Sunday, August 24, 2014, 5:10 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Tell Me the Story of Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Mark 7:1-23 (ESV). By Appearances Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” There are many people, even within our modern churches today, who still hold fast to the traditions of their ancestors, their culture, and/or their religious upbringing, and who will also make judgments of others based upon whether or not they also hold to the same traditions of human-making. One of the most predominant religious traditions which comes to mind is the tradition that we must meet together with the church on Sunday mornings in a building called “church.” Along with this is often taught that the building itself is the “house of God” and that when we enter the sanctuary (or worship center), we are entering into “God’s presence.” This is all patterned after the Old Testament and the temple. Yet, when Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sent his Holy Spirit to indwell the lives of his true followers, we, the true church, became the house of God. The Holy of Holies now dwells within us. God does not dwell in buildings built by human hands. A building or an organization of humans called a “church” is not the house of God, and we do not enter into God’s presence when we enter that sanctuary. Because we are the temple of God, we should be continuously in the presence of Almighty God. As well, it doesn’t matter when or where we meet with other believers. The early church met daily in the temple courts and from house to house. And yet, even though this is what scripture clearly teaches, many still hold to this tradition of human-making, and they judge those who do not as though they are less spiritual than those who do. Many professing Christians feel they are more spiritual, too, because they attend a church worship service on a Sunday morning in a traditional church setting, and yet they might be some of the worst customers at local restaurants on Sunday afternoons, giving a bad name to both church and to Christianity. I have had at least one server tell me that the Christians coming from church on Sunday are some of her worst behaved patrons. So, obviously attending a worship service on a Sunday morning in a building called “church” does nothing to improve our spirituality or to make us more holy. In Truth And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Not everyone who attends a worship service on a Sunday morning in a building called “church,” though, is guilty of hypocrisy and/or of following doctrines or teachings of humans over the teachings of scripture. And, yet, many do. I find this particularly predominant in today’s church here in America. What I mean is I see that even our modern churches, which claim to be free from man-made religion, are just as bound by man-made religion and traditional religious practices as those from whom they have disassociated themselves, thus just trading one humanistic teaching for another. They still have their legalistic tendencies and those traditions passed down to them which they follow and by which they judge those who do not follow them. Most modern churches in America are following some denomination, human-based doctrine, teachings of humans, and/or human business marketing techniques for growing their churches. Those who do so to the exclusion or to the suppression of scripture can be guilty of giving lip service only to God, but their hearts being far from God, because they teach what is man-made over and above the teachings of scripture, of Christ, and of the apostles. Much of this is not a new thing, though. Many professing Christians for generations have followed the religious practices passed down to them from family or their leaders without question, yet many have done so out of ignorance. And yet, so many of them, even when presented with the truth of scripture, will ignore the scriptures in favor of tradition, or in favor of the teachings of humans or denomination. And, that is a very sad reality. I have found that even many pastors have chosen to follow human teachings above scripture or in place of the teachings of Christ and the apostles, because the teachings of humans suit more their purposes and the direction they want to go with THEIR “church.” And, thus they void the word of God by their traditions or by the human teachings which they follow. Inside Out And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And 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, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Jesus said it is not the physical dirt going into our bodies, because we didn’t wash our hands before we ate, which defiles us. It is what comes out of us from what is inside our hearts which defiles us, thus the title here, “Inside Out.” So, I looked up the phrase, “Inside Out,” and from varied sources learned that it means “backwards (the wrong way; in reverse); in a state of disarray; to change utterly; to cause utter confusion; to defeat totally.” And, you know what? This fits, because when we follow the teachings of humans and the traditions of human beings in place of or over and above the Word of God, and we thus nullify the Word of God by our traditions, so that our flesh is still what rules our lives, instead of the Spirit within us, that is backwards from what it is supposed to be. It is “inside out.” The Lord Jesus showed me this truth this morning in, perhaps, an unusual yet fitting way. He showed me these humanistic teachings and traditions of humans, which are being passed down from person to person, as like a deadly disease which is being spread between humans mouth to mouth. Jesus said that it is what comes out of us, from our hearts, which defiles us. It comes out in our attitudes and behaviors, but most often what is stored up in our hearts comes out of our mouths. Jesus also said that out of the overflow of our hearts our mouths speak (See Lu. 6:45). So, when we take in what others say, and we think about their words, and then we accept their words as truth, and then we pass them along to others, it is a whole lot like spreading a deadly disease mouth to mouth, if what is being taught is of man and not of God. And, this is especially true if what they are teaching is a man-made gospel which promises heaven absent of the cross of Christ in our lives. It is deadly, because we are condemning people to hell if we do not give them the truth. Tell Me the Story of Jesus / Fanny J. Crosby / John R. Sweney Tell me the story of Jesus, Write on my heart every word; Tell me the story most precious, Sweetest that ever was heard. Tell how the angels in chorus, Sang as they welcomed His birth, “Glory to God in the highest! Peace and good tidings to earth.” Fasting alone in the desert, Tell of the days that are past, How for our sins He was tempted, Yet was triumphant at last. Tell of the years of His labor, Tell of the sorrow He bore; He was despised and afflicted, Homeless, rejected and poor. Tell of the cross where they nailed Him, Writhing in anguish and pain; Tell of the grave where they laid Him, Tell how He liveth again. Love in that story so tender, Clearer than ever I see; Stay, let me weep while you whisper, “Love paid the ransom for me.” Tell me the story of Jesus, Write on my heart every word; Tell me the story most precious, Sweetest that ever was heard.