Mt. 15:10-20 “Will Smoking & Drinking Send
You to Hell?”
Translation & Sermon by
Nate Wilson for Christ The Redeemer Church, Manhattan KS, 23 Sept 2012
after summoning the crowd, He said to them, “Keep listening and understanding.
15:11 It is
not the things which are entering into the mouth that profane the man, but
rather the things proceeding out from the mouth; these profane the man.”
His disciples approached and said to Him, “Do you realize that when the
Pharisees heard your word, they were scandalized?”
15:13 Then He, in answer, said, “Every plant which
my Heavenly Father did not plant will be rooted out.
them! Blind men are being trail-guides for blind men, but if a blind man guides
a blind man, both will fall into a hole.”
15:15 Then in
reply, Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.”
Jesus said, “Are you yourselves also without understanding at this point?
y’all figured out that everything that makes its way into the mouth makes room
in the belly, then is expelled into a toilet?
15:18 But the
things that make their way out of the mouth come out of the heart, and those
things profane the man.
15:19 For out
of the heart come evil rationalizations, murders, adulterous affairs, sexual
immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, [and] blasphemy; 15:20 the things that
profane the man are these. But to eat with unwashed hands does not profane the
Introduction: “Good people don’t drink”
A couple of years ago my family invited some neighbors over
for supper. They way they dressed and talked and the kinds of entertainment
they engaged in were kinda different from us, so we were a little nervous as to
whether we could make them comfortable in our home, but we really wanted to try
and be good hosts. We made pizza and salad and bought Cokes to go with the meal,
but after our neighbors arrived, it occurred to me that a lot of people like
beer with their pizza.
When I was a teenager, I ran the Pizza Inn at Panama City
Beach, Florida, over lunch hours one summer, and this neighbor reminded me a
lot of the guys that would come in to the Pizza Inn for lunch, find out that I
was too young to serve them beer with their pizza, and walk out in a huff to
find another restaurant. So, in an effort to make our neighbors more
comfortable as guests, I apologized that I didn’t have any beer to serve them,
and I told them that if they liked beer with their pizza, they would be welcome
to bring a beer over from their house. I must have read them wrong because they
gave me a horrified look and said something like, “Oh no, we’re not like that;
we’re good people, we don’t drink alcohol!” So that was a relief; they would be
fine with our Cokes.
After a while, the woman disappeared and the guy asked for a
bowl. When we brought him the bowl, he spit some brown stuff into it and
produced a pack of chewing tobacco from his pocket. The wife came in the front
door with a faint aroma of cigarette smoke. Apparently good people could smoke
and chew, but they couldn’t drink beer! We grew to love these neighbors and we
miss them now that they’ve moved away, but we still chuckle about that first
evening together, and I suspect they do too.
Now, I don’t mean to
imply that my neighbors were the same as the Pharisees, but they may have been
influenced by religious teachers who were like the Pharisees. As you may
remember from the first half of chapter 15, the Pharisees taught that their
ceremonial tradition of rinsing hands before every meal was necessary to be
right with God, even though it wasn’t in the Bible. They believed that if you
didn’t wash your hands the right way before every meal, you deserved to die.
Meanwhile, they had another tradition that you could verbally dedicate all you
owned to God, and then you could keep using your things as your own, but you
would be exempt from ever having to give to a family member in need. The
handwashing ceremony was harmless, but the corban tradition was actually
harmful to families. Furthermore, both traditions were actually idolatrous,
because they elevated a rule made by a human being to the level of the
commandments of God, as though some rabbi from a few thousand years ago could
make up new rules about who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. This is the
context in which Jesus offered this further teaching in vs.10-20:
15:10 Then after summoning the crowd [multitude], He said to them, “Keep
listening and understanding.
