The Messiah Teaches What Defiles a Man

(Matt 15:1-20) Introduction: there are and always have been two basic religions in the world. There is the religion that stresses the outside and the religion that stresses the inside.

    External religion says be physically and morally clean. Internal religion says be spiritually regenerated and made into a new creature.

    External religion says that if a person keeps the outside clean then the inside will be clean. Internal religion says that if a person is clean on the inside then he will keep the outside clean.

    External religion develops a system of laws to govern behavior. Internal religion behaves out of a heart of love and respect for God and man.

    External religion says be faithful to religion (the church) and its practices and moral teachings and you will be clean. Internal religion says be cleansed within by Christ and you will be faithful to the church and live justly.

    External religion is a man-made religion of ritual, ceremony, laws, and works. Internal religion is God’s religion based upon His Son Jesus Christ who changes or recreates the heart of man. This act of recreation gives man a new heart, a heart that reaches out to both God and man in love and respect.

The conflict between these two religions is the conflict that was being waged between Christ and the religionists of His day.

Through the years, the Jewish religion, in an attempt to keep man religiously and morally clean, had come up with thousands upon thousands of rules and regulations governing man’s behavior. A section of these had to do with keeping oneself physically clean by washing with water. One of the rules said that a person had to wash his hands before eating a meal. The disciples apparently had failed to wash their hands before eating some meal; therefore, they had broken the tradition of the church and embarrassed the religious faithful of their day. Jesus was asked about the matter. He answered by charging the religionists with breaking God’s law in order to keep the traditions of their religion. And He gave them an example:

“God says, ‘Honor thy father and mother.’ But your tradition says that once a person vows to give a gift to the temple, he can never back out of the vow, even if he later needs the gift to take care of his parents.”

Christ is saying, “I am not the law breaker, the hypocrite. You are. You are the one who is breaking God’s law. You put your own rule above the law of God.” Matthew 12:1-8; Matthew 12:10; Mark 7:1-13; Luke 6:2

Note that Christ used this occasion to teach one of the most important messages in Scripture: “What Defiles a Man.”

1. There were three audiences (Matt 15:1).

2. A traditional religion defiles (Matt 15:2-9).

3. A foul mouth defiles (Matt 15:10-11).

4. A blind spirit defiles (Matt 15:12-14).

5. A corrupt heart defiles Matt 15:15-20).

1. (Matthew 15:1) Jesus Christ, Teaching: Jesus addressed three different audiences with a different lesson to each.

1. The religionists are told that a traditional religion defiles (Matt 15:1).

2. The multitude is told that a foul mouth defiles (Matthew 15:10-11).

3. The disciples are told that a blind spirit (Matthew 15:12-14) and a corrupt heart defiles (Matthew 15:15-20).

2. (Matthew 15:2-9) Religion— Tradition: the first thing that defiles a man is a traditional religion. Note four points.

1. The audience was religionists, Scribes and Pharisees. They were a special delegation sent by the religious leaders from Jerusalem, the religious capital, to question Jesus. They came for one of two reasons: they were either genuinely perplexed by Jesus and needed to determine if He was the true Messiah (cp. Nicodemus, John 3:1f), or they were extremely disturbed by the news of Jesus’ success and they feared losing the loyalty of the people. Therefore, they were setting out to trap and stop Christ Matthew 12:1-8; Matthew 12:10).

2. The charge against Jesus was that He broke tradition.

Thought 1. Religious people are often disturbed when their traditions, rituals, ceremonies, worship, rules, schedules, and habits are broken. Some become very disturbed.

3. The charge of Jesus was that the religionists broke God’s law in order to keep their tradition. Christ gave an illustration which is difficult for us to understand in our day. Here are two translations that help.

“But you say, ‘Whoever shall say to his father or mother, “Anything of mine you might have been helped by has been given to God,” he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And thus you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition” (New American Standard Version).

“But you say, ‘Whoever tells his father or mother, “Everything I have that might be used for helping you, is devoted to God,” is under no obligation at all to help his parent’ ” (Williams. The New Testament In The Language of the People. “The Four Translation New Testament”).

Thought 1. How many of us have little rituals, prayers, habits, ceremonies, and objects that we use to keep us religiously secure? So many of us seek religious security while at the same time we neglect the weightier matter of breaking God’s Law.

