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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood


13 Bad Things

He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’” (Mark 7:20-23, NIV)

Mark 7 opens with Jesus’ critics challenging Him because His disciples ate with unwashed hands. The dialog grows more heated as you listen to Jesus excoriate His opponents for focusing on all the wrong things.

Instead of concentrating on unwashed hands, they should have been concerned with unwashed attitudes. Instead of using tradition to mask their moral obligation to parents, they should have honored their commitment.

Rather than their concern for the kosher law regarding food, they should have been concerned about developing a kosher (or clean) heart.

The opponents of Jesus looked better from the outside than the inside. A photograph would have made them look good. An X-ray would have given the opposite result.

Jesus draws the dialog to a close with a strong statement about what really defiles a person, what truly makes them ugly. It’s what comes from within. His list of 13 evils is very similar to the 15 acts of the sinful nature articulated by the apostle Paul (Galatians 5:19-21) — referred to also as the works of the flesh.

Have you considered seriously what sin does to the human personality? It brings disintegration rather than wholeness. Look at the difference with the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24). Fruit is singular; “works” is plural. Thus, the person living the Christ-life enjoys an integrated personality that blossoms with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

In other words, the fruit of the Spirit all come together in a package. You don’t say, “Well, I’ll take joy, but I really don’t want patience or kindness.” But the “works” of the flesh or the “acts” of the sinful human nature don’t all come together in a bunch. An adulterer, for example, may not be a murderer. Or a deceitful person may not be a slanderer.

What unites wrong behavior is the attitude arising from the heart — evil thoughts. Thus, Jesus puts it first in His list of 13 things that defile the insides.

Where do sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly come from? They arise from evil thoughts.

What you think is what you do is what you say!

What a different world we would have if evil thoughts and actions all disappeared. However, the reverse is happening. In the past few decades, there has been an alarming increase of all the bad things Jesus said cause personal defilement. And personal defilement reproduces exponentially into societal defilement — and when we witness, as we are now, the breakdown of morality and a sense of righteousness in the culture, then we become a civilization on the brink of collapse.

The poet T.S. Eliot described the breakdown as “the center will not hold.” In other words, sin ultimately makes us fall apart — both as individuals, and as a nation.

What’s the solution? Bringing our brokenness to the Lord and asking for a clean heart, for right attitudes that then lead us to right actions. It is Christ who fixes us with salvation, deliverance and healing from the inside out.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, I confess that I too have been defiled with evil thoughts that have led to sinful actions. Create a clean heart in me. Renew a right spirit within me.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

On Your Mark

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