The Jews had strict laws to ensure cleanliness, these were laid down by Moses under God’s direction. In some ways these had become, in the time of Jesus, a ritual they tried to apply in every possible situation. However, the cleanliness fundamentals in these laws were ignored by the world until less than 200 years ago; illness and death were high as a result. Only in the 1850’s did Drs start to learn the need to practice cleanliness and not transfer diseases between patients.
However there was one good thing in those days – moral cleanliness was high – a state of things caused by the widespread reading of and respect for the Bible.
Strangely, today the opposite occurs! Physical cleanliness is all important while moral cleanliness counts for little except when there is some scandal in high places, such as in business practice or politics: then the law is applied and those involved feel self-righteous.
Our thoughts along these lines were triggered by the words of Jesus in today’s 15the chapter of Matthew. He scolded the leaders, “You hypocrites… this people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me; teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” [v.7-9] Careful Bible students will recognise he is quoting words we read last month in Isaiah [29 v.13]
Jesus then told them a parable (v.11) about how defilement is caused by what comes out of human mouths. This caused Peter to say, “explain the parable to us” and Jesus replies, “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.” [v.18-20]
The world is full of defilement today; indeed, it is often highlighted in movies and TV shows. It is remarkable that so many “enjoy” being defiled in this way. We will soon read in Jeremiah how the people of his day were morally defiled and which God caused him to condemn in the strongest words and forecast the collapse of the nation. .
In our Bible Education Centre there was an occasion when we encouraged a 16 year old lass waiting for the adjoining shop to open to come and join us in reading the Bible. We came across the word ‘adultery’ and she asked what it meant! She had never heard the word! Her ignorance is symbolic of the spiritual darkness that is stifling our world! Let us absorb God’s words into our hearts as an “injection” to help prevent our defilement