What Comes Out Defiles a Man

(Matthew 15:10-20)

Jesus gave this parable about what comes out of a man and eating with unwashed hands after upbraiding the Pharisees and scribes about upholding traditions. He was concerned about matters of the spirit and not physical issues. Eating with unwashed hands was about a physical issue, but it is what comes out of a man that proceeds from the heart that is the real issue.

There are many things that man believes to be sin which are not. The Pharisees were so steeped in their human traditions that they took offence at the disciples for eating with unwashed hands. They considered this a transgression of the tradition of the elders and equated that with sin. But Jesus showed clearly this was not the case. It is what comes out of a man that will defile him. For all sin proceeds from the spirit of a man, from his heart and soul, and it is sin that defiles a person.

The disciples did not understand this parable so Peter asked the Lord to explain it to them. The Pharisees were focussed on what goes into a man, that is, food. They believed that it was unclean to eat with unwashed hands for the food would be contaminated in some way. While we know today about issues of bacteria, salmonella and the like, we do not wash before eating as a religious tradition like the Pharisees did, but for hygiene reasons. Even then, if we did not wash before eating in most circumstance we would not suffer any harm, and certainly it is not a sin.

So it is not what goes into a man that is an issue but what comes out defiles a man. Jesus listed all manner of evil, the primary concern being evil thoughts. Evil thoughts in particular are at the root of what comes out of a person and defiles them. In other scriptures when the Lord says, “You shall know them by their fruits,” he is saying to watch and see if what comes out defiles a man or if what comes out is good fruit.

In speaking of the false teaching that the Pharisees were promoting based upon their human traditions, Jesus counselled the disciples to “Leave them alone; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Verse 14) He was saying that they are spiritually blind for they put their traditions above the word of God. While there are some traditions that are harmless and some that were delivered to us to keep by the Lord himself, any time we put a tradition or any false teaching ahead of the word of God we are in peril of being a blind guide.

Spiritual blindness is worse than physical blindness for it clouds and darkens the spirit of a man and leads him astray. Succumbing to spiritual blindness will cause people to fall away from following the Lord and wandering into error. Thus as the writer of Hebrews counsels, “Therefore we must pay the closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” (Hebrews 2:1) Whatever we hear from other people we need to weigh against the scripture and the words of Jesus to see if it accords with the truth of the gospel of Christ. To do that we need to study the scriptures so that we are immersed in it and can more quickly pick the error from the truth. As Paul wrote, “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.” (Ephesians 4:14) Only by doing this in combination with Christian fellowship and prayer are we able to ensure we are not swayed by false doctrine and the teachings of blind guides.

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2 Replies to “What Comes Out Defiles a Man”

  1. I find that Jesus’ words here a TRUE and guaranteed formula to success due to the fact that the good treasure of the heart that outflows form your mouth literally affects and benefits not only others but yourself as a blessing spirtually (joy and PEACE) and produces bodily and material blessings for yourself and others. The opposite is also true. Deceit/lies, evil words stemming from evil thoughts, and so forth produce bitter fruit, which brings a curse on yourself.

    As David wrote:
    Psalm 34:12 Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days,
    Psalm 34:13 keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.

    and Peter echoes the same idea when he says: 10For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. 11He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. 12For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 13Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed [God will reward for it–NLT]. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” 15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord…
    — 1 Peter 3:10-15 (NIV)

    And Solomon says in Proverbs 4:23, Keep [guard] thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
    and Solomon also said in Proverbs 3:5,6 5Trust the Lord with al your heart and lean not on your own understanding, 6In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. 7Don’t be wise in your own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. 8It willl be health to your navel, and marrow to thy bones. 9Honour the Lord with your wealth, and with the firstfruits of all your increase: 10So will your barns be filled with plenty, and your presses will burst out with new wine. 11My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, 12because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. 13Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, 14for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. 15She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. 16Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. 17Her ways are pleasant ways, and ALL HER PATHS are PEACE. 18She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.

    1. Thanks for your comment Josh. There is no question that we shall “know them by their fruits” and it is the wrods of the mouth proceeding from the heart that betray the fruits of the person from whom they come forth, whether for good or evil. Your comments are most welcome. God bless.

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