THE HEART OF THE PROBLEM IS THE PROBLEM OF THE HEART
Intro: Ill. I have here an old pocket watch. It looks like any other pocket
watch. It has a case, hands and a face. It has a chain and all the requisite
parts that are necessary for it to carry out its function as a timepiece.
However, there is a problem with this watch. You see, it just won't run!
Why not? It won't run because it has a problem with its heart. Inside this
case, there is a spring that is the heart of this watch. That spring is
essential to the proper operation of this watch as a timepiece. That spring,
the heart of this watch, is defective! The heart of the problem with this
watch is a problem of the heart of this watch.
There are plenty of people in the church and in religious circles who are
just like this watch. On the outside the look fine. They appear to be
religious and they do good things, but they cannot function as they were
designed to function. They cannot truly worship God and bring glory to Him
because they have a problem that cannot be readily seen by a mere surface
inspection of their life. They have a problem with their heart!
Now, the fact of the matter is this: I do not know who has a problem with
their heart and who does not! I do not know who in this room is redeemed
and who is merely religious. In fact, I would venture to say that some
people in this room do not even know their own heart. Some may think they
are redeemed, when in fact they may still be lost in sin.
While I do not know your heart, God does! He knows all about what is
inside of you and me. He knows what makes us tick! In this passage,
Jesus deals with some people who are suffering from heart trouble and don't
even know it. But, He does, and He takes the time to expose the true
nature of their hearts. As He does, He also gives us some principles by
which we can look at our own heart and determine if there may be a
problem with it.
Today, I want to take a look at this passage. I want to point out three
principles that are given to us here by the Lord Jesus. These principles
expose the human heart. They show us how the heart works and why it is
so dangerous to trust it in spiritual matters. If you have never taken a close
look at your own heart, this might be a good opportunity to do so. Join me
in these verses as we think together about the thought: The Heart Of The
Problem Is The Problem Of The Heart.
I. V. 1-6 YOUR HEART IS A POOR STUDENT OF GOD'S WORD - WHAT IT CORRUPTS
A. Ill. The context. By their traditions, the scribes and Pharisees had
elevated their human traditions above God's Law. (Ill. The Mishnah
- This was an oral interpretation of the Law of God. Over time, this
oral tradition was expanded to some 4,000 plus rules and
regulations that covered every aspect of Jewish life. Included in this
oral tradition were elaborate rules regarding external cleanliness,
especially cleanliness related to the hands. Some of the Jews
actually believed that demons sat in your hands during the night. To
fail to wash and then eat with your hands was to take into your body
this demonic force. Of course, the Pharisees were also concerned
lest they be defiled by touching something that had been touched by
a "sinner". They believed that what got on the hands was brought
into the body and defiled it.)
B. Their problem was that these men had strained out a gnat and
swallowed a camel! They were concerned about the fact that
disciples did not wash their hands before they ate. But, Jesus
shined the spotlight of truth on their real problem. They did not keep
the Law because they loved God, they kept the Law and the
traditions of the elders for personal advantage. Verses 3-6 point this
out in stark detail! These men, by their traditions, had found a way
to circumvent the Law when it came to dealing with their parents.
(Ill. The Law of Corban - Mark 7:9-13 - The Jews would say that all
their personal property had been dedicated to the Lord. This made
them look spiritual and relieved them of their responsibility to care for
their parents. They could say, "I don't have anything I can give
you, it all belongs to the Lord." Of course, this did not stop them
from using the money for their personal needs and wants!)
C. Here is the real problem with the human heart: It is a poor student
of the Word of God! It will take God's truth and twist it, change it
and rearrange it to make it fit into a box that is pleasing. All you
have to do is find you a version that reads the right way, find you a
preacher or teacher who explains it like you want to hear it, or look
for an interpretation that lines up with your lifestyle. (Note: It is
possible to err on both sides of this issue. Some err in the path
towards license and others err in the path toward legalism!)
D. In effect, this is rank humanism! It allows man to live as he pleases
without regard for what God says about any matter. As long as you
can justify it, then you are all set. The problem here is this: when
you live with this kind of heart, you are forfeiting God's best for your
life. Until we can come to the place where we can silence our hearts
and take God's Word as our standard for living, we will never be all
He wants us to be! We will always be trying to get to heaven by our
own efforts. We will always be trying to live to our own standards.
We will always be living lives that claim to please God, but that really
only please self!
II. V. 7-14 YOUR HEART IS A MASTER OF DISGUISE - WHAT IT CONCEALS
A. As Jesus continues His words to these religious men, He quotes
from the words of the prophet Isaiah, Isa. 29:3. He tells them that
their hearts have deceived them into thinking they are something
they are not! He calls them by a very strong word, "hypocrites".
This is a word that literally means, "an actor, a pretender." These
men really believe that they are honestly and devotedly serving God,
but Jesus tells them that they are merely actors, playing a part
dictated to them by their deceptive hearts.
