Fits of Piety and Heart Attacks


17And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”   Mark 7:17-23

We get keyed up about the wrong things; in a fit of piety we move the furniture and try to clean up our lives.

Jesus highlights our misdirected piety.

Instead of attending to the real problem of purity, our piety (effort at holiness) often attacks the wrong thing.

Humanly motivated piety attacks substances. The hope is that by limiting the substances coming into the body then a person will be righteous.

The central concern of piety must be the heart. For its what comes out of my heart that slimes me and others. Jesus gave some examples of what He sees there in the heart:

evil thoughts
sexual immorality

A quick look at this list clarifies my need for a priest, a physician for my heart. I need someone who can attack my heart and change my life.

But who has the priestly power to cleanse me from impurity?

Who is qualified to radically transform the heart?

Who has knowledge of the secret designs of my heart?

Jesus Christ, the Creator of Heaven and earth, the Lamb of God, who comes to take away the sin of the world.

The Holy Spirit motivates a different piety.

This pursuit of holiness is now a pursuit of the Holy One of God, Jesus Christ.

11But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

15Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance… Hebrews 9:11-15


Think about thinking.

Walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord….

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit…  Ephesians 5:8-10, 15-18

Have you spent some time lately thinking about how you are thinking?

God is interested in your metacognition. The quality of your life with Him and in all your relationships depends on it.

Here’s some questions to help:

Are you living as a child of light? The Gospel brings us into the revelation of the glory of God in Christ and into the reality of God’s comprehension of our whole lives. No need to hide before Him. Bring your life honestly and in its rawness to Him.

Is your thought process informed by an increasing desire to please God? If so you will be seeking to discern what is pleasing to God.

Are you paying attention to your life and relationships in order to live wisely? Are you living in a bubble or are you aware of the interconnectedness of your life to God through Christ, to people, to yourself, and to the stuff of earth?

Are you seeking to make the most of your time in each day? Is there any urgency in how you use your time?

Are you seeking to be full of the Holy Spirit? The mind and life under the influence of the Spirit of God is the grace available to us who are in Christ Jesus. The counter concern is that we not give up the capacities of mental engagement to drunkenness. Such a life leads to the persistent relinquishment of our thinking ability and leads us into habituated patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting that are in opposition to Jesus.

Are you thinking about your thinking yet?

I had a friend who used to say to me when he didn’t like what was coming out of my mouth or anyone else’s, “Now that’s stinking thinking!” When you hear it, repent, and ask the Spirit of God to align your thinking with the truth and grace of Jesus Christ our Lord.