Mark 7 Lesson

Follow God, not man

Chapter 7 begins with a lesson from Jesus about traditions. Mark writes:

“The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?” And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:

‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS,

BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.

‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,

TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’

Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.

He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.” - Mark 7:1-9.

The scribes and Pharisees were going after Jesus in a legalistic way. But Jesus was able to see their hearts.  He realized that their actions were motivated by their own sinful desires, not by their love for God, or their desire to keep His commandments.   Jesus makes a clear distinction between the traditions of men and the commandments of God.  

We need to recognize that the traditions of men may or may not be in alignment with God’s Word.

The words of the Bible are inspired by God, and they are full of His great love and compassion for mankind.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16.

The traditions of men may have their origin in love, or they may not. Too many times in history we see “religious leaders” mistreating the word of God for personal gain.

When comparing the commandments of God to the traditions of men, it is important to consider these two points:

  1. The commandments of God are to be followed always.
  2. The traditions of men should only be followed when they agree with God’s Word and His Spirit.

The Apostle John wrote in his Gospel:

“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. ” – John 4:24.

In the seventh chapter of Mark, Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah:

“This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me,” – Mark 7:6.

Jesus is saying that what we do is more important than what we say. We can say that we love Jesus all we want, but our actions will speak louder than our words. If we love Him, we are to keep His commandments – John 14:15.


In verse 9. Jesus says to the scribes and Pharisees:

“You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.”

Here, Jesus points out that there are some people that are so caught up in earthly power and recognition that they will deliberately disobey God for selfish motives. They will keep doing the things that they know are wrong, even to the destruction of their souls, if they believe it will help them hold onto their status or possessions. As we have just seen, this is not what pleases God. He would rather that we practice humility while keeping His commandments and spreading the good news about Jesus.

We will conclude today’s lesson with the following quotes about having a pure heart:

  • Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God .” - Mathew 5:8.
  • “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” - Psalm 51:10.
  • “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” - Proverbs 4:23.

Comments

Michael

I think of the greatest commandment to love God with, "All your heart, soul and mind."

Hypocrisy is the opposite of "All your heart, soul and mind." It means saying one thing is important, but then doing the opposite. Seeing hypocrisy in practice can be demoralizing, which makes it very dangerous. Jesus knowing this, placed a great deal of emphasis on NOT being a hypocrite.

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Michael

I think of the greatest commandment to love God with, "All your heart, soul and mind."

Hypocrisy is the opposite of "All your heart, soul and mind." It means saying one thing is important, but then doing the opposite. Seeing hypocrisy in practice can be demoralizing, which makes it very dangerous. Jesus knowing this, placed a great deal of emphasis on NOT being a hypocrite.

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Dan
Michael

That is well put--hypocrisy is the opposite of "all your heart, soul and mind."

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Mustang

People have been trying to manipulate the gospel since the days of Jesus' stay on earth. There is nothing new under the sun.

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