Born That Way

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), October 10

imagesBabies are naturally self-centered. They cry when they are hungry, wet, and bored. Their entire world revolves around them. And it doesn’t get any better as they continue to grow—they simply become better at hiding it! A determined person may present him- or herself in a caring and compassionate image, but forget to show him gratitude and consideration, or cut in front of her at a red light, and the selfish person that he or she is emerges! Each of us enters this world with a capacity and propensity to act selfishly and sinfully, to categorize our particular sins as better or worse than those of others. It is amazing how man sanitizes some sins while vilifying others.

Jesus never wastes His time evaluating anyone based on externals. He has access to secret thoughts and motives, and He doesn’t have a grading scale on which He measures anyone. Sin is sin. Pride, hypocrisy, gluttony and power-grabbing are equal to sexual sin and murder. Men are quick to grade on a sliding scale what God equates.

Jesus describes the interior world of every man: “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these things come from within and defile a man” (Mk. 7:20-23).

No one can make a person be angry, lust or lie. Circumstances (both good and bad) simply offer opportunities for what’s inside to come out. Time, opportunity, and even family origins don’t make people do certain things; rather they reveal what is there all along.

Jesus demonstrates that the self-righteous and proud Pharisee is just as alienated from God as the sexually immoral man, liar or murderer. The Pharisees measure their external cleanness against the external uncleanness of Jesus’ disciples: “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread” (Mt. 15:2). They have exchanged the commandments of God with tradition of the elders—traditions that have nothing to do with thoughts and motives, only with hand washing and an unbearable number of other externals—and are offended at Jesus’ disregard for external rituals.

Arguing over the washing of hands doesn’t answer the question of what must be done for the sinner from whose heart proceed “evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride and foolishness” (Mk. 7:21-22). Further, Jesus says, “All these evil things come from within and defile a man” (7:23). That’s why the gospel of Jesus Christ is such good news: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

We all enter this world disconnected from God (which shows up in a multitude of ways), and reconnection comes at a price: humility and honesty on our part, and forgiveness and redemption on God’s part.

God provides the righteousness that He Himself requires. The moment the repentant sinner accepts the righteousness of Christ as his own, he is born-again. The Spirit of God then manifests Christ’s righteousness in him. He is changed from the inside out!

Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Jn. 6:22-71; Mk. 7:1-23; Mt. 15:1-20):
What does Jesus’ statement, “I am the bread of life” (Jn. 6:35), reveal about Him and about man’s real need? What objection do the Jews raise regarding Jesus’ identity? What do their objection and rejection reveal about their knowledge of the Father?