Mark 7

January Memory Verse: Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Mark 8:34 (NIV)
Today we are going to focus on verses 1-23. It is in this section of Mark 7 that Jesus proclaims two bold, heart cutting truths.

TRUTH 1: Self-righteousness is actually wickedness disguised (v.1-13)

The pharisees start out by questioning Jesus, which is never good but we do it all the time. They felt, often like us, that since what they are seeing/hearing doesn’t line up with what they think that Jesus must be wrong. Jesus had something to say about this but it may not be what you would think. Jesus tells them that there is a HUGE DIFFERENCE between self-righteousness and God-given righteousness. They had made their traditions equal to and even about the commandment of God. Their righteousness was no longer about God but about them—about what they could do. That is not righteousness—that is wickedness.

Look at what Jesus said, “You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men. And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition.”

Self-righteousness, which is really pride, is often masquaraded by spirituality. We look good to ourselves and to everyone else, but God sees us for what we really are… wicked and sinful. Of course we are to live righteously in our actions but not while trying to impress God (really looking at ourselves) but while living to please Him (looking at Him). We have to lay down self-righteousness and look at Jesus, who gives us true righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21)

TRUTH 2: The problem is not primarily what we do but who we are (v.14-23)

Look at verses 21-23:

“For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, ency, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, they defile a person.”

Jesus hits on the reason why the pharisees ran to self righteousness. They thought, as we often do, that the primary problem, the primary reason we have separation from God is because of what we do. But that is not what Jesus says. He says that these things come from within. That would mean that the primary rift between us and God is not what we do but who we are.

Often we live like “God is good. I am doing good. Therefore we are good.” But this does not address the sinful heart condition that we as humans have. We, to our core, more than what we do, are sinful, wicked, and in need of a savior.

That is why Jesus came. Not just to change what we do - mere behavior modification. He came to change who we are - heart modification.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold, the new has come.”  2 Corinthians 5:17

“Create in me a clean heart Oh God and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

Ask God to show you how you are looking to yourself for righteousness. Make the choice today to look to Him, look at His word, and obey. Ask Him for continued heart change that will lead to a change in actions.

By: Nick Parsons


Marc - January 12th, 2021 at 5:05am

Great insight and reminder this morning Nick!

Nick Parsons - January 12th, 2021 at 9:46am

Thanks!! Praying God used it in your life!

Molly - January 12th, 2021 at 5:47am

That was really good Nick. “God is good. I’m doing good. Therefore we are good.” Behavior modification versus heart modification.

I had an encounter yesterday where where I was left with amazed by the foolishness coming out of this person’s mouth and her whole approach to life. As I reflect on this, MY attitude in response was very much like the Pharisees, self righteous and looking at this person’s obvious flaws. Rather, I should be praying for her a heart change and not let her foolishness and arrogance give me permission to have a self righteous response.

Nick Parsons - January 12th, 2021 at 9:47am

Yes! We are more like them than we would want to admit. Convicting and challenging.

Jordan Hampton - January 12th, 2021 at 5:58am

Something I've found helpful is to ask God to reveal the root of sin, not just the external fruit. Thankful for you Nick!

Nick Parsons - January 12th, 2021 at 9:47am

Yes! Thanks Jordan!

Korbet Finley - January 12th, 2021 at 5:58am

Temptation calls for you to rely on your own works and wisdom. As believers, we can subscribe to the testimony, "When my foot slipped, Your mercy, O Lord, held me up!"

Appreciate the reminder today!

Nick Parsons - January 12th, 2021 at 9:48am

Yes! I love how Jesus wants our behavior to adjust as well but our heart adjusts our actions... our actions don't truly adjust our heart.

Tim Parsons - January 12th, 2021 at 6:51am

Very convicting passage. When I analyze the list Jesus gives, I have to confess that I see tendencies of several of these things in my heart. I’m going to focus on getting them out. I agree Nick, it’s extremely dangerous when we equate man-made rules with God-given ones. Self righteous and pride flow from this. Great job Nick!

