And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”
(Matthew 15:10-20 ESV)
Over the past couple of days we’ve studied a passage in which Jesus explained that what the people were believing was actually false and, contrary to what they thought, harmed their relationship with God. When the Pharisees heard Jesus say this they were offended.
Being offended is a common reaction non-Christians have to what the Bible says. When people read/hear that God says all of us are depraved sinners and that there is nothing we can do to rectify that, [Ecclesiastes 7:20; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10] they take offense.
The Pharisees reaction was to eliminate Jesus [Matthew 12:14]. Two-thousand years later, people take the same approach. In our culture we are rapidly removing Jesus because He is offensive.
Jesus, who was God, does offend people. In fact, He intentionally offends people by attacking our pride and proving our beliefs to be wrong. He does this because He loves us and wants us to know the truth. The fact that we are offended should be the motivation we need to reevaluate our beliefs, realize we are wrong, and repent.
Being offended is a signal that there is an error in our way of thinking. We are offended because our pride has been hurt. But it is exactly our pride – our love of self and belief that we are good and belief that we are right – that God wants to eliminate. There is no other way to do this than to offend us.
The alternative would be to do what the world is currently doing – condoning everyone’s beliefs and lifestyle so as to not offend anyone. We are suppressing God’s word thinking we are doing people a favor. But we are doing just the opposite. We are harming them irreparably by blinding them to their own sin, as Jesus pointed out yesterday.
This happens in many areas of life but probably the most obvious in our culture today is homosexuality. God calls homosexuality sin. The gay community gets offended at this. The result is our culture moves to suppress such teaching either legally or through peer pressure (e.g. social media) thinking we are being progressive and loving. But this is a lie.
Telling the Pharisees that their understanding of God was wrong was the most loving thing Jesus could do. Not to do so would be to leave them to their ignorance. But that would only mean that they would remain distant from God and end up in hell after they die. This is not what God wants [2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:3-4].
Like Jesus, Christians need to be willing to tell people God’s truth, even if it will offend them, for there is no other way for people to be saved [Acts 4:11-12]. To be sure, we must do it in a way that demonstrates conern for their eternity, not disdain for their present. But suppressing God’s truth should never be an option.
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