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Mark 7:14-23
And [Jesus] called the people to him again and said to them, "Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him." And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, "Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?" (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, "What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person."  (ESV)
"In 'N Out"
2 September 2015
There is an iconic fast food restaurant mainly in California called "In 'N Out." I've always been fascinated by this fast food restaurant's name. I always presumed that it had to do with the speed at which one could get a burger and fries. But I've never been sure. And as important as food is to us, it does tend to be a bit of an "in and out" thing. We ingest and void. God made us that way. I am sure that's not what "In 'N Out" was referring to.
Jesus deals with the "in and out" thing. Jesus takes issue with the Old Testament food purity laws in Mark 7:14-23. In the Old Testament God forbade his people to eat certain foods, such as pork and shellfish. Such prohibitions were external signs of the chosen character of Israel. It marked them off as holy to the Lord and distinguished them from the pagan nations by whom they were surrounded on every side ( Deut 4:6). The food laws were to be signs of circumcised hearts ( Lev 26:41; Jer 9:26; Acts 7:51) that were full of confidence and trust in God and minds and mouths filled with the Word of God. Food purity laws were signs to others about who God was for Israel. They didn't tell God anything He didn't know already about rebellious Israel, which He brought out of Egypt through the Red Sea.
Unfortunately, the signs of external obedience became more important than what they signified. The people of Israel began to be confident in their own works rather than in the rescue of the God who brought them up out of Egypt. So while food prohibitions were in in the Old Testament, they went out with the New. For the food itself was not the issue, because the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof ( Ps 24:1) as the Psalmist says, and what God has made clean we could not make unclean ( Acts 11:9) as our Lord says to the Apostle Peter.
So God did not want righteousness to be a matter of what you avoided eating. Of course, we sometimes try this today when we crow loudly about our ability to eat "organic" foods instead of foods grown in more traditional ways or our ability to save animals by eating plant-sourced foods (I can never keep "vegan" and "vegetarian" straight). Even if you can become "Greener-than-Thou" by choosing the organic path, this is not a source of holiness or the lack of it in God's sight. Part of the point of this text is that everyone is free to eat as they please. Mark tells us, "Thus [Jesus] declared all foods clean" (Mk 7:19). Eating or not eating does not change our status with God, even if it gets us status with other people. The Apostle Paul knew of this teaching of our Lord and said, "Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do" (1Co 8:8). We are made right with God by the work of Christ, not our own actions, whether it is about eating or not eating. We live by grace, not by our works.


Augsburg Confession

"It has been the common opinion not only of the people but also of those who teach in the churches that distinctions among foods and similar human traditions are works which are profitable to merit grace and make satisfactions for sins. That the world thought so is evident from the fact that new ceremonies, new orders, new holy days, and new fasts were daily instituted, and the learned men in the churches exacted these works as a service necessary to merit grace and greatly terrified the consciences of those who omitted any of them. From this opinion concerning traditions much harm has resulted in the church.
"In the first place, it has obscured the doctrine concerning grace and the righteousness of faith, which is the chief part of the gospel and ought above all else to be in the church, and to be prominent in it, so that the merit of Christ may be well known and that faith which believes that sins are forgiven for Christ's sake may be exalted far above works and above all other acts of worship. Paul, therefore, lays the greatest weight on this article and puts aside the law and human traditions in order to show that the righteousness of a Christian is something other than works of this sort. It is faith which believes that for Christ's sake we are received into grace. This teaching of Paul has been almost wholly smothered by traditions which have produced the opinion that it is necessary to merit grace and righteousness by distinctions among foods and similar acts of worship. In treating of repentance no mention was made of faith; only works of satisfaction were proposed, and the whole of repentance was thought to consist of these."

Augsburg Confession, 27.1-7
Lord Jesus Christ, for Your sake You have received us into grace. Defend this teaching among us that it would not be smothered by traditions which have produced the opinion that it is necessary to merit grace and righteousness by distinctions among foods and similar acts of worship. Lead us into repentance unto faith. Keep us from being deluded into thinking that we can satisfy Your justice by our own efforts; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
For Paul Lodholz, who is suffering from the pain caused by shingles, that the Lord Almighty would bring him relief
For Cameron Stubbs, who will be undergoing surgery for cancer, that his Lord Jesus would bring him the healing he needs
For all peace officers, that they would be kept safe as they carry out their duties in defending law-abiding citizens
Art: D ürer, Albrecht   The Adoration of the Trinity (1515)  

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