Wednesday, July 23, 2008

keep thy heart

Prov. 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
It's amazing how many people think that Jesus came to do away with that "old, broken law of the Old Testament", in order to implement a "new and better formula, called the New Testament". When Jesus himself said that he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. In Matthew 15:17-20 Jesus said something that went against everything the Jews had learned through tradition over the last several hundred years, this is what he said, "whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught[.] But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man."
Jesus here is not denying the fact that one of the ceremonial laws was to wash your hands before you ate, but the pharisees had turned it into something spiritual, something that was necessary for their salvation. What the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders were missing, was that the ceremonial law was always either a picture and type fulfilled in Christ, or something that was given to the Jews for their own benefit. The law about washing your hands never had anything to do with salvation or holy living, it was given as a sanitary issue that we still follow today. (Just look at the signs in any public restroom, "all employees must wash hands before returning to work.") Unfortunately, the Jews had taken the hand washing rule too seriously (By making it a spiritual law) and had completely ignored Prov. 4:23. Jesus wasn't giving them some new law, he was clarifying the old one that they had twisted up.
I don't know that on the day of judgment we'll give an account for how often we did or didn't wash our hands, but I think we will give an account for how clean we kept our heart. We live in a world much like the one that Jesus was dealing with, if you are caught returning to work without washing your hands you can lose your job. If your boss found out you were living an immoral life style and tried to fire you, he would probably get sued for discrimination. Now don't get me wrong, if you're going to be handling my food (or anything else for that matter) I hope you wash your hands before you leave the restroom; but I am even more concerned that your heart be clean. We provide our children with condoms and by doing so we shout to them the message that we care much more for their physical life than their spiritual one. When the government hands out sterile needles so that drug addicts can continue abusing themselves "safely", we tell them that so long as they live a few years longer, we care nothing if they burn for eternity in hell.
Oh, beloved in the Lord, stop bowing to the to the pressure of our sinful culture, stop "running to the same excess of riot" that they do. Gird up the loins of your prophet's mantle and love our country enough to tell them what they need to hear about eternity, instead of what they want to hear about today. When we stress the physical and neglect the spiritual, we are acting just like the Pharisees and proving that the truth is not in us.

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