15 May Mark 18: The heart of the problem
Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”
6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” 9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
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.”
Let me start with questions. How many of you wash your hands after using the bathroom? Raise your hand. How many of you wash your hands only when there is someone else in the bathroom? Don’t raise your hands. Our passage for today is a debate on hand washing. Mark records a heated debate between Jesus and the religious leaders on hand washing. When you read it, it is easy to assume, “Well this is not relevant for us. We know that we must wash our hands a lot. It is one of the surest ways to kill all the germs in our hands. And who cares about the Jews’ clean and unclean laws anyway?” If we think that way, we are wrong. This passage is one of the rare teaching contents in the book of Mark. Unlike Matthew, Luke and John, Mark’s accounts of Jesus hardly have any teaching content. Mark is more interested in letting his readers know Jesus through what Jesus does. So, for Mark to record this teaching means that he thinks it is very important. And it is. Jesus never picked an unnecessary fight. Jesus never debated something that is not important. On the surface, it looks like it is a simple debate on hand washing. But it is far more than that. What Jesus is addressing in this passage is revolutionary. This passage deals with the question, “What is the heart of all the problems we see in the world?”
This is the universal question that everyone is asking. You don’t have to be a Christian to ask this question. Everyone knows instinctively that there is something wrong with the world. I woke up a few months ago, opened my iPad and found out that the Taliban had taken over Afghanistan. Then, a few weeks later, Russia bombed Ukraine. And there are tens of thousands of refugees who suffered because of it. Then I read the news on how the police found parts of the body of a missing woman. And if we studied modern history at school, we learned that Hitler murdered 6 million Jews. We learned how the African Americans were sold as slaves and treated as properties. This is not right. So, we ask, “What is the cause of all the problems we see in this world?”
Let me make it more personal for us. What is the root cause of people hurting one another? What is the root cause of a husband sleeping with another woman or a wife leaving her family for another man? What is the root cause of people in the community clashing with one another? What is the root cause of brothers and sisters cannot forgive each other? What is the root cause of people gossiping about each other? What is the root cause of business partners backstabbing one another? And let me tell you the most common answer. We are convinced that whatever is wrong with the world, whatever created this mess, it’s not us. It is something out there. It is probably him or her. But it is not us. We are just a victim of this corrupted world. The world is filled with brokenness, and other people are broken as well. But not us. We are okay. And if we are broken, it is because of others. I mean, we hear this all the time. We hear people who made a big mess in their life being interviewed saying, “The reason I am like this is because I was abandoned when I was young. Or I was abused. Or I grew up in a bad neighbourhood.” We always find excuses for our brokenness and the reason for it is always outside of us. “The problem is my parents. It is my community. It is my church. They are the problem. The world is the problem. I am just a victim.” This train of thought is very popular in Jesus’ days. This is what the religious leaders believe as well. But Jesus disagrees strongly with them. In this passage, Jesus tells the religious leaders that they get it all wrong all this time. Let’s look at it together.
I have four points for this sermon: Universal problem; Wrong solution; Radical diagnosis; Supernatural solution.
Mark 7:1-5 – Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”
When we read the text, the question that comes to mind is, “Why made such a big deal about hand washing?” Right? But it is a big deal for the Jews. The issue of handwashing is not a matter of hygiene. It is a matter of defilement and religious ritual cleansing. In the Old Testament, you were not allowed to enter the place of worship if you were unclean. If you were in contact with dirt, disease, or decay, you must clean yourself first before you can worship God. So, a priest had to wash their hands and feet before they came into the temple. That’s the law of God. However, the law does not say that people had to wash their hands before they eat. But what the religious leaders do is they apply those specific commands for priests to everyone. And before long, everyone must wash their hands in a certain way even though there is never a command in God’s word for everyone to do it. And the religious leaders are not accusing the disciples of breaking the law of God. They are upset because the disciples are breaking the tradition of the elders.
Let me explain. If you are not familiar with Pharisees and scribes, think of them as today’s equivalent of pastors. They love the law of God. They have a very high view of the 10 commandments. They dedicated their lives to studying and applying the law of God in daily life. They are the GOATs of religion. Sounds good right? Here lies the problem. Some of the laws of God are very generic. They are not specific and detailed enough to have direct everyday applications. Let me give you an example. The fourth commandment: Keep the Sabbath day holy. The Pharisees look at this commandment and think, “Hang on, this is very unclear. What does it mean to keep the Sabbath day holy? Okay, you cannot work on Sabbath. But what is considered work? Is walking considered work? How far can you walk before it is considered work?” Can you see what happened? In their attempt to keep the law of God, they concluded that they need other laws that explain the dos and don’ts of the law of God more explicitly. These additional laws came to be known as the tradition of the elders, or Mishnah.
