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What Defiles a Man – Book of Mark

By Pastor Hunter Bezet

Table of Contents

I hope that you all have enjoyed the book of Mark as we’ve been going through this. I love knowing that my Bible study time every morning has been alongside and parallel with so many of you. I hope that you guys have been going through this reading plan with us. With that being said, I’m going to get right into the text this morning. So, if you would, please turn with me to Mark 7:1-23:

The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)

So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”

He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.

      They worship me in vain;
          their teachings are merely human rules.’

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)—then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”

After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” 

Yes, Jesus is talking about what you think He’s talking about right here. Ok? Let’s keep going:

(In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come

This is where it gets real…

—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

Would you please bow your heads with me?


Lord, I thank you for Your Word. I thank you for the way that our church has been able to go through and learn Your Word together. Father, I can feel the Body of Christ, Your body growing stronger as we are getting deeper into Your Word. Lord, I pray that this morning we would all have ears to hear, Lord that we would not sit here and think about who we hope hears this message, but we would evaluate our own hearts and address our own issues, because we know we’ve got some! Amen!


We need to address the elephant in the room here before we get too far down the road, okay? Because for the first few weeks of the Book of Mark, you guys got to hear from Pastor Amir. He’s been doing such an amazing job! Don’t worry, he’ll be back next week! But last week, we heard from Pastor Amir talking out of Mark chapter 5 about the woman with the issue of blood. We see a very different Jesus in this story of the woman with the issue of blood. What we see of Jesus in this moment is that He bent down, looking at this woman, forgiving her of her sins, having eye-to-eye contact with her, ultimately looked her in the eye and calling her, “Daughter.”  


It’s a beautiful moment! However, I think that a lot of people think that the way that Jesus acted with this woman is the way that Jesus acts in general. But that’s not the only side of Jesus because also, here we are just a few verses later in chapter 7, and we see Jesus looking at people and calling them hypocrites! What is the difference? There is a huge contrast in this moment. And if you don’t understand that there is something that is different with both of the people who have come to Jesus in this moment, you’re not going to understand the point that Jesus is trying to get across. 


This week we saw when Jesus gets His meal interrupted by the Pharisees, these religious leaders. He goes off on them, and He starts quoting Scripture to their faces. 


I don’t know about you, but growing up, if I ever went to my grandmother’s house, (who’s down here on the front row!) and she started quoting scripture to me, I knew things just got real! It was time for Hunter to shut up and LISTEN to what Gijo was trying to say. That is what Jesus is doing to these Pharisees.


But I also find myself kind of looking at this story and thinking, “What’s going on?” Because there’s a part of me that kind of agrees with the Pharisees! Like, “Yeah, Jesus, your disciples need to wash their hands!” 


By the way, I read a stat this week. This is gonna blow your mind. Fifty percent of men do not use soap when they wash their hands after going to the bathroom. And that is why we do the fist bump! All right! But what’s going on? Because you kind of look at this and think, “The Pharisees are making a big deal out of washing their hands. Why is Jesus using this moment to make such a big deal?”


It seems like a trivial thing, but I want you to hear me when I say, “It’s not.” Jesus never makes a big deal out of anything by accident. It is always on purpose. He never picks a fight for no reason. Jesus loves to confront people, and He always, throughout Scripture, confronts these three things:


  • People who are self-righteous
  • People who have a religious spirit
  • People who have a prideful heart


When you study it, you will see Jesus get something on the inside of Him, every time He is confronting that. 


So let’s go back and look at the first five verses again and put it into context:


The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)

So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”

I love this part in the book of Mark, because Mark understood that there would be a lot of people who would be reading the Gospel of Mark who had no idea what the Jewish culture and customs were. So, he is giving some insight into why the Pharisees are so concerned with the disciples of Jesus. 


But then, we see right here in this story the Pharisees have taken this concept of the washing of hands, and they have gone way beyond what God has prescribed for them to do. They began to develop more traditions that went beyond God’s law because they thought it would make them extra holy. They thought that if they followed these traditions that they could earn their sanctification, their salvation. 


