Mark 7:15 Jesus said, “There is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man.”
Our world is marked by violent crime, domestic abuse, sex trafficking, and a great many other degrading experiences. Women frequently suffer the brunt of this evil, and the long-term emotional and spiritual impact can crush the soul. On the other hand, we’ve all done things of our own choosing which also shame us.
Things happen to us…and then define us.
Perhaps we made poor choices and felt defiled by our own actions. Perhaps we have experienced coercion or abuse from others. But before we realize what has happened, we start to view ourselves as dirty, defiled, degraded, unwanted, or unworthy.
In a moment of profound wisdom (no great surprise!) Jesus shifts the focus of attention. Rather than judge the action, He places emphasis on the heart. We can be so glad! I cannot undo what I have done. My past actions, even just an hour ago, are fixed in time. I cannot change them. But my heart, if open to Christ, can always change.
What Jesus says about defilement provides good news for us all. My actions may have defiled me in the past, but my heart can be purified and I can be restored in the present. Past choices do not fix my destiny. Because of Christ — because of grace — a fresh beginning and a fresh opportunity always lies before us (Psalm 51:10).
If you feel crushed by shame — and don’t we all at some time? — these words in Mark 7:15 provide hope. Our past actions or experiences no longer define us, if we yield ourselves to Christ. Sexting, porn, drugs, divorce, crime, and violence are yesterday’s news. They need not determine today’s identity.
The heart may defile us, but if the Holy Spirit, because of Christ, transforms us by the renewing of our minds, then defilement belongs only to our past. Christ continues to present His Bride (us) pure and spotless to the Father.
This is both grace and true freedom. Today, we do well not only to receive such a gift but also to extend it to others.