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PRESBYTERIAN
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Seeking to equip people to live as Christian disciples wherever God has placed them.

“Whoever is Not Against Us is For Us

Mark 7:14-23

Can a person be corrupted by outside influences?  We hear about the effects of the media, about depictions of sex and violence.  Can’t there be negative effects as a result of being exposed to these influences?  The answer certainly appears to be a clear “yes.”  This is one reason why it is so important to protect children from unhealthy influences.  The relentless propaganda campaign against the Jews in Nazi Germany certainly played a role in the Holocaust.

Yet Jesus is saying here that we are not corrupted by outside influences.  At first he is talking about food which the Old Testament Law had defined as being clean or unclean.  Jesus here pronounces all foods to be clean.  However his succeeding comments on the human heart with its “evil intentions” reveals that he is talking about more than food.

We cannot be corrupted by outside influences.  However those influences can trigger responses in ourselves.  We already have within us, Jesus says, negative forces which give rise to “fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly.”

All of these desires and practices are already within us.  They don’t come from the outside.  Outside negative elements can stimulate these practices but they can’t make us follow them. It is our own depraved nature which is prepared to respond to the slightest temptation.

We cannot hide from the world (which Jesus came to save).  Yet we need to know our limits.  We pray in the Lord’s Prayer not to be led into temptation.  Sometimes temptation is unavoidable.  At those times we need to cry out to the Lord Jesus.

However to blame outside sources for our sins is a cop-out.  In the words of the apostle Paul, “For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh” (Rom. 7:18).  We make our own choices.  We choose to sin.  It is our heart that is deceitful (Jer.17:9).

Jesus comes to fulfill God’s promise of a new heart (Ezekiel 11:19-20; John 7:37-39).

Gracious and loving God give me a new heart to follow and obey you.  I pray for this in Jesus’ name, Amen.