Title: Guilty and Bound in Sin but Christ has set you free!
Text: Mark 7: 14-16
14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 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.”
A man entered a bar, bought a glass of beer and then immediately threw it into the bartender's face. Quickly grabbing a napkin, he helped the bartender dry his face while he apologized with great remorse. "I'm so sorry," he said. "I have this compulsion to do this. I fight it, but I don't know what to do about it." "You had better do something about your problem," the bartender replied. "You can be sure I'll remember you and will never serve you another drink until you get help." It was months before the man faced the bartender again. When he asked for a beer, the bartender refused. Then the man explained that he had been seeing a psychiatrist and that his problem was solved. Convinced it was now okay to serve him, the bartender poured him a drink. The man took the glass and splashed the beer into the barkeeper's astonished face. "I thought you were cured," the shocked bartender screamed. "I am," said the man. "I still do it, but I don't feel guilty about it anymore."
Charles Sell, Unfinished Business, Multnomah, 1989, p. 223.
Now while this story is funny it is not to be our model for how we deal with our guilt as Christians. We are not to willingly continue in our active sinful behavior but just not feel guilty about it. But in our Gospel lesson today Jesus is dealing with guilt that is being placed upon people, from the outside.
14 “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 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.” (Mark 7:14-15)
In the Old Testament, Levitical impurity or ceremonial washings were of great importance but they no longer hold any value in the New Testament. Of far greater significance is the importance of the spiritual purity of a person and the impurity, that we in our human nature are bound to, wrestle with and know all too well.
The Christian value or standing of a person isn’t dependent upon the outward appearance. Whether one wears suites and formal attire or jeans and flannel shirts washes before meals or not, eats certain foods or not. All these Law based things are immaterial and have no effect where worship of the Lord is concerned. They may have proper hygiene and sanitary value, just as we have good and reasonable customs regarding how we dress or present ourselves in God’s house, our work or special occasions we attend. They do not concern the spiritual value of a person or their relationship to our Heavenly Father but, as Christ says, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him.” That which comes forth from a man, is what is apt to make him unclean and these things may disturb and cause the relationship between God and man to be severed. Jesus is making a very important point and one that He wants those hearing in our text today to know and understand.
Guilty and Bound in Sin but Christ has set you free!
So how about you and me? Does it matter whether we eat before coming to church of after? Or whether our breakfast is cold pizza and soda or Bran Flakes and milk? No. The point that Christ is making is that we are corrupt from our very core. We are broken and only fixed by the word of God and the work of Christ. King David knew this too, being confronted by the
prophet Nathan after he sinned with Bathsheba and sent her husband Uriah off to
the front and to certain death. The story of the pet lamb brought David’s sin
into the light of God’s condemnation and it is something that each one of us
can claim too for we are corrupt in our sinfulness.
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
(Psalm 51 vs.1-9)
What comes out of a man is what is bound into the human condition … sin.
Jesus says: 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
… Out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts … sexual immorality … theft (have you stolen anything?) murder (remember, Jesus said if you’ve even hated your brother you have broken this the fifth commandment: Matt 5:21) adultery, (cheating on a spouse, sex outside of marriage, living together – ask yourself this question: Is God for it or against it?) 22 coveting ( desiring that which another has) wickedness, deceit, ( wishing evil on another and seeing to it that it happens) sensuality ( Presented in advertising as a good thing. But from the dictionary we can read an example of how they use the word in a sentence: Those people appear to view sensuality as a necessary evil, and do not appear to abhor it as a crime in the unmarried state.) envy,( Being jealous of another’s possessions or place in life) slander,( saying something about another that will negatively affect them) pride,(being confident of yourself in your sin and continuing along the same path) foolishness. (all of the above) 23 All these evil things come from within and they defile a person.” As I go through this list with you - guilt and condemnation fall on both you and me alike.
Luther had this to say about our complete corruption:
“Your home, once the holiest of all, has become the most licentious den of thieves, the most shameless of all brothels, the kingdom of sin, death, and hell. It is so bad that even Antichrist himself, if he should come, could think of nothing to add to its wickedness.”
From The Freedom of a Christian, pg. 336 of Luther's Works, Vol. 31
Because of that we are: Guilty and Bound in Sin … but there is Good News that in Christ you have been washed clean and He has set you free!
Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled? (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him.
A little boy visiting his grandparents was given his first slingshot. He practiced in the woods, but he could never hit his target. As he came back to Grandma's back yard, he spied her pet duck. On an impulse he took aim and let fly. The stone hit, and the duck fell dead. The boy panicked. Desperately he hid the dead duck in the wood pile, only to look up and see his sister watching. Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing.
After lunch that day, Grandma said, "Sally, let's wash the dishes." But Sally said, "Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today. Didn't you, Johnny?" And she whispered to him, "Remember the duck!" So Johnny did the dishes.
Later Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing. Grandma said, "I'm sorry, but I need Sally to help make supper." Sally smiled and said, "That's all taken care of. Johnny wants to do it." Again she whispered, "Remember the duck." Johnny stayed while Sally went fishing.
After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally's, finally he couldn't stand it. He went and confessed to Grandma that he'd killed the duck. "I know, Johnny," she said, giving him a hug. "I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing. Because I love you, I forgave you. I wondered how long you would let Sally make a slave of you."
Christ has paid the price for the sins of the world. He has propitiated our sins (which is the act of atoning for sin or wrongdoing of delivering from sin or saving from evil- Christ’s work at the cross) but He has also expiated our sins (which is not only the act of paying the price of sin but it is a removal of the guilt associated with sin.) Christ has paid the price for your sin with His holy and precious blood. He has washed you clean of the sin that you were conceived in and born with. He removes the guilt of sin from your heart so that you can stand in the newness of life and proclaim the Good News that because of Jesus Christ you are free!
Christ has set you free … not to return to your sinful habits - but just not feeling guilty about it as the opening illustration suggested - but to truly start anew every day by remembering your baptism and the washing of forgiveness you received in water and the word and that you can remember your past – guiltless. When the Father sees you He sees Jesus.
Guiltless and Free! Bound in Sin and death no more!
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!