"Warning Lights on our Dashboard"- Matthew 15:10-20

Sunday December 9, 2018

Matthew 15:10-20

What I Practice: Self-control - I have the power through Christ to control myself.

Titus 2:11-13: For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope-the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Self-control- is all about doing the right thing and not doing the wrong thing. The dictionary defines the word self-control this way "to exercise restraint over one's own impulses, emotions, or desires." From a human perspective the lowest form of maturity is functioning out of feelings. From a biblical point of view, Christians with self-control bring their beliefs, practices, and values into conformity with the standard set by God's word-external pressures, internal inclinations and feelings notwithstanding.

Scripture: Matthew 15:10-20 10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

The Message of this Passage: At the heart of this scripture passage lies a proverb: "It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out" (Mt. 15:10). Jesus often coined short sayings or proverbs that shed light on specific situations. Here Jesus counters the Pharisees' criticism of his disciples for not following their rituals for pre-meal hand washing. Implied is a broader criticism on their part against Jesus and his disciples for not observing their rules for what one could and could not do on the Sabbath and for associating with those they viewed as unclean. This saying of Jesus about what defiles is a paradoxical proverb, meant to challenge the way we habitually look at things. Conventional wisdom, usually puts good behavior with good results. "A penny saved is a penny earned" (Prov. 11:28b). Also conventional wisdom usually puts foolish behavior with destructive results, as in the contemporary proverb: "Garbage in, garbage out." A biblical example is: "Those who trust in their riches will wither" (Prov.11:28a).

But Jesus' proverbs at times combines something we would normally view as good with not so good results. "Those who want to save their life will lose it." "Whoever wants to be first must be last." He also combines what we would view as negative with positive results. "Those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it." Our proverb from today's passage is one such paradoxical proverb. These proverbs shake up our conventional worldview and point us toward a more biblical worldview.  Which produces faithful attitudes and actions.

Jesus offers us this proverb for the same purpose that he offered it to his first century listeners. He invites us to look at our lives and do an honest heart-assessment. Our true nature and intentions are reflected by what is going in our hearts. Our hearts represent what we think, feel and act about everything that goes on around us. The way in which we communicate what is going on in our hearts is through our words. Jesus is hitting the point hard because He wants for us to understand that our hearts are what need to be examined, refined and changed in order for us to truly live a life that honors God.

Answering Interpretive Questions:

  • Out of a man’s heart proceeds many evil thoughts. What are ways that evil thoughts get into our hearts. (See Jeremiah 17:9, Galatians 5:19-21)

  • How can you tell what is stored in your heart? (See Luke 6:45)

  • God made a way for us to keep our hearts, which are desperately wicked, pure. Think about what it takes to keep your heart pure. (See John 17:17, 1 John 1:8-10)

  • Read Matthew 15:10-14. What did Jesus tell the crowd makes a person unclean?

  • The mouth is the more dominant revealer of internal pollution, because it is through our words that hatred, deception, cruelty, blasphemy and most other evils are most clearly revealed. What does your mouth reveal to you. How would others view the way you talk.

  • How did Jesus tell his disciples to feel about or respond to those who don't accept the truth?

  • Why won’t external rules and rituals, or “no amount of washing”, solve the problem? 15:11 (What is the only solution? Titus 3:5,6)

  • What is the real source of what defiles a man? 15:18,19

  • Note what is first on the list in 15:19. Why do you think Jesus started there? (See Mark 7:21,22 for another list.)

  • How did Jesus answer the Pharisees question? 15:20

  • If you believed this how would you act?

The world sees committed Christians and churches, but very little activity that can only be explained in terms of God’s activity.

Grant SchweisthalMatthew