"You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men." Mark 7:8
One issue Jesus had with the religious leaders of his day was the way they used strict religious rules to try to manage people's behavior. The Pharisees claimed that the disciples, with their unclean hands, were offending God. Jesus replied with a quote from Isaiah to show the religious leaders that even though they had clean hands, they had unclean hearts. God is far more concerned with the condition of our hearts than with outward appearances.
Later in this chapter Jesus lists some of the shameful stuff that can live within us: "From within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly" (Mark 7:21-22).
If our only method of dealing with the mess inside is to fall back on rules and regulations, we might manage to look clean on the outside but we'll remain unchanged inside. The only successful way to overcome the brokenness inside is to come to the Lord and ask for a change of heart.
The good news of Jesus is that this inner renovation of the heart is possible through him. Once we admit our inner failures and come clean before God, we discover that forgiveness is available. We are free to let go of human traditions and hang on to the commands of God.
Lord, I know my own life is not immune to the shameful stuff Jesus lists here. Please cleanse my heart and renew my spirit by your grace through him. In Jesus' name, Amen.
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