What Defiles a Person
Today's reading was Mark 7. And since this week we're digging deeper into the text by restating it in our own words, here's what I did with verses 14-23.
Nobody gets defiled by what they eat, because food doesn't stay in your system forever. So go ahead and have a nice big portion of baby back ribs if you want. A person is defiled because of the evil in his heart - evil that is manifest on the outside in things like murder, stealing, sexual immorality, greed, pride and foolishness. All those behaviors are merely symptoms of an evil heart. It is the heart that is the problem.
Since I love baby back ribs and bacon, I really love this passage because Jesus says it's OK for me to eat them. But the more important issue here is what I need to do in order to not be defiled. I need to guard my heart. And there are two important aspects to that.
First, I need to guard against allowing evil thoughts to enter my mind in the first place and when I find they are there, I need to get rid of them. That is what Paul is addressing in 2 Corinthians 10:5 when he commands us to "take every thought captive". But that alone in not enough, because if I don't replace those thoughts with something else, they will just return again.
So the second thing I need to do is to fill my mind with the things that are pleasing to God. And again, Paul gives us some help with that in his letter to the Philippians. In Philippians 4:8 we are commanded to think about things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise. And the best way to do that is by consistently spending time in God's Word, the Bible.