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The Righteousness of a Disciple, Part 2

Discipled to Disciple

When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, "Hear Me, everyone, and understand: 15 There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. - Mark 7:14-15

It would be difficult to overstate how radical Jesus’ comments were in the context of applied religion of the day. According to the teaching of the day, outward actions were the only measure of holiness. The more you could do in terms of rituals and traditions the better you were. And that was the goal. The religious leaders proved their holiness by strictly adhering to their own code. Judaism had been turned into a strong form of works salvation.

Jesus had already addressed the disparity in the sermon on the mount. He compared the outward requirements of the Law with the thoughts and attitudes behind them. It was a reminder that doing things to impress people with outward righteousness would never satisfy the righteous demands of a God who looks at the heart.

While His disciples may have heard what He said to the extent that they stopped being concerned with such things as washing before they ate, nothing changed with the Pharisees and other leaders. They continued to focus on outward performance and ignore the need for inward change. They taught the people the same things so that Jesus would refer to the whole situation in Matthew as the blind leading the blind.

After excoriating the Pharisees and Scribes for their hypocrisy, He gathered the crowds of people to himself and taught them knowing that they would never hear the truth from their own leaders. He spoke words that would cut through generations of hearts hardened by false teaching.

His message was simple but life-transforming. He told them to stop concerning themselves with the man-made rules and traditions of the elders and to become intensely concerned with the condition of their own hearts. Sinful actions come from sinful hearts. No amount of rule based cover-up could change that. Since all people find themselves defiled from the inside out, the only solution that will change anything is a change of heart.

And that is why Jesus came! He came to change hearts. He came to cleanse from the inside out, to give righteousness from the inside out, to provide freedom and hope from the inside out. He came to do from the inside out that which no one else could do. And He did that; He does that yet today by faith; simple trusting Him for it.

When people come to the end of themselves, whether they are the worst of sinners or people like the Pharisees convinced of their own righteousness, and turn to Jesus, He instantly grants them forgiveness, cleansing and eternal life. Many believe they are too great sinners to come; others think they are OK and don’t need to come, but as many as do come, find the power to follow God from the inside out.

The same is true for those of us who have already trusted in Jesus. Sometimes we fall into the outward performance trap thinking acting a certain way will fix things. We forget that right living is a matter of the heart. The provision is simple: Confess and trust. There is power form the inside out to walk in the holiness and life of God. But it must always begin in the heart! Even today, it may seem radical! It may be but it works every time because it is the provision of God.

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