15 Peter said to Him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 Jesus said, “Are you still lacking in understanding also? 17 “Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? 18 “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19 “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. 20 “These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.”
Jesus is surprised that the disciples, even Peter, still did not understand the point of His message. The Pharisees were caught up in their religiosity and as we saw yesterday, the disciples continued to respect them for it. Jesus explains to the disciples and us that without God, our hearts are evil and malicious. If we are working under our own power, thoughts, and feelings, we are murderers, adulterers, fornicators, thieves, liars, and slanderers. If this were the end of the story, then it would have a pretty bleak outlook, wouldn’t it? Yet we read what God promised to Israel (and later the rest of His chosen) in Ezekiel 36:
23 “I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight. 24 “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. 25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. 28 “You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God. 29 “Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for the grain and multiply it, and I will not bring a famine on you.”
Our uncleanliness and unholiness leads to death and destruction. But God has better plans for us. He cleanses us, restores us, and transforms us! In Jesus’ last days before being crucified, He explained this concept to His disciples as we read in John 16:
13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 “All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.
It is God’s changing of our hearts and His indwelling by His Spirit that changes our hearts and therefore cleanses that which comes from it. This is why we read Paul’s exhortation of being transformed in Romans 12, because the world’s sinfulness has corrupted us and we must be reborn of God in order to receive our new heart of flesh and be transformed from our old lives into the new. If we truly want to be in relationship with God, then we must humble ourselves and submit our desires and evil hearts to Him for transformation. I encourage you to read Psalm 51 today and use it as a prayer to God for your continued transformation.