TEXT: MARK 7:14-23
CLEAN – FROM THE OUTSIDE IN!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

To the saints who are at Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center and are faithful in Christ Jesus, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus said; 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.”  

To a great degree our culture judges by externals – by appearances. Indeed, we all do to a degree!  “Beauty is only skin deep” – but it has effects that go deeper than the skin!  Externals often misdirect minds and actions in unreal and artificial ways. In the 50’s and 60’s Rock Hudson was a leading man in Hollywood. Ladies swooned over his stature and smile for decades. Not until shortly before he died in 1985 did the public know that he was gay and for the last years of his life infected with the HIV virus. Behind that million-dollar smile an incurable disease was taking its toll.

The recent blockbuster movies about Iron Man that you University students have seen may also help illustrate an internal source that causes harm. The premise of the show includes an electromagnet implanted in Iron Man’s chest to protect his heart from shrapnel and power his amazing suit. The irony is that the magnet’s palladium core – the injured man’s power and life source - is at the same time slowly poisoning him. That which powers him is also killing him from the inside out.   

Jesus had much to say about our being poisoned from the inside out - about our suffering from an internal disease not fully recognized externally. Jesus had already defiled Himself in the eyes of the Pharisees by coming into contact with lepers and the dead. The recent confrontation over traditions about washing now gave way to a direct conflict about whether foods defile a person. Jesus turns the Pharisees’ conception of impurity upside down or rather inside out!

 

TEXT: MARK 7:14-23
CLEAN – FROM THE OUTSIDE IN!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

To the saints who are at Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center and are faithful in Christ Jesus, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus said; 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.”  

To a great degree our culture judges by externals – by appearances. Indeed, we all do to a degree!  “Beauty is only skin deep” – but it has effects that go deeper than the skin!  Externals often misdirect minds and actions in unreal and artificial ways. In the 50’s and 60’s Rock Hudson was a leading man in Hollywood. Ladies swooned over his stature and smile for decades. Not until shortly before he died in 1985 did the public know that he was gay and for the last years of his life infected with the HIV virus. Behind that million-dollar smile an incurable disease was taking its toll.

The recent blockbuster movies about Iron Man that you University students have seen may also help illustrate an internal source that causes harm. The premise of the show includes an electromagnet implanted in Iron Man’s chest to protect his heart from shrapnel and power his amazing suit. The irony is that the magnet’s palladium core – the injured man’s power and life source - is at the same time slowly poisoning him. That which powers him is also killing him from the inside out.   

Jesus had much to say about our being poisoned from the inside out - about our suffering from an internal disease not fully recognized externally. Jesus had already defiled Himself in the eyes of the Pharisees by coming into contact with lepers and the dead. The recent confrontation over traditions about washing now gave way to a direct conflict about whether foods defile a person. Jesus turns the Pharisees’ conception of impurity upside down or rather inside out!

After saying that nothing outside a person defiles him by going in - Jesus added - “…from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts…”     By “out of the heart of man” - Jesus meant all of mankind. Jesus meant you. Jesus meant me. “…From within – out of your heart (and mine) come evil thoughts…”  Then He gave a short list to illustrate the vast resource of evil that poisons us from the inside-out.

Sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness
– He lists as six sinful behaviors that bubble up from the inside. Deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness, He lists as six sinful attitudes that we cannot excuse away or blame on others. Jesus’ description could not be more condemning of our propensity to focus on the external sins of others rather than the sin from within ourselves.

We see the public moral failings of another quite readily. We do not as easily recognize the immorality in our own heart. An industry full of sexually transmitted diseases and broken marriages and depression and drugs uses nakedness and bright lights and skin-deep beauty to stir up lustful looking and lustful thinking through computers and televisions. Our evil thoughts - deeper than our skin – can actually long to look at this muck that can only harm us.

We see the misplaced priorities of others all around. We do not as easily recognize that our powerful passion for things political or financial or personal so easily outweighs the powerful passion we should have for Christ and His words of life – for the proclamation of the Gospel. We do not as easily recognize how much we omit praying out loud to Our heavenly Father everyday “Holy be Your Name – on earth as it is in heaven,” and meaning it to the core of our being. Oh what sins of omission constantly and corrosively bubble inside of us!

We hear and see the reports of violence – of road rage – 0f shootings - of great harm done by one person to another – even causing death. We don’t see as our Lord does – that the anger and hatred of our hearts toward another in government, in church, in community, in our circle of acquaintances is murder also before Him.

We see the demand for more things that others make - their unrealistic expectations and their clamor for control. We do not so easily see our own lack of contentment - our own sense of level of expectation - our own desire to be in control as idolizing our self.

