Hearts

The religious leaders in Jesus’ day had many skills. Missing the point was chief among them.
While Jesus and His men were in the North doing the work of the ministry, a delegation of scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem confronted Him. They had a pre-packaged charge to level against Jesus and His men—eating with unwashed hands. It was a big deal to them because they found power in the various traditions of the elders. Some of the rules came from Scripture but many were elaborations on the Law by teachers in past eras of time. These leaders were the keepers of these traditions and wielded power over the everyday person just trying to get by.

Hypocrisy was inevitable; they would rigidly enforce small, easily measured, readily visible infractions of these laws, while large, more important but less visible matters would be ignored if there was benefit in it for them.

Jesus was ready for them.
Instead of defending Himself and His men, Jesus leveled a counter charge involving complicated matters of inheritance. This stopped the scribes and Pharisees cold. For us it would be like someone asking about private taxation records or hidden back accounts. How did Jesus know about that? Lawmakers make laws to benefit lawmakers and they bend the Word of God to do so. He immediately applied the principle:

“Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.”

The arrogance required to do this is simply massive. To negate the Word of God by superseding it with one’s own self benefiting schemes is an amazing way to sin against God. Their trip, begun in arrogance, ended in embarrassment and a lecture. Jesus condemned them and their like. They displayed an outward, carefully manufactured show of religiosity but their hearts were far from God. Dirty hands at dinner were not the problem; dirty hearts in power were true violations of God’s laws.

“…in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'”

The corruption spewing from their mouths was more damaging that dirt under the fingernails of the disciples.

When asked to explain what He meant, Jesus told us all we need to know about the heart.

“…those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.”

Heart Trouble
Until we meet Jesus and follow Him, the whole human race suffers from heart trouble. Our sinful words and deeds come from our sinful hearts. Even those of us who would worship God in Spirit and Truth must guard our heart for a heart full of mixed motives cannot worship in truth. Our outward show of praise does not impress God if our heart is not worshiping. The heart is led by the eyes. Sin in the heart—impure motives, lustful fantasies, proud schemes—blind us to the dangers of sin. We are deceived by these internal things, hidden from the eyes of others and we think that God is also blind to them. We become, like the scribes and Pharisees, the blind leading the blind, and the only destiny we have is the ditch.

The Heart Dealer
Jesus deals in new hearts. Yes, He repairs broken hearts. Yes, He heals wounded hearts. His specialty is this: He can give you a brand new heart! A heart that is free from sin and beating to His rhythms of grace.

Matthew 15:1-20
Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God” — then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And 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.'” When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” Then His disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” Then Peter answered and said to Him, “Explain this parable to us.” So Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”
Psalm 24:3-6
Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, And righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him,Who seek Your face.
Proverbs 4:23
Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, like every other human being, I sometimes have heart trouble. Mold my heart into the likeness of Your great heart, full of compassion and truth, gentle and pure, holy and a blessing to all. Purify my heart, O Holy Spirit. Cleanse it from self-centeredness. Make it pliable to the will of God. I will guard my heart, as Your Word commands, and fill it with good things. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Song:
Change My Heart, O God
Words and Music: Eddie Espinosa

Change my heart O God.
Make it ever true.
Change my heart O God.
May I be like You.

You are the Potter,
I am the clay.
Mold me and make me.
This is what I pray.

Change my heart O God.
Make it ever true.
Change my heart O God.
May I be like You.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

2 thoughts on “April 29, 2018 “Hearts”

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