We've got a lot to think about! I'd like to hear your responses to today's message. Here's a short synopsis . . .
When confronted by religious-types about his disciples not following the rules, Jesus responds by pointing out the shallow nature of the religious leaders' holiness. He accused them of creating man-made rules as measurements of holiness rather than the commands of God. He accused them of finding loop holes around real holiness. He accused them of boiling holiness down to what we look like and what we do rather than who we are.
Jesus later taught his disciples an overriding principle regarding holiness: it's not what goes in, but what comes out that defiles.
We often blame our sin on external circumstances - the portions were too big, the billboard too sexy, the watercooler friends too ready with juicy gossip. Jesus said that we can't blame what's on the outside; we need to look at our hearts.
Some parts of the message demand talking through, so get your small group in on the discussion, or invite a friend to lunch and thrash it out. Here are some questions to prompt your discussion:
- Have you thought about holiness in this way before? If not, what was different?
- We have lots of ways that we bend holiness to make it more comfortable or easier. Where have you seen evidence of this?
- Have you been guilty of making holiness easier? How?
- What role does "the world" play in our sin? Can we blame the world for our sin? Is it easier to sin now than it was fifty years ago? Why or why not?
- How do we become holy?
- Do you agree or disagree with my statement: "It is possible to be smoke, drink, swear, and dance and be holy"?
Now, about Mark 7:16, the missing verse: the best manuscripts of the early versions of the book of Mark do not include this verse. The verse reads: "If a man has ears to hear, let him hear." Of course, Jesus said this many times. It does seem a little out of place here, but being out of place is not a good reason to remove it. The fact remains that it's just not supported in the best manuscripts, so the NIV just dropped it.
Grace to you!