Let me share with you some of the traditions of the elders concerning the Sabbath. You cannot look at yourself in the mirror on Sabbath day because if you look at the mirror and see grey hair, you might be tempted to pull it out. And if you do, you perform work on Sabbath. Another one. You cannot wear your false teeth on Sabbath day because if they fall out you would have to pick them up and thus you perform work on Sabbath. Now, can you see how ridiculous they are? These are just two examples out of thousands. These traditions are known as fences around the law. And they have their good purposes. For example, if your mom tells you, “Don’t play on the road because it is dangerous. Stick to the front yard,” you have to think, “Hmmm… what is considered the road? Are 10 steps from the front door considered the road? Is it 20 or 30?” It is unclear. But if you put fences to separate the front yard and the road, then it is clear. You don’t have to second guess your mom anymore. This is what the tradition of the elders is meant to do. It supposes to give you fences around the law. It is not a bad thing.
Here is why I am telling you all of this. The Pharisees and the scribes are not bad people. Far from it. They are good people who dedicated their lives to doing the right thing. What they try to do is a very good thing. They don’t want to break the law of God. However, they get it all wrong. Terribly wrong. Because they started with the wrong premise. They think that what is wrong with the world is out there. They think the road is the problem. And therefore, the solution is to build fences. The more fences they have, the safer they are. But parents, how many of you know that those fences won’t stop your children from playing on the road? They will just climb over the fences to get to the road. This is what Jesus is getting at. The Pharisees thought the solution is to build fences to stop people from playing on the road. Jesus says, “No fences can stop people from playing on the road.” Because the problem is not out there. The problem is something else altogether. And no fences can stop us from breaking the law of God.
So here is what you and I know instinctively. There is something wrong. People disagree on what the wrong is, but we all agree that there is something wrong with the world. Jesus does not shy away from it. He makes it abundantly clear that all of us have some sense of defilement. The Pharisees complain to Jesus about why his disciples do not wash their hands before they eat. Their hands are defiled. It is part of the tradition of the elders to wash hands, and even take bath, every time they get back home from the outside. Sounds like my mom somehow. But the reason behind washing hands and taking bath is because they believe that the world is polluted. The marketplace is corrupted and dirty. But the Jews are different. The Jews are God’s chosen people. Therefore, they ought to be clean. So, before they come in contact and have fellowship with other Jews, they would wash their hands and take a bath to clean themselves first. And this is common sense, right? How many of you take shower before you come to church? Raise your hand. How many of you don’t? You don’t need to raise your hand. We know. We can smell it.
It is common sense to clean yourself before you meet other people. Especially if that someone is a very important person. Guys, what do you do before that big date with that pretty girl? If you are a chef, you don’t go to that date straight from work with the smell of bacon all over you. You don’t do that. Do you know what you do? You go home, take shower for 15 minutes, rub that soap all over your body, floss your teeth, spray cologne on your wrist and neck, put on some nice clothes, and wax your hair. Then you look at the mirror and say, “You handsome fine dude.” You want to look clean and nice. And this is what the Pharisees try to do. And this is God’s intention as well. We cannot find laws of God about washing hands before eating but we find many laws of God that require priests to wash before they come into the presence of God. God is saying that he wants us to be clean. He does not want us to come before him dirty. We can’t just come to the presence of God however we like.
Here is the universal problem: all of us are dirty and we know it. We know something is wrong. We can’t run away from it. However, we fix it the wrong way. We try to clean ourselves from the outside in. So, we try our best to make ourselves feel clean. We try to be a better version of ourselves. We try to be very religious, to become good Christians. We try to be the best friend, the best husband, the best wife, son, daughter, employer, employee, the best pastor we know-how. But none of it can make us feel clean. It is like a man who wears clean clothes from top to bottom. He wears the best shirt, suit, tie, and shoes. He waxes his hair, and he puts on lots of cologne. But he can’t get rid of the sense of dirtiness on him. He stinks. Why? Because despite all the clean clothes, despite the hair product and cologne, the man has not showered for a month. It does not matter what he wears, he always feels dirty. Unless he takes shower. But to take shower is to recognize that the problem is not out there. The problem is far closer than he thinks. And this is what Jesus is getting at. The Pharisees know that there is something wrong. But they have the wrong premise. They think the problem is out there and therefore the solution is outside in. And it is not going to work.
