“For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All of these evils come from inside and make a man unclean.” Mark 7:21-23

This is part two to the previous post from the Gospel of Mark, in which I talked about, how “Matters of the heart” can be difficult. We do the hard work of understanding our motives and intent in all acts of our lives; especially when it come to the worship of God.

For this post I wanted to spend some more time on the above verse which talks about the origin of evil; the hearts of people. In Scripture there are many places that talk about guarding your heart. When you guard your heart you don’t allow anything to penetrate it. So you build up the walls around your heart and let nothing in. The evil, the world and our sinful desires is often the things we are guarding our hearts from allowing to get in. But is that the source of the real problem?

Jesus says that from within the hearts of man come evil thoughts, desires, etc. We build up the walls around our hearts so that nothing can get in. But, is it all in vain if the problem really is our heart in the first place?

It reminds me of the Trojan War when the Greeks were trying bring down Troy. Major cities in that day and age were identified by their use of walls to secure their people. The bigger the city, the bigger the walls. The walls kept the enemy out and all the good in. The Greeks approached Troy and knew that it was going to be near impossible to bring the city down by attacking the outside. After unsuccessfully trying to attack from the outside, they devised a plan to get inside. They built a huge wooden horse (like the one in the picture above) and gave it to Troy as a present. The city of Troy took that wooden horse into their city where it sat for the night. Unsuspectingly, the Greeks had hidden inside the horse and got out late at night and started the war from within the walls. The Greeks won the battle and it was not fought from outside but inside the city. “Trojan Horse” has come to mean any trick that causes a target to invite an enemy into a securely protected space, where it will be defeated.

Our hearts should be on guard from all evil that attempts to attack from the outside. But it is much more commonplace that evil is birthed right from the place that we have built the walls. Listen to what James has to say in this matter:

“But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:14-15

The heart contains all kinds of evil. The evil desires start in the heart, once they ‘give birth’ it becomes sin, sin then snowballs to an all-consuming death. Where does that all start? From the heart! We can build the walls up around our hearts believing they will protect out hearts. But listen to Jesus again “All of these evils come from inside and make a man unclean.” Destruction often comes by our own hand. We rely on our heart to make decisions…we trust our heart to find love. Our hearts justify our sin, instead of dirt and filth we see roses and cleanliness. All because of our heart.

So what can we do to make sure that our hearts are clean and pure, so that nothing evil comes from it? Absolutely Nothing! Which leads to the story of the Gospel. Every human heart is far from God because sin has separated us. Left to our own devices we choose sin and evil because that is the way our hearts are inclined. This is the Great News…God loved us even when we were sinners. He made a way when it looked as if there was none. Jesus came with his mission always before him. His life, death and resurrection made a way for us to stand perfectly in the presence of God, free from evil.

What can we do a part from God to cleanse an evil heart? Nothing. But with God our hearts are cleansed and the decisions we make are not our own but guided by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. We don’t have to fight our own battles but with God on our side, no enemy stands a chance, outside the walls or inside our hearts.

What are some helpful ways that you have fended off the evil in your heart? What weapon has God equipped you with to defend from evil within and without?

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