ειπεν αυτοις Ακουετε
- Jesus commands the reversal of Isaiah’s prophecy which He
referenced in 13:14-15, using the same words for hearing and
understanding: “…you will not hear, and you shall never understand…
For the heart of this people was made calloused, and their ears hardly heard,
and their eyes were shut, otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear
with their ears and understand with their heart, and they might
return, and I will cure them.’” Jesus is now offering the cure!
- Remember that the parable of the sower (13:19-23) used the
same terms: “When any one hears word of the kingdom and does not comprehend,
the evil one comes and grabs what has been sown in his heart. This is the
one which was sown along the road… But the one that was sown upon the good
earth, this is the one who hears the word and who understands,
who then bears fruit...
- We are called upon not only to hear God’s word, but to do
something with it, process it, take it to heart, understand it, comprehend
it. That takes time and effort, but Jesus encourages the crowd – and us – to
stick to it.
15:11 It is not the things which are entering into the
mouth that profane the man, but rather the things proceeding out from the mouth;
these profane the man.”
εις το στομα
- What does “profane/defile/make unclean” mean? The Greek
word is koinoi
- Not used in O.T., although there is a related word in
Prov. 1:14 (“common” purse) and in the apocryphal Esther 5:1 (changing
out of “common” clothes into royal ones).
- It is the same root as the word koine which is
used to describe the style of Greek language in which the N.T. was
written – not high Classical Greek, but vernacular, common-tongue Greek.
- In the NT writings, it is applied to spiritual status
before God, as defiled by sin, unholy, unfit for God’s presence:
- Acts 10:15 “What God has cleansed, no longer
consider unholy.” (NASB)
- Acts 21:28 “…he has even brought Greeks into the temple
and has defiled this holy place.” (NASB)
- Heb. 9:13 “For if the blood
of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have
been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh…” (NASB)
- This word expresses the concept of what is wrong with the
world. Everybody has their own opinion about what the source of the
world’s problems is. Embodied in this word “defiled/unclean” is God’s
diagnosis of the problem: Mankind has violated God’s principles of
righteousness and become abhorrent to Him. That’s what’s wrong with the
- It’s very important to understand what is wrong with the
world because then you can figure out how to fix the problem. If you
misdiagnose the problem, you’ll never fix it.
- The Pharisees misunderstood God’s law. They thought that
the problem was that there were good with God, but there were all these
bad things out there in the world that were out to pollute them and take
away their fellowship with God.
- Jesus was challenging this mistaken notion by saying that
they didn’t start out good with God, their own hearts were bad and were
cutting off fellowship with God.
- Of course, no one who has not been humbled by the
convicting power of God’s Spirit likes to hear that they are rotten to the
15:12 Then HisKJV
disciples approached and said to Him, “Do you realize that when the Pharisees
heard your [sayingKJV, statementNAS] wordlit,
they were [shockedGoodspeed] scandalized?”
‘οι μαθηται [αυτου] ειπον αυτω Οιδας
‘οτι ‘οι Φαρισαιοι
- This remark from Jesus’ disciples makes me chuckle every
time. “Uh oh, do you realize you just offended some bigwigs?”
- It reminds me of the scene in the film Luther
where Joseph Fiennes playing Martin Luther, presents his first German
translation of the Bible to Prince Fredrick, played by Peter Ustinov. The
prince reminds Luther that any translation of the Bible other than Latin
is against the laws of Rome. “Roman law is the reality.” (“I believe in
the reality of Christ,” replies Luther.) “With no compromises?” (“None.”) “You
realize they’ll take this as an act of sheer provocation, and they will
not hesitate to strike back…” Ustinov sighs with resignation and
concludes, “Well, so long as you know.”
- This is the point where Jesus’ followers make the
realization that pleasing God does not equal pleasing the religious
- that the point of religion was to be faithful to God’s
word rather than to keep the religious establishment happy.
