Monday, April 22, 2013

Garbage in, garbage out

In Matthew 15, the Pharisees asked Jesus why His disciples didn't wash their hands before they ate.  Now the Pharisees weren't talking about normal hand washing, like we do today before we eat.  The Pharisees had a ceremonial way to wash their hands and evidently the disciples' method of hand washing wasn't the "right way."

After answering their question with a question about parental support, Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites.  The Pharisees criticized the disciples for not following tradition, but they encouraged people to break one of the Ten Commandments by not honoring their parents.  Jesus gathered all the people to Him and told them that the food they ate did not defile them (thereby making all food clean), but what came out of their mouth did defile them.

Peter asked Jesus what He meant.  Here's what it says in Matthew 15:16-20 (all Scriptures NJKV unless otherwise referenced): "So Jesus said, 'Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile 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, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.'"

Things haven't changed since Jesus' time - people still have evil thoughts; they still commit murder, adultery, and fornication (i.e., sex outside the marital relationship); they still steal and lie; and they still use the Lord's name as a swear word.  Jesus used food as a way to explain what He meant since that was the easiest way for the people to understand, but I believe if He were walking the earth now, He would use TV shows, movies, books, popular music and magazines to make His point.

Just look at what TV shows, books, etc. the world follows.  They have lots of violence, sex, curse words, homosexual relationships, sexual relationships outside of marriage, etc. When people watch or read this stuff, it influences their behavior.  Take a look at the behavior of the world around us - there is lots of violence, crime, and bad behavior.  In more modern terminology, garbage in, garbage out. 

One of the first things I noticed about my husband after he got saved is that he stopped watching certain shows on TV because they were too raunchy.  When we get saved, our tastes in music, TV shows, books, magazines, etc. should change.  The desire to follow what the world follows should disappear. Paul gives us excellent instruction in Philippians 4:8 - "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." If we meditate and think about only good things, the bad things will hold no appeal for us and they will leave our mind.

Are born again Christians supposed to do what the world does?  The Bible says no.  We are to be separate from the world. Look at the book of Leviticus for an example.  God gave His people rules and statutes before they entered the Promised Land so that they would not behave like the pagan nations around them.  He wanted them to be holy and set apart for Him. In the New Testament, Paul instructs us in Romans 12:2, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." As to those who are in the world, Paul writes in Philippians 3:19, "whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things."

Are we Christians to curse or use bad language?  Of course not!  Ephesians 4:29 (NLT) says: "Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them." James 3:10 says: "Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so." We should also not use God's name as a curse word.  In Exodus 20, which lists the Ten Commandments, God tells us in verse 7 (NLT), “You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name." Psalm 139:20 (NLT) speaks of those who are worldly:  "They blaspheme you; your enemies misuse your name.."

We should do our very best not to put all this bad stuff into our minds.  However, sometimes our flesh wins out over our spirit and we watch or do things we're not supposed to. If we do mess up, we know that if we confess our sin to the Father, we will be forgiven. 

That's all for now.  Thanks for reading!  See you next time!