Don’t Give Up On Me
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 15:14 (Holman) “Leave them alone! They are blind guides. And if the blind guide the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
The religious leaders called themselves “leaders of the blind.” This was their demeaning way of referring to the common people, who they disdained.
Jesus upset the religious leaders’ apple cart by telling them they had no reason to brag. They were as blind as the people they condescendingly led.
The religious leaders presumed to advise the spiritually bankrupt, but were spiritual bankrupts themselves. They claimed they were trying to set spiritual prisoners free, but were spiritual prisoners in their own right. They could not lead or point people to Heaven because they did not know the way themselves.
The Pharisees thought they could see farther and better than anyone else, but they were wrong. Their self-righteousness kept them from their only hope to receive insight. Their pride resisted the spiritual eye salve Jesus applies.
Since Jesus is the only place to find help, and the Pharisees were refusing Him, they were thus left without hope. To reject Jesus is to reject the only remedy.
Jesus, realizing their rejection of Him was irreversible, pronounced fateful words over them, “Leave them alone!” Being abandoned to our own devices, and thus to God’s dreadful judgment, is a horrific doom. Being punished is not the worst punishment to receive. Being given up by God is. It is awful when God lets sinners have a belly-full of their sin. It brings sad, devastating consequences.
Never was Israel’s plight more dire than when God gave up on them. He told His prophet Jeremiah not to pray for them any more. “As for you, do not pray for these people. Do not offer a cry or a prayer on their behalf, and do not beg Me, for I will not listen to you. . . .I will not be listening when they call out to Me at the time of their disaster. . . .If they fast, I will not hear their cry of despair. If they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. Rather, I will finish them off by sword, famine, and plague” (JR 7:16; 11:14b; 14:12).
Never grow proud or self-righteous. Always humbly pray, “God, I know I’m not perfect. I have a long way yet to go. Please don’t give up on me.”
Matt. 15:15-18 Then Peter replied to Him, “Explain this parable to us.” “Are even you still lacking in understanding?” He asked. “Don’t you realize that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is eliminated? But what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this defiles a man.”
Our spiritual failures are revealed, but not caused, by external words and deeds. If an unconscious person were gorged till gluttonous, or sated till drunk, no guilt would accrue to the person. Inner lust for food and drink is what pollutes.
We cannot repeat it too often. True spirituality is a matter of the heart. “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life” (PR 4:23).
In the Bible, the heart refers to our whole inner self, what makes us what we are, our thoughts, attitudes, desires, our vibrant center, where life is really lived.
Never think inward evil thoughts are harmless. Internal bleeding can kill. Internal evil thinking can too. We might be tempted to think evil thoughts are no big deal, but if we don’t repent of them, and end them, they will make us stumble.
When David’s outward life fell apart–adultery, murder, cover-up–he cried out to God. Knowing exactly where his worst problem was, David prayed, “God, create a clean heart for me” (PS 51:10a). He knew the breakdown was inward.
Matt. 15:19-20 “For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. These are the things that defile a man, but eating with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”
Lest we think our inner control panel would never go too far awry, Jesus exposed for us its true possibilities. He didn’t describe “mild” sins, ones we deem trivial, but spoke pointedly about “gross” sins. He took what we call the worst sins, ones having huge consequences, and said they come out of human hearts.
The indictment against us is scathing. The heart spawns evil thoughts. It can have a bad conversation with itself that in turn leads to evil words and actions.
A guilty, bloody hand is not the cause of murder. It begins with a plotting, angry heart. Immodest clothes and physical beauty do not start adultery or sexual immorality. They begin not with the eye, but with lust in our innermost being.
Theft is not a product of sudden impulse, but the overflow of covetousness. Before Achan stole the forbidden cloak and gold, he coveted them (JS 7:20-21).
False testimonies and blasphemies don’t start at the lips, but in profane thoughts within. Be humbled, my friend. In your heart, in my heart, are planted seeds which could sprout into violations of commandments 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.
Every sin in word or deed is birthed in the heart. Outward temptations don’t cause sin; they only draw out what is already inside. Without kindling, temptation won’t spark. Bad tendencies don’t bubble up from us when they’re not in us first.
This sad truth about us affects our decision as to whether nature or nurture most influences our behavior. Nurture–society, education, right teaching, wrong training–does have a huge impact on us, but due to our inner spiritual dilemma, nature carries the day. Nurture influences, but the bedrock problem is the heart.
Interestingly, Jesus did not try to prove this premise. He asserted it as self-evident. Human sinfulness, a teaching much scorned in our open minded society, is the only major Christian doctrine proved true everywhere everyday in everyone.
This is why the USDA has 8,000 inspectors at slaughter houses and food processing centers. This is why every major industry in our country is watched by examiners. This is why you receive a clear colored cup when you order water at a restaurant (they’re watching you). This is why our constitution requires checks and balances, and why it has produced the oldest continuous government in the world. Our forebears understood and curbed the sinfulness of the human heart.
We never have to educate a person how to sin. There are schools for virtue, but none for vice. Children don’t have to go to school to learn evil thoughts. Children who have never seen an act of theft will steal. Children brought up in honesty will lie. In fact, the only tongue that never lied is the one that never spoke. No one needs training in how to do evil.
Amazingly, though the fact is observable and unquestionable, it is still often rejected. There’s no virtue in denying the obvious. The human heart is sinful.
This raises two questions. One, so what? What is your point, Preacher? Why does this matter? It warns us to guard our hearts. The cause of our sins is not outside us, but rooted deep within us.
Two, why? How did this come to be? We are often reluctant to say original sin causes committed sin; it seems almost inconceivable to believe God created us this way. Surely our good God, when He made us, would have created us perfect.
He did, but we chose a different path, and brought evil, pain, and chaos into our world. The doctrine of the Fall explains it all. Adam and Eve did what we all would have done. As our representatives, their actions were reckoned to us all.
Lest we be tempted to cry out “Unfair!!” let us remember at the cross God gave us another Representative, One whose actions can also be reckoned to us.
Everything Adam and Eve broke, Jesus came to fix. He did all we needed done. They passed to us heart trouble, original sin. Jesus forgives and defeats it.