- that the authority they are dealing with is higher than
any human authority; this is God Himself in the flesh speaking and teaching
them, and His words carry more clout than the weight of 4,000 years of
- The Pharisees fit into the Parable of the Sower from Mt. 13:20-21 as
the rocky ground “…and after stress or persecution occurs on account of
the word, he is immediately scandalized/offended.” (NAW)
- “Christ, who is the rock of offence would have to be
buried if we wanted to satisfy the stubbornness of everybody!” wrote John
- Back when Jesus answered John the Baptizer’s doubts in Mt.
11:5-6, He said, “…lepers are being cleansed, and deaf men are hearing, dead
men are being raised up, and lowly men are getting good news, so who ever
is not scandalized/offended by me is blessed.” (NAW)
- We must not allow the scandal of breaking traditions and
risking the disapproval of people around us to restrain us from obeying
15:13 Then He, in answer, said, “Every plant which my Heavenly
Father did not plant will be rooted out [uprootedNAS].
‘Ο δε αποκριθεις ειπεν Πασα φυτεια ‘ην ουκ εφυτευσεν ‘ο πατηρ μου ‘ο ουρανιος εκριζωθησεται
- This refers back to the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares.
Remember, when the Evil One sowed weeds among the wheat seeds planted by
the good farmer? When harvest time came, those weeds were yanked out and
- Jesus is implying that we
shouldn’t be influenced by the opinions and expectations of hypocrites and
non-Christians, because they and their ideas will perish in the fire of
- Additionally, it is noteworthy that the criterion by which
God separates the wheat from the tares is not whether the plant washed its
leaves, or had the right diet, or wore the right clothes, or was a member
in a certain denomination, but rather what it was in its very essence. Was
it planted by the Heavenly Father or not?
- If so, then you’re in, whether you bore 40, 60, or
100-fold. If not, then it’s, “Depart from me, for I never knew you.” (Mt.
- The Church by Christ’s grace
is “the branch of His planting, the work of His hands, to beautify
Himself.” (Isaiah 60: 21, NAW, cf. 1
- And in the Psalms we see the
result of faith and eternal life in the lives of those God has planted:
- “Blessed is the man who has not walked in the counsel of
the ungodly, and has not stood in the way of sinners, and has not sat in
the seat of evil men. But his pleasure is in the law of the Lord; and in
his law will he meditate day and night. And he shall be as a tree planted
by the brooks of waters, which shall yield its fruit in its season, and
its leaf shall not fall off; and whatsoever he shall do shall be
prospered.” (Psalm 1:1-3, Brenton) Jesus implied that following
Pharisees would be “walking in the counsel of the ungodly;” what He calls
for instead is to “meditate” on His word.
- “They that are planted in the house of the Lord shall
flourish in the courts of our God. Then shall they be increased in a fine
old age; and they shall be prosperous; that they may declare that the
Lord my God is righteous, and there is no iniquity in him.” (Psalm
- God’s action of uprooting the tares has a corollary in our
15:14 Leave them! Blind men are being trail-guides for
blind men, but if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a hole.
αφετε αυτους ‘οδηγοι εισιν τυφλοι τυφλων-א,B τυφλος δε τυφλον εαν ‘οδηγη αμφοτεροι εις βοθυνον πεσουνται
- The last instance of this word for “guides” in the Greek
Bible was in Ezra 8:1, to speak of the Jewish heads of households who
resettled Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity. It was their
descendents who continued to lead the nation of Israel in Jesus’ day. They
were supposed to lead their families – and all of their society – in loving
and obeying God (Rom. 2:19), which is, by the way, the same role I believe
God gives to all the men of this church, but these Jewish leaders of
Jesus’ day had become “blind” men who couldn’t tell the difference between
God’s word and man-made rules (23:16), so they “strained out gnats and swallowed
camels” (23:25) and were useless in leading anybody in the right
direction; in fact, they were leading people in the wrong
direction, down the path to hell.
