Jesus spoke these words in response to comments made by some Pharisees and teachers of religious laws about the eating habits of His disciples. The Pharisees had noticed that some of Jesus’ disciples failed to follow the usual Jewish ritual of hand washing before eating, and asked Jesus about this. I’m sure that Jesus advocated cleanliness, but He was appalled by the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. He replied to their inquiry in Mark 7:6-8 by saying, “You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied about you when he said, ‘These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far away. Their worship is a farce, for they replace God’s commands with their own man-made teachings.’ For you (the Pharisees) ignore God’s specific laws and substitute your own traditions.” Jesus went on to talk about how the Pharisees appeared to be religious, but they neglected and dishonored their parents, ignoring the Fifth Commandment. Following that confrontation, He shared with the crowd that defilement comes not from “what we eat” but “what we say and do.” Then, He followed up that statement with a commentary about the powerful influence our thought life has on the actions and words of our lives – and what really defiles us.
Question – “Have you ever considered the power your thoughts have over what you say or do?” The Bible teaches that our thought life is the key to everything we are, say and do. Proverbs 23:7 reads, “As a man thinks in his heart so is he” or “so does he.” In other words, our thought life instigates and controls what we say and do – and ultimately who we are. Someone wrote, “Sow a thought, reap an act. Sow an act, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a destiny.” You see, it all begins with our thoughts.
Second Question – “What kind of thoughts do you allow to linger in your mind?” It’s amazing the type of ungodly and foolish thoughts that many of us allow to linger in our minds. Many Christians struggle with thoughts of adultery, anger, anxiety, bitterness, criticism, covetousness, deceit, depression, despair, envy, fear, foolishness, greed, hatred, hurt, immorality, insecurity, jealousy, laziness, lust, malice, pride, rebellion, resentment, selfishness, sexual fantasies, slander, wickedness, worry, etc. If your major thought struggles are not in that list – take a moment to identify them. Why do we allow such thoughts to permeate our minds and determine our words, actions, habits and destinies? Jesus said, “All these vile things come from within you; they are what defile you and make you unacceptable to God” (Mark 7:23).
We’ve got to gain control over our thought life if we are to live victorious lives (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Paul wrote, “Put your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). He also wrote in Philippians 4:8, “Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Paul was telling us that we need to reprogram our thoughts. If we don’t, our lives will not be acceptable to God, and we will not experience the victorious and fulfilling lives God intends for us.
As you pray today: 1) Pray for the Lord to reveal to you the ungodly and foolish thoughts that you regularly allow to linger in your mind – and repent of them and ask Him to remove them from you;
2) Pray for the Lord to help you focus daily on that which is good, godly and positive – so that your mind will be on heavenly things, rather than on ungodly thoughts; and 3) Ask the Lord to empower you to live a life that is acceptable to Him.