14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 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.”
17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
In the name of Jesus. Amen.
What is wrong with the world? We have seen our country celebrate a man mutilate himself in his desire to become a woman. The highest court in our land decided that homosexual relationships can be called ‘marriage.’ Last week, millions if not billions of hard-earned dollars were wiped out as the stock markets crumbled. We have viewed the horror of babies being ripped from their mothers’ wombs only to be torn apart, chopped up, and sold for their organs and tissue. On Wednesday, a reporter and her cameraman were shot to death in cold blood on live television. Shortly after the murders, the shooter released a video showing his first-person view of the horrifying scene. Friday night, a Houston police officer was shot execution-style after he had pumped gas into his patrol car. What is wrong with the world?
The world’s problem is not the transgenders, the homosexuals, the Supreme Court, or China. The world’s problem is not the Republicans, Democrats, the abortionists, criminals, or murderers. So what is wrong with the world? G. K. Chesterton hit the nail on the head several decades ago. Supposedly, the London Times once asked several writers and philosophers, “What is wrong with the world?” Chesterton replied in the briefest of letters. “Dear Sir, I am.”
The words of our Lord, “From within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within.”
The problem with the world is me. And I hope and pray that you, in all honesty, can say the same. The evil in the world is not something outside of us, something that we can hunt down and destroy. The evil in the world is what is inside of us. It is, in fact, us. Our hearts, our minds, our thoughts, our actions are the problem. I am, we are, “by nature sinful and unclean.” I have, we have, “sinned against [God] by thought, word, and deed” by the evil we have done and by the good we have left undone.
Nothing outside of you defiles you. Whatever goes into you goes out again. What you put into yourself passes through you and goes into the toilet. Yes, Jesus uses bathroom talk here. There is nothing you can put into yourself that makes you defiled. Nothing. So, why does God find fault with you, since nothing you have put into yourself makes you defiled? God finds fault with you and with me because we are sinners. You and I are sinners, but not because we do sinful things. You and I do sinful things because we are sinners. We are unclean because we are unclean – sinful from the time we are conceived.
The source of your problem is your heart. Your heart, my heart, is an idol factory. Your heart, my heart, is the source of sin. Because of our hearts, we are finally brought to a deserved death. Our hearts separate us from God and defile us.
So often today, the advice is given, “Follow your heart,” or you hear people say, “I just need to follow my heart.” That is the worst advice you can give and the worst thing you can do. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick” (Jer. 17:9). The world is in the shape that it is in precisely because we have followed our hearts. We have done what it in us, and we reap the evil fruit of the wickedness we have sown. We are the problem. We are what is wrong with the world.
Praise be to God that Jesus has come into the world. In Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself. Jesus entered into the evil dominion we have made this world. He didn’t shy away from touching the unclean and defiled. He didn’t shrink back from those who were possessed with wickedness. He didn’t avoid evil and sin; instead, He became sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21). In Christ, God entered into the world that we have defiled in order to redeem and to sanctify, to make holy, what we have made damnable.
When we see all the the things that are wrong with this world, we are tempted to ask God, “Why did You allow this evil?” God will simply not answer that question. His thoughts and ways are too far above us. Do not ask God, “Why did You allow evil to happen?” Instead when you see all the tings that are wrong with this world, ask, “God what are You going to do with that evil?” because that question is answered already.
God has pierced that evil, that sin, and all the problems of this world in Jesus’ hands and feet. God has drowned our evil in the blood of Jesus and buried it in His tomb (Rev. Fiene). When we see the mess we have made of this world, God points us to Jesus on the cross and says, “Look. That evil you have made, that defilement you have brought to the world, that uncleanness you have within you, look. I am here defeating it.”
Jesus takes your defiled heart of stone and throws it in the trash where it belongs. He washes you clean in His blood and makes you a new creation. Then, He turns around and gives you a new heart, a heart of flesh. A heart that longs for the forgiveness, mercy, and righteousness that comes through God speaking to you and creating you anew. He runs to you and throws His loving arms around you. He makes a feast celebrating His own love and mercy for you. And He promises that you have a seat at His feast at the marriage supper of the Lamb who was slain, a seat in the eternal kingdom of His new creation. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.