Matthew 15:11, 19, 20
Not that which goes into the mouth defiles a man; but that which comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.…
It is quite possible to exaggerate in presenting the teachings of our Lord in these verses. We do so if we make too absolute the distinction between what goes into a man and what comes out of a man. Our Lord's illustration needs to be kept within its natural and proper limits. The Pharisees had objected to the disciples eating their bread with unwashen hands, their notion being that something causing ceremonial defilement might be upon their hands, and this taken in with the bread would make them ceremonially unclean. It was a ridiculous subtlety, and yet it had become quite an established notion. It was best met by such scorn as Jesus poured upon it. You cannot defile a man's soul by putting some dirt into his food; that may bring on disease in the man's body, but it cannot defile the man himself. Our Lord strikes hard at the insincerities of the Pharisee class, who were foul in speech, unclean in life, and self-seeking in relations, however anxious they were about ceremonial defilement. What came out of them - their speech, conduct, relations - these defiled them.
I. THE SECRET OF HUMAN DEFILEMENT IS THE WRONG INSIDE A MAN. A man is very largely responsible for the contents of his mind. True, he may have been placed in circumstances beyond his control which have brought evil associations; but the law is always working, that the things only are retained and effective on which attention is continuously and persistently fixed. Then we must have fixed our attention on what our minds now have in them, and so we must be responsible for their contents. Can we bear to look at the actual contents of our minds? How utterly unimportant ceremonial defilements seem in view of this real evil! A man is in a state of defilement, heart defilement, to begin with. From this may be shown the absolute need of regeneration.
II. THE FURTHER SECRET OF HUMAN DEFILEMENT IS THAT THIS INSIDE WRONG GETS STRENGTHENED BY EXPRESSION. If the foul things inside a man would just stay quiet, things would not be so serious. But they are persistently active, ever trying to get expression, to say something or to do something. And they become stronger and more active by every expression. How that which comes out of a man defiles him may be shown by indicating the way in which a foul thought, gaining utterance in a foul speech, becomes an act of the will; the man is made foul thereby. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.