Bible Reading: If you’re following along in the New Testament with me, today’s Scripture reading is Mark 7.
We tend to think, “we are what we do.” If you lie all the time, you are a liar. If you take things that don’t belong to you, you are a thief. If you speak negatively of people when they aren’t around, you are a gossip. In one sense, this is true, but if we think in terms of direction, the bible paints a different picture.
The bible doesn’t say, “you are what you do.” It says, “you do what you are.” In other words, our actions come out of us. They show God, us, and the world who we are are on the inside.
In Mark 7, Jesus says it like this:
“Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
– Mark 7:18–23
Jesus says, “What you do defiles you, because, what you do comes out of your heart.” The problem is, according to Jesus, our hearts are pretty twisted. It is from within that we find “evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.”
God’s prophet Jeremiah said it like this, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9). So what do we do? All this bad is in our hearts, and our hearts drive our actions. Is there any hope? Yes! His name is Jesus.
God knows our hearts. He knows they are sick. He knows we need more than a law, we need a Savior. In the gospel, Jesus doesn’t only pay the penalty for our sins (the things that come out of the heart), he changes our hearts. This is why we must be “born again” according to Jesus.
So what does this mean for us today? It means stop looking inside yourself to deal with problems that come from inside yourself. Stop staring at sin and wishing it wasn’t there. Our sin is the result of a heart problem. Jesus gives us himself as the satisfaction to all we could want. So as we fight sin, we “turn our eyes upon Jesus, look full and his wonderful face, and the things on earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.”