What is under our skin or inside of us is killing us. Like a hidden cancer or like HIV - sin is present with profound effect in our hearts. There was an old radio show named The Shadow. It always began with the question, “Who knows what evil lurks within the hearts of men?  The Shadow knows!”  

Dear Christians, Jesus is no shadow but the Son of God in the flesh. And Jesus knows what evil lurks within the hearts of all men and women. Jesus knows fully what lurks within your heart. He states it this way. “What comes out of a person is what defiles him…out of the heart of man…all these evil things comes from within, and they defile a person.”  

Jesus’ short sampling of the outward flow of our hearts shows how lethal it is – and yet how difficult it can be to recognize its deadliness. Note carefully that Jesus names “deceit” and “pride” and “foolishness” in the disgusting mixture of what flows from within us. We normally think of someone else deceiving us from the outside – but dear Christians – we are so very accomplished at deceiving ourselves from the inside. This flow of pride and deceit and foolishness from inside of us can be so potent that when Jesus speaks about the poison in our hearts - we can doubt it and disbelieve it. Not my heart!  Jesus, you may be rightly pegging the hearts of the crazies out there, the mass shooters – the greedy executives – the dishonest politicians – the drug pushers - but certainly You can’t mean my sweet little old heart!  Certainly You can’t mean the kind heart of my grandfather – or my caring friend.

Yes, Jesus means you and me and all the people you know. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. If we fail the law at one point we are guilty of all of it before God. The Holy Trinity demands holiness and that is not what is naturally in us.

Fellow-redeemed, our chief sin – the sin the Holy Spirit convicts us of is unbelief – unbelief in the magnitude of our sinfulness and therefore unbelief in the magnitude of God’s forgiveness for us in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit is active in you today through these words of Jesus – “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 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.”  Even the fault-finding or excuse-making or self-justifying thoughts you or I have concerning these words of Jesus defile us before God’s holiness. You see, it goes on all the time!

That is why it takes something completely outside of us to wash us clean on the inside. God looked into His heart, not our hearts to devise a plan for our salvation. From within the gracious love of the Holy Trinity flowed out to our sinful and dying world the answer for our poisonous hearts. That answer was not a shadow. That answer was not a pretend Iron Man. That answer is the real God Man –The Word made flesh!  He did not come to die slowly of some accidental poisoning!  He came to intentionally immerse Himself in the deadly stream of this world’s sin including the flow from your heart and mine!  He became sin itself for us!  He came in flesh and blood for the very purpose of sacrificing His body and shedding His blood to make peace with God for us by the blood of His cross. It was the God of heaven, infinitely above us, completely outside of us, who came to earth and paid the price.

Now the Holy Spirit comes to us from the outside bringing the cleansing power of Jesus’ death to bear on our hearts!  Your Baptism is – in fact - a Baptism into His death (Romans 6)!  That’s outside of you – but it gets right to the heart of the problem that’s inside of you!  When you eat at His table – you all together proclaim His death!  The food comes to you from the outside but it gets right to the heart of the problem on the inside of you. Did you know that the offertory – “Create in me a clean heart O God,” (the verse also in today’s Introit) was placed in the liturgy right before Holy Communion for this reason?  It looks forward to the Sacrament – believing that the risen Lord is present in this food to give us clean hearts?  As you sing it today, know that the blood Jesus gives you to drink at His Table cleanses you from all sin – the whole, dark, bubbly, poisonous cauldron on the inside – nothing at all excepting!

Beloved, we … wrestle … against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. If we seek to stand against forces with internal fortitude or mental quickness or innate good reasoning – we are lost!  We cannot win from the inside out!

The risen Christ comes to us with weapons from the outside that alone can deal with the cosmic forces of evil and the evil centered in our very selves. Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm… the belt of truth…the breastplate of righteousness…the shield of faith…the helmet of salvation…and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. There is a lot of iron – a lot of metal in breastplates and shields and helmets and swords. This whole armor of God makes you not a pretend Iron man or Iron Woman – however. Rather this clothing makes you God’s man or God’s woman – clothed in Christ who is the truth – Who is our righteousness – Who is our salvation – Who is the Word of God made flesh. He is also our Peace and that is why as shoes for your feet, you put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

Nothing else will do but the gospel of peace!  To remove your guilt – to soothe your conscience – to give contentment in your struggles – to give purpose in your daily duties – to call forth gentle witness to the hope that you have in Christ Jesus from your lips. The readiness given by the gospel of peace is the readiness of sins forgiven - of faith strengthened - of hope renewed.

Go in peace from God’s house of worship today for you are spotless – without blemish – perfectly clean – from the outside in!  In the Name of Jesus!     Amen.

 

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a