Create a Clean Heart, O God!

September 2, 2018

Pastor John Hering

The Pharisees and some of the experts in the law came from Jerusalem and gathered around Jesus. They saw some of his disciples eating bread with unclean (that is, unwashed) hands. In fact, the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they scrub their hands with a fist, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions they adhere to, such as the washing of cups, pitchers, kettles, and dining couches.  The Pharisees and the experts in the law asked Jesus, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders? Instead they eat bread with unclean hands.”

He answered them, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites. As it is written:

These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
They worship me in vain, teaching human rules as if they were doctrines.

“You abandon God’s commandment but hold to human tradition like the washing of pitchers and cups, and you do many other such things.” He continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside God’s commandment to keep your own tradition. 10 For example, Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever speaks evil of his father or mother must be put to death.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or mother, “Whatever help you might have received from me is corban”’ (which means an offering), 12 then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. 13 So you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. You do many things like that.”Mark 7 15

14 He called the crowd to him again and said, “Everyone, listen to me and understand. 15 There is nothing outside of a man that can make him unclean by going into him. But the things that come out of a man are what make a man unclean. 16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!”

17 After he had left the crowd and entered a house, his disciples asked him about this illustration. 18 He said, “Are you lacking in understanding too? Do you not understand that whatever goes into a man from the outside cannot make him unclean? 19 For it does not enter his heart but goes into his stomach and goes out of him into the latrine—in this way all foods are purified.”

20 He continued, “What comes out of a man, that is what makes a man unclean. 21 In fact, from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual sins, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, unrestrained immorality, envy, slander, arrogance, and foolishness. 23 All these evil things proceed from within and make a person unclean.”

Mark 7:1-23

This past week Joel, Amanda and Bobby were here for Luke’s baptism. It was marvelous to be able to baptize my grandson. But, J, A and B traveled down by Spirit Airlines, so they had little luggage. Joel borrowed a jacket and tie for worship and you can guess what happened.  Bobby got it dirty.  So, we’ll be taking that jacket and tie to the cleaners thanks to Bobby.  We all like to be clean. You might have even said it in your life, “Cleanliness is next to godliness!” No kidding! Being clean in the Bible is as old as dirt. No wonder both the religious leaders of Jesus’ day and Jesus himself were interested in this business about being clean. But, they had radically different view on what it means to be clean and how you get clean. We might think that being clean is easy if you have a shower or sink. But, is it?  If so, then why all the bottles of hand sanitizers, inspectors who check the corners, cupboards, counters and can opens in the industrial kitchens? Must be there’s a lot more to being clean than meets the eye? Oh, how true if we dig down to the recesses of our hearts. A clean heart is super important because we need it in order to have a connection with God and others. That’s why our prayer today is, Lord,

Create a Clean Heart in Me!

To have a heart that Loves

According to Readers Digest there are 10 rules for a cleaner home.

10 – Clean for 10 minutes every day

9 – Everything has a place – and it may be the trash can

8 – Make your bed every morning

7 – Clean your bedroom every night

6 – Have a “clutter box”

5 – Clean the kitchen after every meal

4 – Live with less

3 – Everyone should pitch in

2 – Make up your own routine to clean

1 – Clean up messes immediately,

SET APART – God didn’t give Israel 10 cleaning rules, but he did give them the 10 Commandments.  The purpose was not just to keep a clean tent and get along while traveling in the desert, but God’s commandments were designed to set God’s people apart from the neighboring nations.  Through these commandments God would help his people realize that they were not holy, and God was.  Eventually, they would come to the realization that they couldn’t keep God’s commandments perfectly, that they needed help, and they needed a Savior.

PURPOSE CHANGED: Over time the religious leaders of the day tried to get the people back on track, not by pointing them to the promised Savior, but by adding rules and regulations. Instead of using God’s law expose their shortcomings, they looked in the mirror and prided themselves in their piety and walked with a reputation that said, “If you want to get right with God, you better live as pure a life as we are.”

JESUS EXPOSES their hypocrisy in today’s lesson.

“The Pharisees and some of the experts in the law came from Jerusalem and gathered around Jesus. They saw some of his disciples eating bread with unclean (that is, unwashed) hands. In fact, the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they scrub their hands with a fist, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions they adhere to, such as the washing of cups, pitchers, kettles, and dining couches.  The Pharisees and the experts in the law asked Jesus, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders? Instead they eat bread with unclean hands.”

You see, the Pharisees got all caught up in how much water to use, how to pour it over your hands, and how to scrub your hands “Just so.“  So, Jesus’ disciples weren’t being accused of  putting food into their mouths with muddy hands and dirt under their fingernails, but they were being accused of eating with spiritually unclean hands. But, Jesus didn’t fall for it.

He answered them, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites. As it is written: These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. They worship me in vain, teaching human rules as if they were doctrines. “You abandon God’s commandment but hold to human tradition like the washing of pitchers and cups, and you do many other such things.” He continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside God’s commandment to keep your own tradition.”

Jesus calls them hypocrites because he can look into their hearts and see all the dirt there, even if the outward hands looked clean. Jesus focused on God’s demanding, “Be perfect!” inside and out. And they failed.