- This blindness was promised beforehand by Moses to the
Jews as God’s punishment if they would not heed God’s commands. And thou
shalt grope at mid-day, as a blind man would grope in the darkness, and
thou shalt not prosper in thy ways; and then thou shalt be unjustly
treated, and plundered continually, and there shall be no helper.” (Deuteronomy
28:29, Brenton, cf. Isa. 59:10)
- Zephaniah 1:17 says it plainly: “they shall walk as blind
men, because they have sinned against the Lord.”
- Isaiah prophesied of this situation and spoke of the same judgment
of falling into a hole [pitNAS,NIV/ditchKJV]
- Isaiah 24:5 The earth lies
defiled under its inhabitants; for they have passed over the Torah,
changed statute, broken the eternal covenant. Therefore a curse devours
the earth, and inhabitants in her will be held guilty... Terror and the pit
and the trap are upon you, inhabitant of the earth! And it will be that
he who flees from the sound of the terror shall fall into the trench,
and he who gets up out of the middle of the trench shall be caught
in the trap… sin is heavy upon [the earth], it falls, and will never
again stand. (cf. Jer. 48:43-44)
- Isaiah 42:17-22 “The ones who trust in the idols will be
turned backwards and utterly put to shame – those who say to a cast
image, ‘You are our god!’ Hear, you deaf, and pay attention, you blind,
in order to see... this is a people plundered and looted; all of them are
trapped in holes, and hidden in prison houses… and there is no
- But remember, if you have
fallen into that trap of idolatry & man-worship, and fallen into a
pit of sin & confusion & despair, God has provided a way out (Isa.
- Jesus came to heal the blind
(Isa. 61:1), and,
- “The Lord gives wisdom to
the blind: The Lord sets up the broken down: the Lord loves the
righteous…” (Ps. 146:8 Brenton)
- Now, Jesus said in the Great Commission (28:18ff) to teach
disciples to observe everything that He commanded. That’s why I take
special care to note the imperatives Jesus uttered when we find
them here in the Gospel. The first word of this verse is a direct command
of Jesus, so we should pay attention to it and teach it to our disciples:
- “Leave them/let them alone;”
the Greek word could literally be translated, “Let go of them.” Let go of
your desire to be approved of by them. Let go of caring what the world
thinks of you. (Rev. 22:11)
- When you have a Biblical conviction that makes you feel like you
stick out like a sore thumb around your friends and co-workers – or even
your own church and family members, don’t assume that their lack of
acceptance means that you should conform to them.
- Quit comparing yourself to people. Quit trying to measure
how correctly you are thinking or how well you are doing spiritually by
what other people do! Just stop it!
- “…though in
indifferent things we must be tender of giving offence, yet we must not,
for fear of that, evade any truth or duty. Truth must be owned, and duty
done; and if any be offended, it is his own fault… But if we please men
with the concealment of truth, and the indulgence of their errors and
corruptions, we are not the servants of Christ.” ~Matthew Henry
- Of course there is wisdom in being aware of social norms
and not being unnecessarily offensive,
- and of course God provides human examples and authority
- and of course we should be humble enough to admit we were wrong
when a brother or sister shows us from God’s word that we should do
- but Christian, you are a child of God; you don’t
answer to man, you answer to God for your life. You don’t
pattern your life after some mere man and his opinions; your
example is Jesus. So, if you are being controlled by the opinions
of some Pharisee, forsake the blind trail-guides. That is Jesus’ command to
- Now, at this point, Jesus and
the disciples leave the crowd and go back to the house(Mk. 7:17)
15:15 Then in reply, Peter said to him, “Explain
[interpretEarle] this parable to us.”
δε ‘ο Πετρος ειπεν
αυτω Φρασον ‘ημιν την
- Now that Jesus has answered the disciples’ concern that this
was offending the Pharisees, Peter goes back to Jesus’ statement in v.11
that offended the Pharisees, realizing that he needs to understand it
- Peter asks Jesus to expound on it, using the Greek word “phrazw,”
which carries the idea of placing boundaries around something – to declareKJV
what it does and does not mean.