B. Jesus reminded these men of two truths that we need to hear loudly
and clearly this morning.
1. A Religious Showing Does Not Indicate Spiritual Worship v.
8 - Just because a person goes to church, sings the songs, bows
in prayer and listens to a sermon does not mean that they have
truly worshiped! Just because you go to church and do churchy
things does not mean that you are genuinely saved! You see,
every person in this room is religious. That is evident from the
fact that they are in church today. But, not every person here
has been redeemed! Only those who have trusted Jesus as
their personal Savior can claim that blessing, John 3:3; John
2. Genuine Worship Is Always Grounded In God's Truth - v. 9 -
Just because you went to a church and got pumped up by some
loud preacher does not mean that you had worship! Just
because you did it the same way this week as your forefathers
did 200 years ago does not mean you worshiped. You
worshiped when you encountered God as He is revealed to us
in His Word! You worshiped when your spirit was moved by His
Spirit through the proclamation of His truth, John 4:24. You
can't even claim to know God until you have come to Him His
way! Regardless of what your heart tells you, to think you are
saved when you are not is the ultimate in self-deception, Matt.
C. These Pharisees believed in their hearts that they knew the Lord.
However, Jesus lets us in on the real truth of the matter! They were
not saved, they were merely blind leaders of the blind and they were
all headed to judgment and to destruction, v. 13-14. They had been
deceived by that Master of Deception: the human heart!
D. Friend, it is always dangerous to trust your heart! The Bible tells us
that it will deceive you, Jer. 17:9. The only One Who knows the
heart is the Lord, Jer. 17:10. You are far better off to trust the Word
of God, it will never lie to you! You see, if you have never bowed to
Jesus, confessed yourself a sinner and received Him into you life,
you are just like those Pharisees. You may think everything is all
right. You may think you are a child of God. You may think you
genuinely worship the Lord, but you may be genuinely wrong! (Ill.
When we were children, we used to play "'tend like". You could
"'tend like" you were anything. Sadly, many people play "'tend like"
with their salvation. They play "dress up" on Sunday and they look
just like the saints. They sing like them. They pray like them. They
even talk like them. But they are not part of them because their
hearts are not right with God! Drawing near to God with their lips,
but in truth, they are miles away in their hearts!) Your heart is a
master of deception and disguise! Never trust it!
III. V. 15-20 YOUR HEART IS A WINDOW INTO YOUR SOUL - WHAT IT CONFESSES
A. What the heart conceals from the individual it reveals to others!
Jesus plainly says that it is not the externals that is, the forms and
rituals of religion, that save us, it is an internal work of God in the
heart. The Pharisees thought that cleaning up the outer man would
take care of the inner man. However, Jesus says the opposite is
true! What you do on the outside does not affect who you are on the
inside! In fact, Jesus tells us that it is not what we eat or drink that
defiles us as the Pharisees believed, but the real seat of defilement
is in our own hearts! All of the evils men do have their origin in the
heart. That is why what you do says all there is to say about your
walk with the Lord! (Note: This does not give us a license to sin!
Because what we do is determined by who we are. Not the other
B. In light of that truth, John 14:15 makes more sense! If your heart is
in love with the Lord, then you will have no problem in living for Him.
If, however, your life is characterized by the things Jesus mentions
in verse 19 and in Mark 7:21-22, then it is proof positive that you
have been taken in by the lies of your heart!
C. Our attitudes and actions say far more about us than we wish they
did. Your heart is a window into your soul. It serves as a barometer
of your true spiritual condition! When the heart is right, there will be
love for God evidenced by genuine worship and heartfelt work that
honors and glorified Him, 1 Cor. 10:31; Eph. 2:10; James 2:18.
When the heart is lost, there may be much religious activity, but the
rest of life will not line up with what the mouth confesses! As Hank
Williams said, "your cheating heart will tell on you!"
Conc: I want to close by pointing out a few contrasts between external
religion and internal redemption:
1. External Religion says "be clean physically and morally". Internal
Redemption says, "Be born again and made into a new creature!"
2. E.R. says "A clean exterior makes a clean interior." I.R. says "when
the inside gets clean, it will clean up the outside."
3. E.R. says "You must develop some rules to govern your behavior."
I.R. says "I love God, therefore I will live right!"
4. E.R. says "Be faithful to your church, its practices and its teaching
and you will be clean." I.R. says "Be cleansed by Jesus and you will
be faithful to your church, its practices and its teachings."
5. E.R is a man made system of ritual, ceremony, law and work. I.R is a
work of God in the heart that produces a new creature!
Remember my broken watch? I can have it fixed. A good watchmaker
can repair the problem in the heart of this watch and make right again. If
there is a problem in your heart this morning, Jesus Christ can take it like it
is and He can make it like it ought to be! According to the prophet Ezekiel,
God can take away our faulty "hearts of stone" and replace them with new
ones that will beat in turn with God's own heart, Eze. 36:26. He can save
us from the deceptive work of our own heart!