lies within. What a powerful reminder that we can only really be changed before God from the inside out, and this cleansing has been offered to us by no other means than through Jesus and His finished work on the cross.

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Psalm 51:10

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.


Dear Heavenly Father, today I come before you, so grateful that Your sacrifice on the cross has reconciled me back to You. I thank you that the waves of Your forgiveness wash me clean, and I pray that You would anchor my wandering heart deep within Your love and truth. Draw me closer still to you, and help me to abide by Your commandments. In Jesus’ name,


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