Mark 7:6-13 – 6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” 9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
These are strong words from Jesus. Jesus calls the religious leaders of his days, hypocrites. Why? Because they totally miss the point. Imagine me telling Cristiano Ronaldo that he does not know anything about soccer. Imagine me telling Michael Jordan that he does not know anything about basketball. Imagine me telling BTS that they do not know anything about singing and dancing. Imagine me telling Tim Keller that he does not know anything about preaching the gospel. This is what Jesus is doing. Jesus is telling the GOATs of religion that they do not know anything about God. They say that they worship God with their mouth. They say that they love God. They say that they are God’s number one supporters. But their heart is far from God. Instead of teaching the commandment of God, they elevate the tradition of men above the commandment of God. Notice what Jesus is not saying. Jesus is not saying that the tradition of the elders is wrong. Jesus is not against tradition. Jesus is against empty tradition that is exalted above the commandments of God. Tradition is not bad. Tradition becomes bad when we put them on the same level as Scripture or in place of Scripture. When we do, we totally miss the point.
So here is what happened. There was originally nothing wrong with the tradition of the elders. However, as time goes by, this tradition became more and more sacred to the point that it is considered the law of God. They are no longer fences around the law, but the fences have become the law. In fact, it got so bad that the tradition of the elders became more important than the law of God. The Pharisees and the scribes have elevated the tradition of the elders to the point that it is okay to break the commandment of God in order to keep the tradition of the elders. They have substituted the fences around the law for the law itself. And Jesus is not happy about it. He confronts them on their hypocrisy. How can the tradition of the elders carry more weight than the law of God it is supposed to protect? In fact, tradition becomes an excuse to disobey the law.
Jesus then gives one example of their hypocrisy. The law of God says to honour your father and your mother. It means the adult Jews are expected to support and take care of their parents when they are old. But the tradition of the elders says that if they vow to give their money to God, then they no longer have to support their parents. The word for it is “Corban.” People who want to hold on to their possessions would dedicate them as Corban to God, meaning as long as they are alive, they could enjoy and use those possessions however they want. Then after they died, those possessions would belong to the temple. So, if people do not want to provide for their aging parents, they can say to their parents, “Dad, Mom, I know I should honour you and take care of you. But I have dedicated my bank account to God. I know I have the financial means to help you, but all my wealth is Corban. I would love to take care of you, but I can’t.” Do you see what happened? The command of God to honour parents is made void because of the tradition of the elders. And this is just one example of many.
Don’t miss it. There is an important lesson here for us. Every time we add to the law of God, we inevitably subtract from it. We begin to major in the minors. And before we ridicule the religious leaders for missing the point, we need to see our own hearts. Because we are extremely prone to put our tradition above the word of God. We are often guilty of the very same thing, and we don’t even see it. Let me give you one example: religious activities. As Christians, the Bible tells us that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Our salvation is not dependent on our performance but on Jesus’ perfect performance for us. But as we grow in maturity, we are starting to have more fences. And that’s a good thing. So, we stay away from dirty movies. We stay away from profane activities. We stay away from bad companies. We read the Bible every day at 5 AM. We fast every Saturday. And those fences really help us grow in our walk with God. But then if we are not careful, we begin to make those fences become the law. We expect everyone to follow our fences and we question the faith of those who don’t. We make our fences the standard of good Christians and we become very prideful. We forget that salvation is by grace alone. We forget how to be gracious and kind to one another. Do you see what happened? We miss the point. We elevated the fences above the law. We think we are worshipping God, but we are not. Our hearts are far from God. It doesn’t matter how hard we try, we cannot do all these things on the outside and expect them to affect the inside. Our problem cannot be fixed with external activities. Because Jesus tells us that our problem is not external but internal. We need to beware of the dangerous tendency that resides in all of us to major in the minors. We hold tightly to our fences and as a result, we reject the commandment of God.