15:16 But Jesus said, “Are you yourselves also without understanding [yetKJV/stillNAS,NIV] at this point?
‘Ο δε [Ιησους] ειπεν
- This is a very literal translation. Another way of putting
it which changes the predicate nominative into a verb but conveys the
sense well is, “How is it that not even you have put it together by
- Jesus had called the people in v.10 to “hear and
understand,” so He expected His own disciples to be getting it, yet they
seemed to be having trouble understanding.
- The next verse is the first time the Greek verb νοεω appears in Matthew. It means “to
exercise the mind; to think through something; to ponder/consider/reason
it out.” Jesus is saying, “Hey, put your brain in gear, guys!”
- Christianity is not a dullNIV,
mindless religion, it is a faith in which we are encouraged to
15:17 Haven’t y’all figured out that everything that
makes its way into the mouth makes room in the belly,
then is expelled into a toilet?
νοειτε ‘οτι παν
εις το στομα
εις την κοιλιαν
χωρει και εις
- Please forgive me if you think this is crass language. The
KJV was the only English translation I saw which actually translated the Greek
word aphedrwna in this verse;
all the others omitted that word in their translation, perhaps because
they did not feel it was appropriate to talk in modern Christian circles
about the privy, but it is there in the original.
- God made our bodies in a wonderful way, and there is
nothing shameful about the way they work. Yes, there are some things that
are gross, so we don’t talk about them unless we have to. And when
you have to, you can talk to a gastroenterologist.
- Here Jesus is just pointing out that what we eat passes
through our bodies and does not change who we are. The words of the
parallel passage in Mark state this explicitly: “…whatever goes into the
man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart,
but into his stomach, and is eliminated…” (Mark 7:18b-19a, NASB)
- Mark goes on to say, “Thus He declared all foods clean.”
(Mark 7: 19b, NASB)
- Food, in and of itself is not able change your
relationship with God.
- If you use food as a source of comfort, it can be an idol
by which you separate yourself from the comfort of God, but the food
isn’t what separated you from God, it was your use of the food.
- Other religions have misguided beliefs that food can
retain spiritual properties if it is blessed, such as the
- Roman Catholics who believe that after the priest says
the hocus pocus, the bread and the cup turn into something that
affects you spiritually.
- And the Jews who have to get
a special blessing from a priest before their food is kosher,
- but Jesus is saying that the Christian faith doesn’t
attach spiritual effects to food. Food is a physical substance which is
processed physically by your body, and it has no spiritual properties
that affect the spiritual part of you.
- So in making this declaration, Jesus declared that eating
pork or anything else labeled unclean in the Law of Moses was not, in and
of itself, a sin.
- “Uncleanness is not contracted from the good creatures of
God” J. Calvin.
- There might be physical reasons why you wouldn’t want to
eat some of those animals like skunks or vultures that the Mosaic Law
said was unclean, but it is not something that would change the course of
your life from heaven to hell.
- Titus 1:15 “To the pure, all things are pure; but to
those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their
mind and their conscience are defiled.” (NASB)
- In Romans 14:17 is says, “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (NASB) It’s not the food that’s
important, it is the relationship with God that is important in
15:18 But the things that make their way out of the mouth
come out of the heart, and those things profane the man.
15:19 For out of the heart come evil rationalizations, murders,
adulterous affairs, sexual immoralities [fornicationsKJV], thefts,
false testimonies, [and] blasphemy;
15:20 the things that profane the man are these. But to
eat with unwashed hands does not profane the man.”
ταυτα εστιν τα κοινουντα
το δε ανιπτοις
ου κοινοι τον
- I have mentioned before that
the Greek word kardia, which is translated into English “heart,” is
not referring to the organ that pumps blood, but rather to that part of
you which thinks and feels and relates to God and
- Unlike food, this “heart” is an essential part of who we are,
- unlike food, this “heart” participates
in both the physical world and the spiritual world.