In one example, the priest, according to the Mosaic law, had to wash before they went into God’s presence. So, the Pharisees said, “Well, if the priests are going to do it, then we’re all gonna do it!” Every single one of us! Before every meal, we’re going to create this tradition that says that everyone has to wash before every meal, and if you want to be considered clean, then you have to do this, too! You’ve gotta do what we are doing.


They did this with several things, and Jesus is using this moment not to make a point about washing hands, but to make a point about what they had misunderstood about the Word of God. That’s why He says in Mark 7:13:

Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

He’s so pointed in this moment! He doesn’t just end there; He goes on to quote Isaiah 29:6-8, when He says:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.

    They worship me in vain;
          their teachings are merely human rules.’

You have let go of the commands of God, and you are holding on to human traditions.


Notice the word “hearts” in this passage. “They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.”


This is what Jesus is trying to get through to the Pharisees. He doesn’t care about the washing of hands! What He cares about is that He sees the condition of the hearts of the Pharisees and He knows that their hearts are not turned towards Him. And when Jesus sees our hearts out of alignment, He is going to address it! He is going to talk about it. 


The heart of the matter is that this is the matter of the heart. And He wants us to see it.


There are three takeaways here that will help us evaluate the conditions of our hearts:


1. Realize We Have a Heart Problem


Every single one of us has an issue. Growing up I had a lot of car issues. You may sit there and think, “Hunter, you don’t know what car issues are!”


No, I really had a lot of car issues. I feel so bad for my parents; I know my dad has been praying that my kids would give me the same issues that I gave him for 12 years! When I was growing up, I ended up totaling my car because I hit my mom. That happened in Mayflower. I totaled another car because I hydroplaned on the interstate. That was a great day. I had another car stolen from me out of the church parking lot! I was trying to go to church! But none of those are anywhere near the worst mistake that I ever made growing up. 


The worst mistake I ever made with my car was this. RIght after my car got stolen, we got an insurance settlement. I thought, “I’m gonna make these dollars stretch as far as I can.” And somebody told me that the best place to go to get a great deal on a vehicle isn’t Arkansas, but it’s the Dallas/Ft. Worth area! “They have a lot of cars. You should research down there; Craigslist is your friend.”


So, I thought,, “Okay, yeah! I’m gonna do this!”


So, I started researching. Inevitably, I find this car. It’s a great deal! Too good to be true. I’m so excited about this deal; I get in contact with this guy, I fly down to Dallas, and I’m 17 years old flying to Dallas to get this car. I know nothing about cars! This guy picks me up from the airport, takes me to a gas station…this all happened, okay? Don’t worry, I’m alive! He takes me to a gas station and says, “I’m gonna leave you right here. I’m gonna go get the car and bring it back.” Red flag number one.


I have since learned that you always need to be around a car when it is started! 


So the guy goes to get the car, and then comes back to the gas station. He pulls into the parking lot. I’m so excited about this car! It’s so shiny and beautiful! It never occurred to me that it was so shiny because it had been spray-painted recently. Okay? I’m that naive in this moment. 


I drive it, he fills it up with gas for me, and I start heading back to Arkansas. I didn’t make it halfway before that car broke down on me on the side of the road. And I just want you guys to know that that car was a complete and total loss for Hunter Bezet because I chose to ignore all the red flags of this situation because I wanted it to work out!


The reality is that ignoring the red flags in your life does not make the problems go away. It’s amazing how often we tend to do this. You say, “Man, Hunter, if I just ignore this situation, it’ll work itself out. It will solve itself.” But that’s not how it works! Eventually it’s always going to catch up to us.


But listen! You are never going to be enough either! In fact, your life is always going to add up to a total loss. Just like this car, there’s no hoping things work out. If you ignore the problems in your life, it is inevitably going to lead to one place: a total loss. The only way for you to find redemption is for you to admit that you’re not enough and to remember that Jesus is.


