Matthew 15:17-20 “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. “There are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”
Orthodox Judaism had many rules and regulations that people were to follow to be acceptable according to the Law. One of these was ritual hand washing. It dated back to Exodus 30:17-21 where God instructed Moses to put a laver in the Tabernacle of meeting for Aaron and his sons to wash their hands and feet before going into the Tabernacle or when they would come near the altar to minister. When the Temple was destroyed, the table in a home came to represent the Temple alter. The bread placed on it symbolized the offerings that were once brought to the Priests. The Sages, who believed that the Temple and the Priesthood would be restored, did not want the practice of washing hands before handling an offering or performing a ritual to be forgotten, and so washing the hands before a meal was strictly enforced. At mealtime there were two ritual washings that were done; one before the meal known as “first waters” and one after the meal known as “last waters”. The scribes and Pharisees expected all Jews to adhere to the Law. When Jesus’ disciples didn’t wash their hands they questioned Jesus as to why. Jesus’ response to the Pharisees and scribes was that it wasn’t what entered the mouth that defiled a person, but it was what was in their hearts that came out that defiled them. The Pharisees and scribes placed more importance on the performance of the ritual of God’s Laws than the heart relationship to God. They were always trying to force people into ritualistic ways of keeping the Law so they could appear to be religious. This was just another way to try to prove that Jesus wasn’t who He said He was, the Son of God because He didn’t adhere to the Law.
What Jesus was saying to them was that the attitudes of the heart when acted upon reveal where a person is spiritually. What is in abundance in the heart will come out through the actions of the person and when it is something bad that is what identifies where the person is; whether spiritual or carnal.
The Greek word for “thoughts” in that verse means inward reasonings, consideration and deliberation, turning thoughts over in the mind. You see, the things that defile a person such as murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness and blasphemies all start with the thoughts. It is as those thoughts are mulled over in the mind, reasoned out as the thing to do, considered and deliberated on that they then become actions. People usually don’t just get up one morning and decide to go out and commit a murder, or some sexual act, or theft, or a false witness against someone, or a blasphemy against the Lord. They usually fantasize about them, justifying them in their minds before they actually commit them. It is as they grow in the mind, or the heart, that they eventually carry out what they’ve been thinking about.
Jesus said in Matthew 12:34 that it is “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” As things get bigger in the heart the mouth will speak them out and then the body follows with the action.
If the action of what is in abundance in the heart and spoken out the mouth can be viewed in the negative, it also can have a positive effect.
Yesterday we talked about abiding in the word and knowing the truth and being set free by that truth. If we put the word of God into our hearts in abundance then that is what will come out our mouths. It is as the word is developed in the heart and spoken out the mouth that the physical man will follow through in acting. The word of God brings freedom when mulled over in the mind, spoken of and acted on.
Joshua 1:8 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
God told Joshua to not let the word of God depart from his mouth. In other words, Joshua, don’t stop talking about God’s word. Meditate on it day and night and do what it says. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
Meditate – Hebrew word hagah – Strong’s #1897 – means to reflect; to moan, to mutter; to ponder; to make a quiet sound such as sighing; to meditate or contemplate something as one repeats the words. Hagah represents something quite unlike the English “meditation,” which may be a mental exercise only. In Hebrew thought, to meditate upon the Scriptures is to quietly repeat them in a soft, droning sound, while utterly abandoning outside distractions.
So, when we think of meditating on something, we are thinking about it, pondering over it and using our mind only in reflecting on it. But the Hebrew thought for meditation includes all of that plus speaking it out and repeating it over and over. Seeing, thinking and speaking the word would be the Hebrew thought for meditation. It is as you meditate on God’s word, thinking of it, reflecting on it’s meaning, and repeating it over and over that faith arises within your heart to believe what God has said in that particular portion of Scripture. This is the positive side of what Jesus was saying in Matthew 15:17-20. The evil thoughts in the person’s heart when meditated upon brought out the actions that defiled the person, but when the good thoughts of God’s word are meditated upon and acted upon the good that is within that Word becomes a reality for the positive in that person’s life.
James says this about the word in James 1:21, 22:
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
When you put away from you the filthiness and wickedness that defiles you and instead take into your hearts the word of God, it will bring salvation to your souls. The negative is then turned into a positive in your life and you become a doer of what you have heard instead of just a hearer. James encourages us to act on the word of God that we have heard. It strengthens your inner man!
Proverbs 4:20-22 My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh.
When our focus is on the word of God and we take the time to deposit it into our hearts, that word becomes life and health to our flesh.
The Hebrew word for “health” there is “marpe” and it means restoration of health, remedy, cure, medicine, tranquility, deliverance, and refreshing. The Word of God when meditated upon, spoken out of the mouth and acted upon brings health to your physical man. You want to get well from sickness and disease that has attacked your body? Then start taking the Word of God just like you would a prescription medication. Deposit into your heart the scriptures that speak of healing and wholeness, speak them out your mouth and then walk out your healing. Begin to see yourself well, speak the solution instead of the problem and act like a healed person. As you meditate on the scriptures you will find faith rising up within you and the word of God will become more real to you. When it becomes real in your heart you will begin to speak what the word says instead of what your symptoms are or what your doctor’s report says. I’m not saying that you deny the illness; but the diagnosis takes a back seat to what the word of God says. I’m not advising you to quit taking your medication, but instead begin to pray over it declaring that it will do what it is designed to do in making you well and that God’s word says you are the healed of the Lord. Your focus changes from seeing how big the problem is to seeing how big your God is.
This same principle applies to whatever need you have. If it is financial lack you begin to deposit within your heart the scriptures on God’s provision for your finances. Dwell or meditate on them, speak them, and then act on them, making good financial decisions and watch your finances change. God is for you, not against you. He brings healing and wholeness into people’s finances all the time. Word with Him to bring healing to the area of your life where it is needed.
God’s word will work for you if you will work with it! There are scriptures to meet every need that you will ever have.
Father, I thank You for Your word! I pray today that You will show my friends the word of God that they need to meet the need in their lives. Father, You have equipped us for success through Your word. May we take it like a prescription medication so it will have the effect of healing in our lives. Thank You, for revealing Your word to us so we can be set free. May we abide in it until it becomes the life that we need right now to meet our needs. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.