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The Heart of the Matter

posted Jun 2, 2013, 7:31 AM by Website Administrator   [ updated Jun 2, 2013, 7:32 AM ]
June 2, 2013                   
Key Passage: Mark 7:1-23

“The Heart of the Matter”

Riddle me this: if Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick, who can understand it?” then why do we get so wrapped around the axle on traditions and “playing the part” so others will accept us?  Christ called that hypocrisy and continually calls out those who practice it.  Here’s the heart of the matter: external conformity cannot tame our hearts, because our hearts are at war within!  Education, culture, social reform, politics, religion and religious practices are powerless to change the human heart.  The Living Bible’s paraphrase of Isaiah 29:13 states it like this: “These people speak very pettily about the Lord but they have no love for Him at all.  Their worship is a farce, because they claim God commands the people to obey their petty rules.”  There’s only one answer – and that’s a changed heart through Christ that sees people as infinitely valuable with hearts no less sick than ours.

Mark 7:1-5     The Problem Confronted…

2 Types of hypocrisy:
Right words but wrong attitudes…everything outward is right, but inwardly the mind and
        hearts are wrong.  
“In vain they do worship me, teaching as doctrine the ideas (traditions) of men”… simply 
        stated, this is playing religious games with God while holding on to men’s traditions.  “God 
        is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”  (John 4:24)  
* Worship must be genuine … something you do inside of you which is deep and real
* Worship is therefore individual … it reveals your true attitude about the glory of God
* Worship must be realistic … it changes as you grow, and it takes place constantly

Mark 7:6:16 The Problem Condemned…

“…they honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me…”  Basically, this is Christ saying:

They attend church, but their heart is far from me
They read their bible, but their heart is far from me
They pray eloquently, but their heart is far from me
They give money, but their heart is far from me
They do ministry, but their heart is far from me
They love to sing, but their heart is far from me
They even talk to others about me, but their heart is far from me

Mark 7:17-23 The Problem Clarified…

Evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, shameless behavior, blasphemy, pride, foolishness…even if the outside is right, these things will defile you.  Here’s what’s critical to note: If we’re guilty of even one of these, we’re capable of all of them!

Q:  In what ways do you honor Christ with your lips (actions)?
Q:  Conversely, in what way(s) is your heart far from him?

Bottom Line: Are you a hypocrite, hiding behind a mask, pretending to be one thing on Sunday while you’re someone else completely Monday – Saturday?  Are you a legalist, expecting everyone to live just like you do, standing in judgment when they don’t?  Do you have a defiled heart, such that if God dragged its contents out in front of us this morning you’d be horrified?  Why would you be embarrassed in front of us but not him?  Consider these questions as you go about your week, and don’t merely honor him with your words and actions; rather, let your actions and words spring from your changed heart!