4. The real transgressions or defilements are four in number Matthew 15:6-9.

3. (Matthew 15:10-11) Cursing— Tongue: the second thing that defiles a man is a foul mouth. Note that the audience was the multitude. The defilement that Jesus now discussed was common to the multitude, that is, to the general public.

What defiles a man is not what he eats and drinks. “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink” (Romans 14:17). What defiles a man is a foul mouth, a mouth full of foul words: curse words, filthy words, critical words, deceptive words, censoring words, harsh words, unkind words, uncaring words. Note: the word “defile” (koinoi PWS: 934) means to make common; to make unholy, unclean; to become polluted and defiled.

Thought 1. What comes out of a person’s mouth shows what his thoughts are. A person’s mouth reveals his mind and his world of thought.

“And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?” (Matthew 9:4).

“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21).

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

“The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity” (Psalm 94:11).

“The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord: but the words of the pure are pleasant words” (Proverbs 15:26).

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee” (Proverbs 23:7).

“The thought of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men” (Proverbs 24:9).

“Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The Lord seeth us not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth” (Ezekiel 8:12).

Thought 2. A man’s mouth pollutes and defiles him or makes him clean and holy. His mouth either confesses Christ or denies Christ (as the religionists). His words either bless God or curse God (James 3:9-10).

“O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matthew 12:34-37).

“Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness” (Romans 3:13-14).

“But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth” (Col. 3:8).

“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell” (James 3:6).

“Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the simulitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be” (James 3:9-10).

“Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings” (1 Peter 2:1).

“His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity” (Psalm 10:7).

“The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to be wise, and to do good” (Psalm 36:3).

“The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords” (Psalm 55:21).

“I said in my haste, All men are liars” (Psalm 116:11).

“They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders’ poison is under their lips” (Psalm 140:3).

“For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief” (Proverbs 24:2).

“And they will deceive every one his neighbor, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity” (Jeremiah 9:5).

4. (Matthew 15:12-14) Blindness: the third thing that defiles a man is a blind spirit. Note that the audience has switched again. This time the audience was the disciples. The point that Christ taught is an eye-opener. The disciples were extremely concerned over Christ having offended the religious delegation from Jerusalem. Jesus said very pointedly, “Even religionists can be wrong. In fact, every plant, whether religious or non-religious, that my Father has not planted shall be rooted up.”

“The religionists are not planted by my Father, so leave them alone and pay no attention to them. Let them be offended if they will. They are spiritually defiled and blinded, and they mislead the blind, all those who follow them. Both shall fall into the ditch.”

Christ was brief and to the point, but the point is clear: religionists are not born of God and they are doomed (2 Cor. 4:4). Christ said six things about persons who are wrong and defiled.

1. They are not planted by God.

2. They are to be rooted up.

3. They are to be left alone, paid no attention to.

4. They are spiritually blind.

5. They mislead the blind among men.

6. They both shall fall into the ditch.

This should be noted: Christ was not only talking about the religionists as persons, but their doctrines and traditions as well (Matthew 15:3, 6, 9).

Thought 1. Note two tragic things about religionists.

1) They are in the visible church, but they have not been planted by God (see note—•Matthew 13:1-52).

“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Cor. 11:13-15).

2) They and their man-made doctrines and traditions shall be rooted up.

Thought 2. Religionists are blind; therefore, they handle the Word of God deceitfully. Why?

“The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Cor. 4:4; cp. 2 Cor. 4:2-4).

Thought 3. Religionists are extremely blind, that is, deceived. Romans 2:17-29

Thought 4. Note that the person who is misled is also judged. He, too, falls into the ditch. A man is personally responsible. He cannot blame his blindness and ignorance nor his wrong decisions on someone else. He will not escape; He will fall into the ditch.

“But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” (6).

“And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:5).

“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).

“The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Romans 13:12).

“Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Ephes. 4:18).

“But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:11).

“They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course” (Psalm 82:5).

“The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble” (Proverbs 4:19).

5. (Matthew 15:15-20) Heart: the fourth thing that defiles a man is a corrupt heart. Christ returned to the disciples. They were again His audience; however, Peter stood in the forefront. Note: Jesus rebuked the disciples for being so slow to learn. The defilement is clearly seen. The deeds of a corrupt heart are clearly understood, yet they are so often revelled in (Matthew 15:19-20).

Excerpted and revised from The Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible

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