We certainly can’t look into anyone hearts. And God doesn’t call us to do so either. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t examine our own attitudes and motives in our own hearts. Let’s try it. When you pray before you eat do the words of invitation, “Come Lord Jesus, be our guest” roll off your tongue without any thought behind it?  Are your offerings put into the plate planned, regular, firstfruit offerings given from thankful hearts for all God has done for you, or leftovers after funding family, fun and food first? Do you wear good luck jewelry or have a hankerin’ for the horoscope with this thought, “Well, it certainly can’t hurt?” without realizing that it actually is a lack of trust in God? How are you doing on the test of your heart?  Any green-eyed greed? A little red-eyed hatred?  A little white lie? A little black mark on the grudge list? Is what you’re finding in your heart match up to what Jesus can see? Would he say about you,

“These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”

I know how you squirm when you hear the stories about surgeons leaving sponges inside of people during surgery.  But, the spiritual dirt left in our hearts puts up a barrier so that we neither desire to love or live for God. Therefore, our prayer is as the same as King David prayed,

“Create a Clean Heart, O God!”

You have come to know and believe the only way such a heart can be created is when God performs a miracle! It started when you were brought to the waters of baptism and the Holy Spirit created faith in you. Then comes the river of love from God to you when you hear his word of promise, “Your sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake” when you come to his holy supper. Just let it flow! Let Jesus’ love for you flow to create that clean heart in you so you get to return the Lord to God. And you get to show that love to others.

Transition: Having God’s love for us through faith in Jesus Christ bubbles and grows as it flows to others. Consider your relationships with friends, relatives, acquaintances and neighbors. Look, we’re about to start the football season.  You know the people in this church will wear jerseys to church and you’ll soon know who the Packer, Cowboy and Cleveland Brown (Maker Mayfield) fans are by their jerseys. Now, think about our new members and guests.  They come to church and get to know people, but when they find out that you’re also a fan of the same team they are – they will love being your friend!  Now consider the relationships you have with people outside the church (FRANs) and how they would look if you had the fellowship of faith with that person! Think how you get to love them with God’s Word of forgiveness that Creates a clean heart in them so that they….

Can Have A Heart That Lives!

The Pharisees thought they had the solution to make hearts that live. But, Jesus destroys their false ideas:

“You abandon God’s commandment but hold to human tradition like the washing of pitchers and cups, and you do many other such things.” He continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside God’s commandment to keep your own tradition. 10 For example, Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever speaks evil of his father or mother must be put to death.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or mother, “Whatever help you might have received from me is corban”’ (which means an offering), 12 then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. 13 So you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. You do many things like that.”

Let’s see if we can summarize it.  The Pharisees thought that if you touch something that is considered unclean, then your heart will become unclean. Jesus makes it clear that bacteria and germs may get into your body to make you physically ill, but it is impossible for such things to make you spiritually sick. Therefore, Jesus listed up the things that make you spiritually sick.

“evil thoughts, sexual sins, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, unrestrained immorality, envy, slander, arrogance, and foolishness. 23 All these evil things proceed from within and make a person unclean.”

Anybody here guilty of any of these sins? You all know very well that we were all born with a natural heart that is dirtier than a collage freshman’s room in the middle of the semester. By nature we hate God and our hearts are unclean! The sinful actions in our lives prove it when spouses refuse to remain faithful, when children refuse to obey, you obsess to get more money, make excuses to look good as the expense of others, wishing you had as much stuff as the guy or gal next door, l running down your co-workers behind his back. Jesus drives home the point just fine. An unclean heart produces all these loveless actions and attitudes that get in the way of a heart that lives for Jesus.

What we want is a clean heart. That’s why Jesus comes back to us with his promises. Jesus who died to pay the penalty of all our sins.  Jesus who rose again to prove that what he died for worked. Jesus who invites his dearly loved children, Come to me and I’ll give you rest.  And the best rest for your heart is this: Thank you Lord, that you created a clean heart within me! Thank you Lord for sending your Holy Spirit who washed away my sins in my baptism, who assures me of your loving forgiveness in the Lord’s Supper. Who has changed our attitudes and motives and filled us with the desire to use our time, talents, treasures and testimony to love others.

What does this look like.  You are the people who heard about a young man from Africa going to LPS that doesn’t have stuff and you help him get stuff. You donate your time and money to help people in need through the Good Samaritan fund. t You are the people who have a heart of love for others because of God has already created in you a clean heart in Christ.

I’m a grandpa now, so I guess I just better get used to my clothes getting dirtied by my grand-babies. I’m okay with that.  All I have to do is give them to June and she’ll wash them for me.  And I guess I better get used to God’s people sitting in these chairs in worship with smiles on their faces, even though your spiritual clothes got a little dirty this past week, you’re here today to have you spiritual clothes washed clean again in the blood of the Lamb, in Jesus Christ, who has and will continue to create a clean heart in you. Amen!

Recent Sermons

Kingdom Kids

Kingdom Kids

Bible Study Group

Weekly Bible Study

Rockwall_Interior_2

Worship