Out of the heart - In the heart of an unregenerate man, the principles and seeds of all sin are found. And iniquity is always conceived in the heart before it be spoken or acted. Is there any hope that a man can abstain from outward sin till his heart, that abominable fountain of corruption, be thoroughly cleansed? I trow not.
Evil thoughts - Διαλογισμοι πονηροι, wicked dialogues - for in all evil surmisings the heart holds a conversation, or dialogue, with itself. For φονοι, murders, two MSS. have φθονοι, envyings, and three others have both. Envy and murder are nearly allied: the former has often led to the latter.
Blasphemies - I have already observed, Matthew 9:3, that the verb βλασφημεω, when applied to men, signifies to speak Injuriously of their persons, characters, etc., and, when applied to God, it means to speak Impiously of his nature, works, etc.
See also Mark 7:17-23.
Then answered Peter, and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable - See the notes at Matthew 13:3. The word “parable” sometimes means a dark or obscure saying, Psalm 78:2. Peter meant, “Explain to us more fully this obscure and novel doctrine.” To us, now, it is plain; to the disciples, just coming out of Judaism, the doctrine of Jesus was obscure. Mark says that the disciples asked him. There is no contradiction. The question was put by Peter in the name of the disciples; or several of them put the question, though Matthew has mentioned only one. An omission is not a contradiction.
Are ye also yet without understanding? - Jesus appeals, in explaining this, to their common sense; and he wonders that they had not yet learned to judge the foolish traditions of the Jews by the decisions of common sense and by his own instructions.
Do ye not understand - The meaning of this may be thus expressed: The food which is eaten does not affect the mind, and therefore cannot pollute it.
The doctrine of the Pharisees, that neglect of washing and of similar observances defiles a man, cannot be true. Those things pertain to the body as much as food does, and they cannot affect the soul. That must be purified by something else than external washing, and it is polluted by other things than a neglect of mere outward ceremonies. The seat of corruption is within - it is the heart itself; and if people would be made pure, this must be cleansed. If that is corrupt, the whole man is corrupt.
Christ proceeds to state what does defile the man, or render him a sinner:
1. “Evil thoughts” These are the first things - these are the fountains of all others. Thought precedes action. Thought, or purpose, or motive, gives its character to conduct. All evil thoughts are here intended. Though we labor to suppress them, yet they defile us. They leave pollution behind them.
2. “Murders.” Taking the life of others with malice. The malice has its seat in the heart, and the murder therefore proceeds from the heart, 1 John 3:15.
4. “Thefts.” Theft is the taking and carrying away the goods of others without their knowledge or consent. Thefts are caused by coveting the property of others. They proceed, therefore, from the heart, and violate at the same time two commandments - the tenth commandment in thought and the eighth commandment in act.
5. “False witness.” Giving wrong testimony. Concealing the truth, or stating what we know to be false - a violation of the ninth commandment. It proceeds from a desire to injure others, to take away their character or property, or to do them injustice. It proceeds thus from the heart.
6. “Blasphemies.” See the notes at Matthew 9:3. Blasphemy proceeds from opposition to God, hatred of his character Romans 8:7, and from a desire that there should be no God. It proceeds from the heart. See Psalm 14:1. Mark adds several things to those enumerated by Matthew:
(a) “Covetousness.” The unlawful desire of what others possess, this always proceeds from the heart.
(b) “Wickedness.” The original here means malice, or a desire of injuring others, Romans 1:29.
(c) “Deceit,” i. e., fraud, concealment, cheating in trade. This proceeds from a desire to benefit ourselves by doing injustice to others, and this proceeds from the heart.
(d) Lasciviousness. Lust, obscenity, unbridled passion - a strong, evil desire of the heart.
(e) “An evil eye.” That is, an eye that is sour, malignant, proud; or an eye of lust and passion. See Matthew 5:28; Matthew 20:15; 2 Peter 2:14, “Having eyes full of adultery, that cannot cease from sin.”
(f) “Pride.” An improper estimate of our own importance; thinking that we are of much more consequence than we really are. This is always the work of an evil heart.
(g) “Foolishness.” Not a lack of intellect - man is not to blame for that - but a moral folly, consisting in choosing evil ends and the bad means of gaining them; or, in other words, sin and wickedness. All sin is folly. It is foolish for a man to disobey God, and foolish for anyone to go to hell.
These are the things which defile a man - These are the true sources of pollution in man.
These are what corrupt and degrade. It is not the neglect of washing the body which defiles; it is the deep, inward corruption of the heart. And what a fountain of pollution is the human soul! What an array of crimes to proceed from the heart of man! What a proof of guilt! What strictness is there in the law of God! How universal is depravity!
