“He (Jesus) said, ‘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)
Jesus has just explained that no food that enters a person’s mouth makes him unclean because it does not get into the heart where the real problem is. No, all of humankind has an Original Sin problem within. Jesus knows us well. He knows what kind of rebellion and sin lurks within each of us. His list is not exhaustive. If our inner sinful thoughts are allowed to control us, then what comes out of our mouths will be affected, causing us to use language that is unclean. If we allow that to continue we may move into actions that bring our language into reality by turning our behavior to outward sin.
We all know what Jesus is talking about here. We wrestle every day with temptations from within. We don’t have to have the Devil’s help. We can be bad all by our self. Yes, the Devil may make us do some things but most of our sin is self-made. One of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit is “Self-Control.” It is a vital characteristic if we are to live a meaningful life on earth and in obedience to our God. We are fortunate to have a Savior in Jesus, who knows our sinful nature, loves us anyway, is able to forgive us as we repent, and help us resist temptation in the future. Praise His Name!
Heavenly Father, we are not fooling ourselves. We are sinful in through, word and deed. Every moment contains temptation and we are likely to fall for it often. Forgive our sin, and strengthen us for the next onslaught. We know it will come. In this life we will find no peace from it but Your presence makes the difference. Keep making that difference in us Father. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pastor Robert Forsberg is retired from Light of Christ Lutheran Church in Fairborn.