Spiritual Physiology

Mathew 15:10-20, Romans 14:14-23

... and all these things shall be added unto you

It is so obvious to the observant that people in general are preoccupied with the physical and external rather than the spiritual and eternal. You visit a home in a good area: the grass must be trimmed, the bushes tidied, the house painted. A meal is enjoyed, but if a small insect be found in the soup the hostess is mortified. Great care is taken by man with diets. There is a strong vegetarian movement with some. Others avoid artificial foods and great care is taken with Government legislation for the listing of ingredients on packages and identification of additives. Then exercise and fitness is the sole preoccupation of others.

There is no harm intrinsically in such precautions and exercises but Paul reminds us in our reading in Romans that the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink "but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." Thus our Lord in our portion today explains His parable in verse 11 with a lesson in spiritual physiology.

Here are two points from this lesson:

1. What goes in is not the problem.

While naturally Scripture elsewhere rightly condemns drunkenness and gluttony, the bare concept of eating and drinking is not the real problem for the spiritually fastidious. It is not the type of food or even whether our hands are washed or other physical circumstances that produce spiritual malaise. So a Christian must beware and keep those externals in perspective and not make them a matter for criticism or condemnation of others. This precisely was an area of hypocrisy in which the Pharisees excelled, and which led our Lord to describe them as blind leaders of the blind.

2. What comes out is the problem.

No, the problem is not with the normal processes of elimination but rather what comes out of the mouth from the heart. Look at the staggering list in verse 19. Who among us can say, "This is not me"? If you are not convicted, then you have a heart problem which cannot be solved with a visit to a cardiologist, but you need recourse to the Great Physician who knows you through and through.

FOR THOUGHT: Do I have particular practices which could become legalistic snares?

FOR PRAYER: "Search me, O God, and know my heart."