Mark 7:14-23 – 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.”
Don’t miss it. This is what separates Christianity from every other religion in the world. Up to this time, all the Jews think that it is what is on the outside that defiles them. But then Jesus comes along and says, “It is not what goes inside of you that defiles you. There is nothing outside of you that can defile you.” This is revolutionary. Just think about it. What happens when you eat food? You put it in your mouth, you chew it about 30 times if you are being good, and then you swallow it. Then your stomach digests the food, and it will expel the food the next day. Correct? Some of you have turbo digestion and the food needs to be expelled immediately. What comes in, ultimately comes out. It does not defile you. Then Mark makes this very important parenthesis, “Thus he declared all foods clean.” And every non-halal people in this place say “amen.” You must love this short line. This is the reason we can eat pork belly today and praise God for it.
Then Jesus continues. “What defiles you is not what goes inside of you. What defiles you is what comes out of you.” In another word, Jesus is saying, “Let me tell you the heart of the problem. The problem is not what’s out there but what’s in you. The heart of the problem is the problem of the heart. It is your heart that defiles you.” Boom! Jesus drops the mic. Jesus turns the equation upside down. We always assume that it is what’s out there that defiles us. For example, parents like to tell their children, “Don’t be friends with the wrong crowd because it will make you bad. Don’t go to clubs because it will corrupt you.” And there is a grain of truth to it. Bad friendship and clubbing can be harmful to us. But here comes Jesus and he says that bad friendship does not make us bad. Clubbing does not corrupt us. Bad friendship pulls out the dirt in us, but it does not make us dirty. Clubbing reveals the corruption in us, but it does not make us corrupt. We are already dirty and corrupt. Because the problem is not out there, the problem is inside of us. Our problem is not what we do; our problem is our heart. Our heart is defiled and that is why what comes out of us is defilement. We do not become a sinner because we sin. We sin because we are a sinner.
And as long as we still have a defiled heart, it does not matter what we do, what comes out of us is always defilement. It is like trying to escape our own shadow. No matter how fast we run, we cannot escape our own shadow. No matter how hard we try, we can’t make even 1-millimetre progress to distance ourselves from our shadow. Yet a lot of times, we try to fix the symptoms rather than the disease. We look at our problems and say, “I have a lust problem. I have an anger issue. I have an addiction. I need to fix my problem.” So, we do our best to modify our behaviours. We try our best to control ourselves. We try our best to be good. But it is not working. Why? Because we are only treating the symptoms. We are not dealing with the root of the problem. No one can make us stop sinning because it comes from within us. As long as our heart is sinful, sin comes naturally to us. The tradition of the elders fails to address the problem of the heart. No matter how many times we wash our hands on the outside, we can’t make ourselves clean on the inside.
Then Jesus lists out different sins that come out of the heart. Let’s just do the first one: evil thoughts. Listen. No one can make us think evil thoughts toward anyone. No one. And some of you will say, “Yos, you do not know my husband. Yos, you have not seen my wife during that time of the month. Yos, you don’t know my crazy mother-in-law. You don’t know my sibling. You don’t know my housemate. I am telling you. I am a very patient person. But they just know how to push my button. They are crazy. If you know them, then you know they can make you think evil thoughts.” Granted, people do crazy things that annoy us. People can hurt and betray us. I give you that. But listen. It does not matter what they do, no one control what’s in our mind but us. We are the ones who are killing them softly in our minds. We are the one who keeps replaying the things they did that hurt us in slow motion. No one can do that in our minds but us. We want to blame others, but Jesus won’t have it. Jesus says that all those evil thoughts come from our hearts. Can you see what happened? We like to play the blame game. We like to blame things out there for our sins. However, Jesus says that we have no one to blame but ourselves. Whatever our problem is, the real issue is not with our relationship, our marriage, our addiction, our anger, our lust etc. They are just symptoms. The main problem is not what we do but what makes us do what we do. The problem with us is our hearts are dirty and corrupt. Therefore, what we need is a new clean heart. And this is a big problem. Because it means that there is absolutely nothing we can do to fix our problem on our own.
