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He then revealed their view of the Scrip-  topic of ceremonial defilement. The Lord’s
        tures (vv8-13). They may have been adding   challenge to the Pharisees focused upon
        to the Scriptures their own traditions but,   their heart and challenged their moral
        in doing so, they were “laying aside the   defilement. With this background the
        commandment of God” (v8), rejecting   Lord’s meaning becomes clear. “There is
        “the commandment of God” (v9), and    nothing” (no food or drink) “outside a
        “making the word of God of none effect”   person that by going into him can defile
        (v13).                                him” (morally). A ceremonially defiled
          How were they doing this? They had   piece of meat cannot make a person mor-
        become so occupied with the additions   ally unclean, neither can a ceremonially
        and traditions that divine truth was com-  clean piece of meat make the consumer
        promised and forgotten. Moses (in Scrip-  morally pure. But “the things that come
        ture) had said, “Honour thy father and   out of a person are what defile him.” A
        thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or   man’s source of moral impurity is found
        mother, let him die the death” (v10), but   within himself, in his own heart. There
        they said (in observance of their traditions)   is therefore no correlation to be drawn
        that this scriptural command could be   between ceremonial (external) cleanness
        practically ignored. Therefore they were   and moral (internal) purity. Rather, as the
        “making the Word of God of none effect”   Lord explains later to His disciples, “from
        by their traditions.                  within, out of the heart of men, proceed
          Enforced extra-biblical traditions mar   evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications,
        the perfect balance and supernatural   murders, thefts, covetousness, wicked-
        harmony of biblical truth. Whatever our   ness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye,
        motive might be for adding to Scripture,   blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these
        we must humbly accept that we cannot
        improve on God’s perfect Word. Add-   evil things come from within, and defile
        ing our own ingredients to the signature   the man” (vv21-23).
        recipe of a world-class chef would only   This exposure of externalism should
        spoil the dish. Adding our ideas to God’s   have led the Pharisees to seek what was in-
        Word will only detract from it. The Lord   ternal and real. Their hearts were defiled,
        clearly exposed the Pharisees as enemies   and no external observance could rectify
        of God’s truth.                       that problem. Nicodemus, one of their
        The Externalism of the Pharisees (7:14-  number, found the answer when he came
        23)                                   to the Lord and received the instruction,
          At this point the Lord turned to “all   “Ye must be born again” (Joh 3:7).
        the people” (v14). The Pharisees may be   Practically, we must learn that extra-bib-
        completely committed to their traditions   lical traditions invariably place undue em-
        but the people could be influenced for   phasis on externals and, when enforced,
        good. “There is nothing outside a person   become harmful. Hearts attuned to God,
        that by going into him can defile him, but   and actions aligned with God’s Word, pro-
        the things that come out of a person are   duce a true reflection of God’s character of
        what defile him” (v15 ESV).           righteousness and truth, mercy and love.
          The Pharisees’ criticism of the disciples   The Lord perfectly exhibited this. And this
        focused upon their  hands, raising the   is supremely important.

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