Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode NINE of the Bible 2021 podcast.  We are reading Mark 7 today, and our focus is on outward vs. inward appearances.  Thank you for joining us for Bible 2021! We are a daily podcast, where we will dig into ten minutes of truth from the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day. Our focus this year is on DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our new web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more – Click here for our reading plan! 

Had an interesting conversation with our 9 year old daughter Phoebe tonight. She asked me a good question, “Daddy, can you name some good things about 2020?” I thought for a moment, and told her that I appreciated that we had more family time together, and some things like that, but one thing that struck me as I tried to answer her question is that 2020 was the most consistent our family has ever been in reading the Word of God together. It became a habit in 2020, and we almost never miss it…which is a good thing. If you aren’t there yet, just let me encourage you: it took us several tries, over several years, before the habit of reading God’s Word together as a family became ingrained in us. There have been some complaints, of course, but overall it seems like it is something the kids don’t mind, and sometimes even get something out of. I’d like to tell you that they come running laughing joyously when we declare Bible time, but that isn’t normally the way it goes down…but there are times when we have good breakthroughs, and may the Lord send more of those!

Today we read Mark 7, and our focus is NOT on the dangers of elevating traditions over God’s Word. since we’ve already discussed that in relation to Mark 3, but I do need to point out that Jesus strongly rebukes the Pharisees for this tendency in this passage, and it must be a warning that we hear also – not to elevate our human rules and traditions to a level of authority above the Word of God. Rather, we are focusing on Jesus’ challenge to the Pharisees – and us – to not merely give God lip service, but to have our hearts wholly devoted to Him. This brings us to our focus verse of the day, Mark 7:6 “He answered them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.Some people value the outward appearance – their reputation, what people think of them, etc – more than they value what’s inside, but, Scripture tells us that God looks inwardly as in 1 Samuel 16:7, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature because I have rejected him. Humans do not see what the Lord sees, for humans see what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.” Let’s read Mark 7, and then discuss this inner person dynamic a little more.

First, I need to say that this is not Jesus telling us to be unhygienic, rather, He is challenging the Pharisees for focusing so much on outward cleanliness, as we see in Matthew 23, ““Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” A cup that appears beautiful and shiny is terrible for drinking out of if the inner part of the cup is unwashed and disgusting…and a person is similar, notes Jesus.

John Newton, a spiritual giant from the 1700s, helps us to see the dangers of external righteousness well here, writing:

Though they were not addicted to imitate the idolatry of the Heathens, as their forefathers had been, they were no less alienated from the true God; and their wickedness was the more aggravated, for being practised under a professed attachment to the forms of his law. They drew nigh to God with their lips, but their hearts were far from him.‡ Their very worship profaned the temple in which they gloried, and the holy house of prayer, through their abominations, was become a den of thieves. They owned the divine authority of the Scriptures, and read them with seeming attention, but rendered them of none effect, through the greater attention they paid to the corrupt traditions of their elders. They boasted in their relation to Abraham as their father, but proved themselves to be indeed the children of those who had persecuted and murdered the prophets.* The Scribes and Pharisees, who sat in the chair of Moses, and were the public teachers of the people, under an exterior garb of sanctity, of prayer and fasting, were guilty of oppression, fraud, and uncleanness; and while they trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others, their real character was a combination of pride and hypocrisy. Therefore he who knew their hearts, and saw through all their disguises, compared them to painted sepulchres, fair to outward appearance, but within full of filth and impurity

John Newton and Richard Cecil, The Works of John Newton, vol. 4 (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 20–21.

May we avoid this error of the Pharisees, and be washed by Jesus outside and INSIDE!

End of the Show: Bible memory verse for January: Mark 1:15 15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

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