If the heart of the problem is the problem of the heart, then what we need is a new heart. The question is, how do we have a new heart? Good question. I’m glad you asked. Mark does not give us the full answer in this passage, but he does give us a hint to the answer. Mark, unlike Matthew, Luke and John, hardly gives us his editorial comments. Thus, when Mark does it, we need to pay attention to it. In this passage, Mark just makes a little comment, “Thus he declared all foods clean” (Verse 19). We often take this short line for granted. We don’t understand how radical this is for the Jews. Let me give you an example. A few years later, Peter, one of the leading apostles, has a vision from God. In the vision, he sees pork belly, pork ribs, bacon, and many other non-halal meats come down from heaven. And then he hears God says to him, “Eat, Peter. Enjoy heavenly pork belly.” Do you know what Peter says? “Lord, I can see this pork belly falls from heaven. I can smell the heavenly smell. And I know you are telling me to eat it. But I won’t do it. I won’t eat it. I have never eaten anything unclean, and I will not start.” And God replies, “Peter, do not call anything unclean that I have made clean.” And you would think that Peter would immediately eat it after hearing God’s reply. But he doesn’t. It happens three times and he still has not eaten it. Can you see how strong this statement that Mark makes?
Jesus is not saying, “You know what? That law I made about not eating pork, they are just ridiculous. I realize now how delicious pork is. So, don’t worry about that law. From now on, you can eat as much pork as you want.” Jesus cannot say that. Do you know why? Because Jesus has a very high view of the law of God. The Pharisees have a very high view of the law of God. That’s why they created fences around the law. But Jesus has an even higher view of the law of God than the Pharisees. Matthew 5:17-18 – “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Did you hear that? Jesus cannot and will not abolish any part of the law. Not an iota, not a dot. That means that the only reason we can eat pork today is because the law has been fulfilled. All the cleansing law has been fulfilled by Jesus.
Listen to the promise of God in Ezekiel 36:25-27 – 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. This is God’s solution to the heart of the problem. There is nothing we can do to clean our hearts but God himself will do it for us. See how God says “I will” over and over again. “I will cleanse from all you uncleannesses. I will give you a new heart and a new spirit. I will remove your dirty hearts and give you a new heart that loves me and my commandments. I will put the Holy Spirit within you. And I will enable you to obey my commandments.” This is the only solution to the problem of the heart. There is nothing we can do to fix our hearts. God is the only one who can. And he promised that he would. And he fulfils his promises through Jesus.
What happened to Jesus? Jesus is the only person with a clean heart. Jesus is the only one who is not defiled by sin. He is the only one who perfectly obeyed all of God’s commandments. Jesus fulfilled the law of God with his life. Every single dot and iota. But Jesus died at the cross. At the cross, Jesus was stripped naked. He was beaten, mocked, spat, and killed. Why? Because at the cross, Jesus was clothed in our sins and dirt. At the cross, Jesus took our sinful hearts, and he was judged by God for it. So that when we put our faith in Jesus, we might receive a new heart that loves God and wants to obey God’s commandments. Jesus became sin so that in Jesus we might become righteous and clean. Our hearts are cleansed because Jesus died for us and give us a new heart that loves and fears God. This is the gospel.
Friends, get this. If the heart of the problem is the problem of the heart, then the gospel is the only cure. Religion is always outside in. But the gospel is inside out. We cannot clean our hearts from the outside in. No law and no fence can clean our hearts. It is not what’s on the outside that defiles us but what’s on the inside. What we need is a new heart. What we need is the gospel. The gospel changes us from the inside out. The gospel is that Jesus took our sinful hearts and paid for them fully at the cross so that he can give us a new clean heart that loves God. It is not something we can earn or achieve on our own. It is something we can only receive freely by grace. If we believe this, if we believe the gospel, then what comes out of us is no longer defilement. To the degree we know and rejoice in the gospel, to that degree our heart is healed. The more we rejoice in the gospel, the more our heart is renewed. So, what comes out of us is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The question is, have you received a new heart that only God can give? Because it is the only cure to your problems. Let’s pray.
- What are “fences around the law”? Give some daily life examples of fences around the law.
- Explain both the good and the danger of fences around the law.
- What is so radical about Jesus’ diagnosis of our problems? How is it different from every other religion in the world?
- What is the difference between outside-in and inside-out cleansing? Can you see the tendency in you to do outside-in? Give examples.
- Look at the list of sins in Mark 7:21. Choose one or two and show how these sins originated from a sinful heart.
- “If the heart of the problem is the problem of the heart, then the gospel is the only cure.” Explain.