Saturday, January 06, 2007

A lesson in Matthew 15

You know how you know what you're looking for in the Bible, and it takes you a really long time to find what you're looking for? But you know it's in there somewhere? After tons of searching and reading, I think I found what I was looking for in Matthew 15- most specifically, verses 10-20. At the time the Pharisees and teachers were trying to provoke Jesus and prove that he wasn't a Godly man. They were so wrapped up in the traditions of old and the way things have always been to open their eyes and see a new day had dawned. Specifically, the issue of food was brought up.

In Moses and Abraham's time, God had dictated that certain foods were unclean to eat, and should be avoided as a religious law. I've heard many arguments over time as to why this was, but I like the reasoning most that God was simply trying to protect his people. This was well before the time of refrigeration. And while a side of beef will be fine for several days left out (actually improves with age) a side of pork will not be fine- it will fester and fill with disease.

Anyway (not the point at all today). Jesus made a point to say to his followers that what they eat is not what keeps them away from God. He was questioned on this by Peter, and so he explained: 6 “Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked. 17 “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. 18 But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. 19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. 20 These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.” Along the lines of what I was reading yesterday, our hearts need to be cleansed before we can be intimate with God.

Look at the list of things that Jesus mentions defiles us, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. When I think about the severity of those... God places a liar in the same place as a murderer. Think about that! If we want to be close to God, we need to keep these things out of our minds and lives. How easy it can be sometimes to tell a lie or two, or in the case of slander- to share a bit of gossip. But when we do that, we are no better than someone who takes a life or sleeps with someone else's wife.

Yesterday we found out that in order to be intimate with God, we need to take the first step and desire to draw closer to him. He will become closer to us, but we need to become closer to him first. Today we find that another step towards intimacy is to cleanse ourselves of unclean thoughts and actions. My Bible calls this step Inner Purity. We have to strive towards inner purity if we want to discover intimacy with God. This looks and sounds easy on paper. But I think to actually achieve inner purity it's going to take a bit of prayer and a bit of work. And a bit of help from God.


Claire said...

ERIKA! This is the EXACT same passage that my pastor preached from last week! Wow! I gave a review of his sermon at if you want to see it. I pray that I will listen, HEAR, and OBEY what God is trying to tell me and teach me about intimacy with Him!

Erika said...

Oh my, oh my.

Your Pastor put it much better than I did, that's for sure. ;-) Something's clearly afoot. You also referenced Isaiah 57, which I was thinking about today. I think I'm going to not post today, and just reflect, and go to church to hear more from his word.

Claire said...

Taking a break is always good. Sometimes we have to focus on our own relationships first before we can effectively share with others.