Mark 7:1-23




King David felt dirty.  Very dirty.  Filthy.  He had committed adultery with his best friend’s wife.  He had then killed that best friend to cover up for the pregnancy he started.  He felt dirty.  And he was dirty.  He had done something dirty.  He had thought dirty thoughts.  He had spoken dirty words.


So David blurted out to his forgiving God who still called him “a man after my own heart”, “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin…Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”  And our good God did this for David.  He cleansed him and cleaned him and set him free.  He took away all David’s dirty sins.  He actually died for all dirty sins.  He, in fact, got dirty himself so that David could get clean.


That is the way it is with sin.  It makes us dirty.  Your sin makes you dirty.  Your sin makes you feel dirty too.  The apostle says, “Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And that is what some of you were.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  1 Corinthians 6:9-11  And if “idolaters” or “male prostitutes” doesn’t fit you, then how about swindler---little dishonesties to your advantage---or greedy?   Those sins of swindler and grasping (greedy) don’t seem as dirty as the other things there, but God bunches them all in one basket of dirty laundry.  But those words are there, “But you were washed!”  


God challenges our way of thinking about dirt and cleanliness in this section of his Word.  He says it is the things on the inside that make a person dirty.  We don’t understand that from our world.  We always hear that it is what is outside that makes a person dirty.  In an operating room, the doctors all assume that it is what is on the outside that contaminates what is on the inside.  So they wear gloves and gowns and disinfect (cleanse) their hands and themselves.  God says it is the very opposite that is true spiritually.  It is the inside that is infected and dirty: “Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him.  Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.’”  “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.  All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’”  Another place says, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is in my sinful nature.”


It is what is on the inside that counts.  You can put anything on the outside.  There are many facades that will make your face appear clean…and your heart.  But they are just window dressing---window cleaning.  David was concerned with his heart when he got dirty.  He said, “Create in me a clean heart O God and renew a right spirit within me.” You are what you are because of what is on the inside.

Christians are clean on the inside.  It feels good.  It is happy.  This is one thing you can say about Christians.  They live because they have been made clean on the inside.  The infection has been overcome.  The bad taken away.  The dirt cleansed.  Jesus did it all.  He washed us.  He scrubs our dirty souls clean.  He did it for the thief on the cross who was “getting what his deeds deserved.”  It didn’t take him long, but Jesus got his hands free from the cross that day and took the dirty soul of the thief by him and scrubbed the soul clean.  He did it with his dying.  He did it with his love.  He did it with his words, “It is finished.”  The cleansing was finished!  The thief’s!  For the dirty trick of heaping insults on the dying Savior, like the thief had done.  Now he was clean!  Now heaven was promised to him.  And for all your dirty tricks against God---dirty deeds, dirty words, dirty thoughts---Jesus has cleansed your soul too.


An awful thing has happened though.  It threatens clean Christians too.  It threatens clean Christians like you with getting dirty again.  It is just as dangerous as Peter makes it out to be when he says, “Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and ‘A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.’”  2 Peter 2:22


In the world you live in, clean becomes a dirty word and dirty becomes a clean word.  This is a great problem and work of the devil.  He takes what is clean and makes it dirty.  Like he does with marriage or with sex or with good humor or entertainment.   He delights in taking otherwise clean stories of human activity and action and putting dirt there that after you have watched it makes you feel dirty and even makes you dirty.  People who watch R movies come away soiled.  They can’t help it.  They are like Peter’s pig above.


Do you see how it is?


Think of the effort today to make things (people) clean.  Soaps, handsoaps, body soaps, shampoos, cleaners, laundries, disinfectants, in medical place, the little things that sterilize hands, rubber gloves to keep hands clean when doing dirty work, aprons, suits of clothing that keep from contaminations, car washes, street cleaners, the vacuum cleaner industry, stain and spot removers, hazardous waste removals, the garbage industry, housecleaning businesses, business cleaning businesses. You even hear in the words before us from the first century A.D. that there was a flourishing cleaning culture in existence at the time of Jesus: “The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders.  When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash.  And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.  


And yet the world that is so obsessed with cleanliness on the outside is absolutely dirty on the inside…even delights on being dirty.  It’s cute.  It’s naughty.  It’s “the way we are.”  It’s us!  Kind of like “Sins-R-Us!”  “Dirt-Is-Us!”  There are non-stop comedy channels on cable television dedicated to making people dirty.  Everything they say is tainted.  Off color is the only color.  The Scripture is fulfilled that says: Their glory is in their shame. (Philippians 3:19)  And dear and clean Christian, that dirt can infect you too and make you dirty…if you let it.

Dirt is offensive to God.  He told a story about a man who had a great celebration and invited many guests.  And the people showed up in their work clothes!  They despised the clean clothes that he gave them.  The man said to one of the soiled ones at his banquet, “How did you get in here without clean clothes on…without a wedding garment?”  And then the harsh words followed, “Get this one out of here.  Throw him into the darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.  How dare he dirty my place.  Yes, dirt is offensive to God and he makes a big point out of saying that to us today.  There is no dirt in heaven.  There is no uncleanness there.  There is no one with a dirty mind or dirty hands who is there.


Life in this world is a dirty business.  Christians are grieved when they see themselves besmirched and bespattered by what goes on around them and by what they do to themselves.  


That is why your baptism is such a wonderful thing.  It is your ongoing cleansing before God.  Remember what he calls your baptism---that jewel he gave you to see its clean sparkling every day of your life.  He calls your baptism “a washing of r


Baptism is so wonderful in this regard.  It is a “washing.”  Titus 3:5 says about your baptism, “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and the renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.”  You live in the water of this baptism every day.  It washes you clean.  It keeps you clean.  It provides all the cleaning you will ever need for your whole life.  Remember the passage with the dirt in it that said, “And that is what some of you were.”  But remember also the words, “But you were washed…”


And in Jesus’ very description of marriage and its responsibilities and roles he says to you and me, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”  Ephesians 6:26,27  


It says in Romans 16:27, “To the only wise God…”  We can on the basis of our words today also say, “To the only clean God.”  And through his washing which we have we can say, looking around us, “To the only clean people!”


Thank God for his gift!  Amen.