- And this heart is the source
of our sin.
- Here Jesus seems to be referencing the second half of the
10 Commandments in particular, using noun forms of the same verbs that the
Greek O.T. uses for
- The 6th
Commandment: Thou shalt not commit adultery (Ex. 20:13 οὐ
μοιχεύσεις), and its
corollary not to commit sexual immorality (Deut. 23:17-18
- The 7th Commandment: Thou shalt not steal (Ex.
20:14 οὐ κλέψεις.),
- The 8th Commandment: Thou shalt not murder
(Ex. 20:15 οὐ
- The 9th Commandment: Thou shalt not bear false witness
(Ex. 20:16 οὐ
- The vices listed at the beginning and the end of Jesus’
list here are different words not found in the 10 Commandments, but which
are very similar concepts to
- the 10th Commandment “Thou shalt not covet” (Ex.
a sin committed in our thoughts,
- Now this phrase “evil thoughts/reasonings/arguments”
only occurs elsewhere in the Bible twice:
- In Jeremiah 4:14, where the prophet is calling the Jews
of a few hundred years before to turn away from their idolatry and their
- and in James 2:4 (which is probably quoting this saying
of Jesus in Matthew.).
- Here, Jesus is probably referring to the “captious
dispute” raised by the Pharisees over washing hands (M. Vincent).
- Throughout the Gospel of Luke, Jesus confronts people in
their dialogizmos – their thinking, or use of logic when it was
- Luke 5:22ff – The scribes are reasoning that Jesus is
speaking blasphemy by claiming to forgive the sins of the paralyzed man
lowered down through the roof, so Jesus says, “Why are you reasoning
[thus] in your hearts?...But, so that you may know that the Son of Man
has authority on earth to forgive sins… get up, and pick up your
stretcher and go home.” (NASB)
- Luke 6:9-10 – Once again
the religious leaders were off-track in their thinking as they assumed
that Jesus would be breaking the 4th Commandment by healing a
man with a withered hand in the middle of a church service. Jesus
“knew what they were thinking, and He said… ‘is it lawful to do
good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to destroy it?...
Stretch out your hand!’” (NASB)
- Luke 9:47-48 – Later on, when Jesus’ own disciples
were arguing about which one of them was the greatest, Jesus,
“knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and
stood him by His side, and said… ‘the one who is least among all of you,
this is the one who is great.’” (NASB)
- Luke 24:37-39 – Once again, after the resurrection,
Jesus confronted wrong thinking in His disciples when they got spooked,
thinking He was a ghost. Jesus said, “Why are you troubled,
and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that
it is I Myself...” (NASB)
- Sin starts as a wrong thought, and even that wrong
thought offends God, and Jesus set the example by challenging wrong
- The last sin in the list here in v.19, is like the 3rd
Commandment: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord Thy God in vain”
(Ex. 20:7 οὐ λήμψῃ τὸ
- The word in Matthew here,
has to do with humans claiming to have the right to do what only God can
do (such as forgiving others of their sin - Mt. 9:3, or even making up
new sins like the Pharisees did), or blasphemy has to do with humans
saying disrespectful things about God and His Son and His Spirit
- On the other hand, it’s possible that this word was intended to
go along with “false testimony” as in “slanderous false witnesses,”
because it can also mean “slander.”
- If you compare this list of sins in Matthew with the list in the
parallel passage in Mark, we see that Mark has a longer list, including
everything from Matthew’s list and adding “laciviousness, an evil
eye, coveting, pride, and foolishness.” Notice how many of these sins are
not violent outward actions. Merely having a bad attitude can send
you to hell.
- Also note that every one of these sins listed by Jesus in
this Greek text are plurals,
- which unfortunately, not all English translations render
- I think they are plural because there is more than one
way to commit these sins. Remember, Jesus said that if you have hated
somebody in your heart, you are guilty of murder – even if you didn’t
physically kill them (which would also be murder). Both kinds of murder
are an outflow of the heart.