Never, by word or deed, did Jesus lessen man's obligation to present gifts and offerings to God. It was Christ who gave all the directions of the law in regard to tithes and offerings. When on earth He commended the poor woman who gave her all to the temple treasury. But the apparent zeal for God on the part of the priests and rabbis was a pretense to cover their desire for self-aggrandizement. The people were deceived by them. They were bearing heavy burdens which God had not imposed. Even the disciples of Christ were not wholly free from the yoke that had been bound upon them by inherited prejudice and rabbinical authority. Now, by revealing the true spirit of the rabbis, Jesus sought to free from the bondage of tradition all who were really desirous of serving God. DA 397.1
“Ye hypocrites,” He said, addressing the wily spies, “well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoreth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” The words of Christ were an arraignment of the whole system of Pharisaism. He declared that by placing their requirements above the divine precepts the rabbis were setting themselves above God. DA 397.2
The deputies from Jerusalem were filled with rage. They could not accuse Christ as a violator of the law given from Sinai, for He spoke as its defender against their traditions. The great precepts of the law, which He had presented, appeared in striking contrast to the petty rules that men had devised. DA 397.3Read in context »
To every one who is tempted to indulge appetite I would say, Yield not to temptation, but confine yourself to the use of wholesome foods. You can train yourself to enjoy a healthful diet. The Lord helps those who seek to help themselves; but when men will not take special pains to follow out the mind and will of God, how can He work with them? Let us act our part, working out our salvation with fear and trembling,—with fear and trembling lest we make mistakes in the treatment of our bodies, which, before God, we are under obligation to keep in the most healthy condition possible.—The Review and Herald, February 10, 1910 CD 35.1
39. Those who would work in God's service must not be seeking worldly gratification and selfish indulgence. The physicians in our institutions must be imbued with the living principles of health reform. Men will never be truly temperate until the grace of Christ is an abiding principle in the heart. All the pledges in the world will not make you or your wife health reformers. No mere restriction of your diet will cure your diseased appetite. Brother and Sister ----- will not practice temperance in all things until their hearts are transformed by the grace of God. CD 35.2Read in context »
Oh, how many things have developed since he became so full of hatred against God because his dangers and wrongs were brought before him! He has allowed wicked thoughts to strengthen and prevail because, day by day, he has not eaten of the flesh and drunk of the blood of the Son of God, because he has not become a partaker of the divine nature. The things which come from within defile the man. How corrupt then must be the source from which these evils have taken their rise! TM 409.1
Unsanctified ministers are arraying themselves against God. They are praising Christ and the god of this world in the same breath. While professedly they receive Christ, they embrace Barabbas, and by their actions say, “Not this Man, but Barabbas.” Let all who read these lines, take heed. Satan has made his boast of what he can do. He thinks to dissolve the unity which Christ prayed might exist in His church. He says, “I will go forth and be a lying spirit to deceive those that I can, to criticize, and condemn, and falsify.” Let the son of deceit and false witness be entertained by a church that has had great light, great evidence, and that church will discard the message the Lord has sent, and receive the most unreasonable assertions and false suppositions and false theories. Satan laughs at their folly, for he knows what truth is. TM 409.2Read in context »
Jesus continued: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” By nature the heart is evil, and “who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.” Job 14:4. No human invention can find a remedy for the sinning soul. “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Romans 8:7; Matthew 15:19. The fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become pure. He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. There is no safety for one who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness. The Christian's life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit. DA 172.1
Nicodemus was still perplexed, and Jesus used the wind to illustrate His meaning: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.” DA 172.2
The wind is heard among the branches of the trees, rustling the leaves and flowers; yet it is invisible, and no man knows whence it comes or whither it goes. So with the work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart. It can no more be explained than can the movements of the wind. A person may not be able to tell the exact time or place, or to trace all the circumstances in the process of conversion; but this does not prove him to be unconverted. By an agency as unseen as the wind, Christ is constantly working upon the heart. Little by little, perhaps unconsciously to the receiver, impressions are made that tend to draw the soul to Christ. These may be received through meditating upon Him, through reading the Scriptures, or through hearing the word from the living preacher. Suddenly, as the Spirit comes with more direct appeal, the soul gladly surrenders itself to Jesus. By many this is called sudden conversion; but it is the result of long wooing by the Spirit of God,—a patient, protracted process. DA 172.3Read in context »
The Mind and Spiritual Warfare—Our improvement in moral purity depends on right thinking and right acting. “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.” “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man” (Matthew 15:11, 19, 20). 1MCP 69.1Read in context »