And here’s the good news: He will always be enough, every single time! I don’t care what mistakes that you have made in your life, and I don’t care how many red flags you’ve overlooked. The moment that you decide to tell Jesus: “Jesus, I’m not enough, but I know You are,” He can step in and begin to reshape our hearts.


That is Jesus’s entire point here. “These people are honoring Me with their lips, and they look great on the outside, but their hearts—what’s under the hood—are far from Me.” It’s not enough. We all have a heart problem, and we all need Jesus. If you don’t believe me yet, let me prove it to you. Romans 3:23 says this:


For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.


Jesus always saved His harshest critiques for those people who thought they could change the inside by changing the outside. He always understood that we were going to get this wrong. We can read about the Pharisees here and look down our noses at them, but if you do that, you will fail to see that this happens to a lot of us a lot more than we admit. It’s everywhere. It’s all the time. We all have brokenness. We all have these traditions and these things that we think make us “better than,” if you’re not careful.


So, like the Pharisees, we have our own version of washing hands. Things and thoughts like, “If I can just educate myself enough, then I will be respected.” “If I just know a little bit more theology, then I can make it to heaven.” “If I can get a Master’s degree, then I’ll finally be enough.”


Some people chase other things, like the perfect physique, thinking that that will give them some kind of sanctification. Some donate to charity, or they volunteer. All of those things are great, and there’s nothing wrong with them, unless they become your source instead of what is on the inside. All of it is washing hands; none of it addresses the heart issue.


2. I must guard my heart.


We have to guard our hearts. We have to take it seriously. I heard a terrible story the other day of a man who had a disease-ravaged lung, and he knew that there was nothing he could do to fix this lung. The only way that he could get through it and survive this issue was to have a lung transplant. So, he gets on the list, he gets approval, and he gets a brand-new lung. But then a couple of years later, his new lung had become completely ravaged as well. The reason? Because he got a new lung, but he didn’t change his lifestyle. He kept living the exact same way, thinking that it was going to be okay. The problem was that he had given up guarding the issues in his lung, and so now it cost him a second one.


God will cleanse your heart; He will give you a new heart! But now it is your responsibility to guard it, to pick up that mantle and to guard your heart. Proverbs 4:23 says,

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.


Growing up, your parents may have taught you how to protect yourself from different things in your life. They may have taught you not to travel alone at night. They may have taught you how to protect your investments, like how to diversify and invest in the long-term, not necessarily the short-term. But how many of us were taught how to guard our hearts?


Thinking about this this week, I was reminded of a lesson I learned from my uncle Jim growing up. He has some land in northern Arkansas with several cattle. I remember how excited we were to explore all this land. I got to bring my pellet gun, and I loved it! But Uncle Jim had a rule: You can go through any gate that you want to on my property, but you better close it back. If you don’t close that gate back, my Uncle Joe would let you know about that decision in no uncertain terms, and it would be a lesson that you would never forget! I can speak about that from personal experience.


The big takeaway from that is to know what gates in our hearts need to be opened and what gates in our hearts need to be closed. We need to constantly evaluate whether we need to open or close different gates. This is where life groups come in. This is where accountability partners come in. This is where somebody outside of you has to be able to speak into your life and say, “Hey, Bro! You’re letting some things into your life that you should not be letting into your life” Or, “Hey, when was the last time you were reading the Word?” 


You need people keeping you accountable; you need people saying, “Listen, I value your eternity more than I value our relationship in this moment.” You need people who are willing to say, “Listen, God has to matter more in your life.” Psalm 101:3 says this:


I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.


That word “worthless” is translated in the NIV Bible as “vile,” but I like the word worthless a little bit more. The reason is that I think that when we see the word “vile,” we might write off some things in our lives that maybe God wants us to reevaluate. Are we really looking at things in our lives and asking, “Is this worthless? Is there any value being added to my life by me having this thing?” When it comes to the sexual standards that I have set up in my life, does this add worth or take it away. When it comes to the words coming out of my mouth, when it comes to the way that I’m treating other people, when it comes to what brings meaning and purpose to my life, does this show that I’m watching help with that? Does this song that I’m listening to exalt God or take away from my heart? Does this short video that is entertaining me right now add any value to my life? Does this pull me toward God’s perspective or to the standards of the world that always seem to elevate ourselves over anything of God?


