Focal passage: Mark 7:5-15
The Pharisees were constantly trying to condemn Jesus by using their preferences and traditions against the Him, a Man whom they knew nothing about.
Mark 7:5 shows the Pharisees clearly knew that some commands came from traditions and not scripture: “And the Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders …” (Mark 7:5).
They believed they were more devoted to God than others and, consequently, looked down on those around them.
Jesus warned them against replacing God’s commands with rules and traditions they had created.
He regarded their offerings to God as futile because they neglected and twisted God’s commands by using their own.
“‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” (Mark 7:7, 9).
Jesus calls the Pharisees and everyone present to a higher standard.
“There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him” (Mark 7:15). What our Lord points out is the importance of our heart’s condition, that only the Holy Spirit can change.
Are there times when this is true of us? Do we attend church, give generously, participate in ministry or read our Bibles, but our hearts are far from God?
Do we boast about our Savior to the lost, but carry bitterness and deceit, or give our hearts away to preferences and traditions? The Good News is that Jesus’ death and resurrection provide the power to overcome our sinful hearts.
We can steward that power well by examining our hearts, repenting and asking the Spirit to rid us of the Pharisee within us.