February 17

Bible Reading: Mark 7

Mark 7:20-23, “And he said, ‘What comes out of a person is what defiles him.  For 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, and they defile a person’.”

Much attention is given in our day to the need to live in a “heart healthy” manner. Some say that it is imperative for us to eat “heart healthy” foods and maintain a “heart healthy” exercise regimen. A myriad of drugs are advertised and available to improve our heart condition. Doctors have countless procedures that they utilize to deal with a plethora of heart problems.

There is another problem of the heart that is usually left undiagnosed. And even if diagnosed, wrong treatment options are typically applied. The misdiagnosis and ineffective treatment of this heart problem is at the heart of man’s problem.

The Jews of Jesus’ day were careful to wash their hands. They washed other things too including their “cups and pitchers and copper pots” (Mark 7:4). They did so religiously and methodically. Their hand washing was done according to a carefully prescribed pattern. A particular method and exact amount of water was prescribed. These traditions were not about cleanliness (a good thing), they were a part of their religious ritual—they did such things to keep from defiling themselves (Mark 7:15,18). They supposed that the careful adherence to their religious rituals could somehow make them righteous before God.

The Great Physician diagnosed their condition (Jeremiah 17:9-10). It was far more serious than they had supposed. The heart of the problem is the heart itself. Adam sinned against God and unleashed a contagion of sin (Romans 5:12). Hereditarily, a “heart condition” has been passed on to every man (Romans 6:19).

The symptoms of the heart problem are alarming and touch on every part of our being—evil thoughts, deeds, and words flow forth from the heart in a myriad of damning and ugly vices. Dishonoring to God and destructive to others, a sin-contagion flows from the heart and infects the whole being. No amount of religious effort can restrain it. And man has tried them all. They are all but “fig-leaf” religions and are of “no value against fleshly indulgence” (Colossians 2:23).

A heart transplant is what is needed. A complete rebirth.  That is something Jesus alone can do. It is what He prescribed to Nicodemus (John 3:7). No one but Jesus can heal us of all “our soul’s diseases.”  He is of sin the “double-cure.” Through His work on the cross He grants, to the believer, both forgiveness and heart-change. Sin’s power is broken. The heart is changed and renewed and made healthy in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10).

“He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). The new birth is a wonderful thing! Christ Himself takes up residence in the heart of the believer. And His glorious presence there shines forth in wonderful ways. Sinful words and deeds are put off, supernatural virtues take their place. By a work of the Spirit, these Christ-like virtues usher forth from within the born-again believer. A host of damning vices are replaced by glorious and compelling virtues (Galatians 5:22-23). The good heart bears good fruit (Luke 8:15).

We are all born with a heart problem.  Countless remedies are suggested and applied to no avail.  The Great Physician is both willing and able to diagnose and treat the problem.  He alone can make us “Heart Healthy.”

What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought
Since Jesus came into my heart!
I have light in my soul for which long I have sought,
Since Jesus came into my heart!

Since Jesus came into my heart,
Since Jesus came into my heart,
Floods of joy o’er my soul like the sea billows roll,
Since Jesus came into my heart.

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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