Nick Parsons - January 12th, 2021 at 9:48am

Yes! Very convicting to see how we do some of the same things!

Lindsay R Crawford - January 12th, 2021 at 7:44am

Such a good delineation of today's scripture, Nick! How easy it is to fall back into old ways of self reliance. Lord, help me to always know in my heart what my source of everything is. God my life and salvation.

Nick Parsons - January 12th, 2021 at 9:49am

Yes! Thank you Lindsay!

Tim Hamilton - January 12th, 2021 at 8:36am

It's not the outside of the cup, but the inside. Well done Nick!

Nick Parsons - January 12th, 2021 at 9:50am

Thanks Tim! Praying all is well with you!

Scottie Frans - January 12th, 2021 at 9:27am

The Bible says in Matthew that if you lust after a woman in your heart, you have already committed adultery. In 1 John, it says if you hate your brother, you are a murderer. The Bible is clear in multiple passages that even though the physical act isn’t committed, the sin is still there because of the heart issues. Hard passage to hear, and definitely convicting. Thanks Nick for breaking this down and pointing out this truth to us! Thankful for a church that isn’t afraid to say what needs to be said, even if it’s hard to hear. It’s the only way we will grow and continue in our journey of sanctification, becoming more like Christ!

Nick Parsons - January 12th, 2021 at 9:50am

Amen to that! To be loving is to be truthful and vice versa - in loving ways of course ;) Thankful for you Scottie!

Nick Parsons - January 12th, 2021 at 9:52am

What was convicting for me today is when Jesus tells them, "in vain do they worship me." (v.7). We so often do these things out of the idea of being more spiritual... but its in vain. I love how Jesus laid out in Matthew 22 the commandment to love God and love others. Thus the law is fulfilled and Jesus is our first love. Nothing more spiritual than that yet we think that there are things that are more! Crazy!

Tyler Short - January 12th, 2021 at 11:00am

What hits me in this passage is the Syrophoenician (thanks copy and paste) woman. Any parent would do anything for their child. But this Gentile woman approached in humility and faith and Jesus moved. She is the exact opposite in look and demeanor of the religious elites. Sooo many times in the gospels these stories bump up against each other---the ones who ought to know better and the ones who respond properly despite their standing, look, or ethnicity. This is convicting for me, not only to approach Jesus in humility, but also that those whom we serve---and their worth---is not measured by externals.

Norma White - January 12th, 2021 at 2:24pm

I am enjoying the commentaries for the book of Mark!

Emily Lavender - January 12th, 2021 at 4:20pm

Thanks for this reminder today!!

Sara Stafford - January 12th, 2021 at 8:28pm

Great reminder today that it’s true heart change we are after!!!! Thanks Nick!

Reva Lavender - January 12th, 2021 at 8:48pm

Wow-looks like I need a heart check! Thanks Nick!

TK Hellard - January 12th, 2021 at 10:35pm

Thanks Nick! Praise the Lord

Paul Dame - January 20th, 2021 at 11:43am

Interesting commentary. Certainly the heart is where Jesus' focus is because it is from our sin nature that our need for a savior even exists. Verse 20-23 clearly states, that is where our evil comes from and it affects our actions. It is our actions (our sin) that "defiles" (separates) us from God but Jesus righty identifies those actions as being initiated in the heart. The failure of the Pharisees was to think traditions and washing of the outer body had any impact of the purity of their lives. In fact , because they performed these traditions not to honor God but to glorify themselves, these traditions, though good - there is nothing wrong with washing your hands before you eat, had become sinful. Those "traditions" became a method of purification which they could accomplish through their own efforts. However, Jesus made the point that no physical action we preform can cleanse our heart. If it could, we would have no need for a savior, just a regular bath would do.

Get The App

Stay connected and get the latest content.

Download The App