Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pentecost 13

This was given at an unnamed church close to my unnamed higher education institution. Today's readings were Psalm 51; Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9; Ephesians 6:10-20; and Mark 7:14-23 (sermon text).

In the Gospel reading, Jesus turns the tables on the hypocritical faultfinders. He declares all foods ceremonially clean, not able to defile a person. Neither filthy food, nor alcohol, nor anything we ingest - even if unhealthy - can defile us. The real problem, therefore, is the impurity of our hearts, the seriousness of our human situation. Apart from Him, our hearts are putrid. Even if we live otherwise uprightly, it is the sin committed by each of us - each of you - that makes the Old Adam in us abhorrent to God.

God's law is broken by both commission (doing bad) and omission (failing to do good). Trespasses are born of sinful thoughts coming from our hearts; these are what defiles us. No person is exempt. When we hear this sobering message from another's lips, we resist. We are not sinful because we sin; we sin because we are sinful.

Thank God! Our hope is not based in our hearts; it is based in God's heart! "Deliver us from evil," including the evil within. For this reason, He chose to become incarnate, the perfect Man, the God-Man, to take all our sins upon Himself without committing any sin Himself. He became sin for us! Therefore be strong in the Lord's strength. Use His gift-armor and weapon, His Word. Do not changes this Word, but pass it on, for it not only kills but also make alive. Be assured of your cleanness bestowed by God. For He is greater than your heart when it condemns you. Taste this sweet, clean Gospel.

Soli Deo gloria.

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