- Perhaps another reason why these sins are all plural is
that if we’ve done them, then we’ve probably done them more than once!
- Jesus said that these all come out of our hearts. What you
think and feel results in the bad words you say and the wrong actions you
do and the evil ways you relate to people.
- In The Music Man musical, Harold said that the
trouble in River City (with a capital T that rhymes with P”) was that
kids were playing pool, and the solution was to start a brass band. Of
course, he was a con artist who was pretending to sell school band instruments.
Pool halls might have evil people in them, but the evil in this world
won’t go away if you get rid of all the pool tables and alcohol and
- The devil might be able to drop an idea in your head, but
he can’t make you do it; you do things because you want to or
because you think you have to. The devil can’t be held responsible
for your violations of the 10 Commandments.
- The food you eat and the environment around you might add
to your energy level or your stress level, but your environment is not to
blame for your sin. You are responsible for your own sin.
- Jesus reveals that the
problem is not our environment, not other people, not God; it’s us.
Our own hearts are churning out these problems and spewing this filth into
the world every day.
- That’s what God said through the prophet Jeremiah a
few hundred years earlier
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and
desperately wicked…” (Jer. 17:9, KJV)
- And that’s a problem because it separates us from God,
as the psalmist said:
“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: (Ps.
- We are unclean/defiled/profaned; we’re not holy. This
means we need a savior.
- The point Jesus is making is that we should not follow people who
give us a list of do’s and don’t’s and tell us that if we don’t drink or
smoke or chew or go with girls that do, we’ll go to heaven.
- Which brings me to the title of this sermon, “Can smoking,
drinking, and dancing send you to hell?”
- I’ve never heard anyone ask if they would go to hell over
not washing their hands, but I have heard people ask about these other
- You may not like the answer I’m going to give. I believe
that Jesus is saying that tobacco and alcohol and music and dance are not
inherently sinful, any more than water or the color green is sinful; He
created all these things to be part of this world, and He called them good.
- It is our corrupt heart attitudes towards these things and
the selfish ways we use His creation that make us sinful and which cut off
our relationship with Him and leave us helpless on the road to hell. This
is why we needed Jesus to pay for our sin and change our heart and reconcile
us to God.
- We take good food and make ourselves gluttons with it.
- People take wine that the Apostle encouraged his disciple
to take a little for his stomach, and we drink to excess, which is
a sin. People who don’t know the joy of the Lord find they can’t have a
good time unless they are drunk.
- We take God’s good gifts of plants and fire and use them
to find the peace and comfort that we are supposed to find in Christ, and
harm our bodies in the process.
- We take music which is intended to bless God and man, and
we raise the volume to excessive levels, fill it with dischord, and sing
words that lie and curse.
- And we turn dance, which was made to praise God (Ps. 149:3),
into indulgence in lust instead.
- None of these things in moderation are outlawed in the
Bible, but even if we did outlaw them, our rebellious hearts would find
some other creations of God to pervert.
- It’s our sinful hearts that are at the bottom of all the
world’s problems, and no amount of rules and regulations will ever remove
that problem. It can only be removed by the grace of God penetrating
hearts and changing them.
- That’s why Jesus came:
- He knew that our hearts would
become twisted and guilty, so He came and took our guilt upon Himself and
suffered the punishment for our sin while He hung on the cross.
- He rose from the dead and sent His Spirit to change our
hearts so that we would grieve over our offenses against God and to look
in faith to be saved by Jesus.
- He makes us right with God and gives us the ability to
use His creation for His glory,
- and as we walk with confidence in His truth and His
righteousness, we can be freed from the control of other people who see
the world as defiling, and we become ambassadors who are not afraid of
being defiled, but who rather spread the righteousness of Christ into the
world, reversing the fear such that, as bearers of the light, we become a
threat to the darkness rather than the darkness being a threat to us!
- May these things characterize us as we follow Jesus!