No one is exempt from this point. We all need to evaluate how we are guarding our hearts.


3. I must cleanse my heart.


Listen, we don’t just guard our hearts because it’s the right thing to do. We guard our hearts because we want a clean heart. We want a heart that is turned towards Jesus. We want a heart that loves Jesus and responds to the world and to the circumstances in our lives the way that Jesus would respond to them, not the way that our flesh would respond to them. In order for us to live that way, we have to be intentional. We have to get this right.


I was thinking this week about different ways we could approach cleansing our hearts. I started thinking about different ways different people clean their children. There are really two different ways that you can do it. You can do it in a rhythm kind of way, or you can do the sniff test.Let me explain to you the difference. The rhythm is this: “Hey, every day we’re going to take a bath or a shower!” There’s a rhythm, whether every day, every other day, or every Saturday night. Or, the sniff test! You don’t really ask them to bathe until they walk by you and you realize there’s a problem. “Hey come over here! Oh, my goodness, you need to take a bath.”


Here’s the problem with the sniff test when it comes to your heart. If you’re seeking to cleanse your heart by the sniff test method, it’s too late. By the time that you notice that something is off in your heart, by the time that you experience the stink of a dirty heart, you’ve already hurt the people that are closest to you, you’ve already hurt your reputation, and you’ve already done something that you’ll regret. 


We have to be a people who have a rhythm to cleansing our hearts. We have to be on top of this because if we are not, this is going to cost us.


So I want to close by giving you four quick things inspired by Scripture which are ways we can cleanse our hearts, not just today but to apply daily in your Bible readings and the way that you pray. If we can get in a rhythm of cleansing our hearts, God can use us in ways that we’ve never experienced before.

  • Come to Jesus


I’m reminded of the story we talked about the first week with Pastor Amir in Mark 1:40-41. It says:


…a man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” JEsus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man and said, “I am willing. Be clean.”


This is Jesus. He is willing, and he is ready to cleanse our hearts. He is the key to our cleansing. What He requires of us is to come to Him, to admit that we have issues, to admit that we’re not enough. Once we do that, we’re adopted into His family. That’s what it says in Acts 15:9:


…and He made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.


What Luke is talking about here in the Book of Acts is the difference between Gentiles and Jews. Up to that point, there had been a rift; Jesus is saying, “The rift is gone” The rift is gone because Jesus has cleansed our hearts. We have to come to Him to receive that cleansing.


None of the other methods that you and I can choose in life will ever work. There’s only one way, and His name is Jesus.


The second way that we can cleanse our heart is:

  • Confess Your Sin


First John 1:9 says:


If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


We have to confess to God to receive our forgiveness. Confess, though, to other people to receive healing. Listen, God is always there and is always ready to listen to us, and we will be healed if we confess our sins to Him. But if we want to see some real things happen in our lives, if we want to see some real progress, we need to talk to other people about what is going on. James 5:16 says:


Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.

  • Wash With the Word


Ephesians 5:26 says,


… that he may sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word…


Listen, our hearts get cleansed when we spend daily time in His Word, studying His word. We have to prioritize it. It has to be something that matters to us. By the way, if you have kids, know that they’re paying attention. So, set an example for them, as well.

  • Cleanse Our Hearts with Worship


2 Corinthians 7:1 says,


Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.


Listen, fear of God equals worship. Not the singing of songs but the exultation of God. Like, a surrender moment where we say, “God, I’m not enough! I need you to be Lord over everything in me. I’m sorry for the times that I have tried to take the reins and I have tried to take control, but I’m surrendering it to you.”


Sometimes we come into church not in the right place mentally, or maybe we’ve had a long week, and it’s easy to be stone cold in that worship moment while singing these worship songs, especially for guys. But there’s something important about our heart posture, knowing that what we are expressing to Him is true worship, exalting God above our lives, and we say, “You’re enough; I’m not.” And we exalt God above everything else in life.

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