After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, “Hear and understand! It is not what enters the mouth that defiles the person, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles the person.”

Hear and understand. It sounds so simple, and yet Jesus knew the problem was foundational. The Pharisees heard the truth—the message of the gospel—but they could not understand. They heard the law but could not understand the heart of it.

What comes out of us reflects what is in our hearts (Luke 6:45). While we might be worried about how the world around us will taint us, Jesus calls us to look to the deeper issue. The Pharisees were endlessly legalistic about clean and unclean foods. There were things they could and could not put in their bodies in order to stay ritually clean. But it isn’t the outward things that ultimately defile us. It is the sin that takes root in our hearts. That sin is what gives birth to the evil that comes out of our mouths and out of our lives.

Hear and understand. Many of us are so busy trying to clean up the outside—the parts of our lives people can see—when we really need to be looking more closely at the dark corners of our hearts. Otherwise, we will spend our lives hearing all the right things but never understanding. We will say and do the right things, but never walk in the light of true heart change. Sure, there is much in the world that isn’t good for us. There is evil and darkness that can steer us astray. But, most of all we need to hear the words of Jesus and let them sink into our hearts. Only then will we live as if we are truly transformed.

  • Where are you most worried about outward appearances in your Christian walk? More concerned with looking righteous than being righteous?
  • Is there anything you have heard about Jesus, but not really understood? How might Jesus be reminding you of truth that you are now understanding in a deeper way?
  • Take some time to repent of the ways you are more concerned with the outside than the issues of your heart. Ask the Lord to renew a right spirit within you.