Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 27, 1967

Not What Goes Into The Mouth

Bennie P. Ener

In Mark 7:15 we have the following words of Jesus recorded: "There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man."

In the April 27th issue of the GOSPEL GUARDIAN Brother Rolf L. Miller had an article under the title of "SMOKING" in which he drew the conclusion from this passage that smoking would not be sinful even if it harms the body. He grants for "argument sake" in the same article that I Cor. 6:19-20 applies to the individual.

We had started an article on Matt. 15:11, the parallel passage to Mark 7:15, just a few hours prior to reading Brother Miller's article. It was not our intention at the time to write a review, however, since reading Miller's review of Brother Hirshey's article we feel disposed to consider some of his conclusions.

If this passage were the only one in the Bible on the subject of sin and defilement, the conclusion that smoking is not sinful would have rested on firmer ground. Jesus, when tempted by Satan, replied by saying, "again it is written." In other words, that is not all God has to say on the subject. From these words of Jesus we learn that one scripture may limit or qualify another, or may, itself, be limited or qualified by another.

If Mark 7:15 is left unqualified it would open the gate to taking dope, and social drinking, as well as gluttony.

Now let us examine the context of Mark 7, and Matt. 15. Here we observe the subject being considered is eating with unwashed hands. The Pharisees were questioning Jesus concerning the failure of his disciples to observe the tradition of the elders in regard to the matter of hand-washing. Jesus rebukes the Jews for holding to these traditions even when they were in conflict with the law. "But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?" (Matt. 15:3).

Let us notice the comments of Clark, Barnes, and Boles on these passages. Not that they are to be upheld as Divine Authority, but simply to summarize what I want to say in a more concise and effective manner than I could do. The quotations are probably interwoven, and may have a few of our own interjections. This is because they were gathered as sermon material a few months back. Therefore, personal credit to the respective authors is not given.

"The doctrine of the Pharisees, that neglect of washing and similar observances defiles a man, cannot be true. Those things pertain to the body as much as food does, and they cannot affect the soul. That must be purified by something else than an external washing and it is polluted by other things than a neglect of more outward ceremonies. The seat of corruption is within it is the heart itself; and if men would be made pure this must be cleansed. If that is corrupt the whole man is corrupt."

"Under the law certain foods were forbidden, but they had grossly perverted the law. They thought they would be spiritually defiled by certain meats and violation of these Traditions. Jesus gives the broad statement sin does not lie in food or matter but the soul."

We will have to agree with the comments made by these men, that the thing that defiles is the spirit of violation, whether it be eating, contrary to God's law, the refusal to be baptized, or any other violation. It all comes from the heart. Thought, deliberation, reasoning, and purpose, all precede every responsible act of word and deed, and may cause a man to commit some outward act that violates God's law.

Now let us see if Matt. 15, and Mark 7, are limited or qualified by any other passages.

A. Meats were forbidden under the Law. Lev. 11: 4. At the time Jesus made the statement, "not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man," the law was in force. He was talking to people who were living under the law recorded in Lev. 11:4. We can see under this law that certain meat was forbidden. According to our brother's application, it would not have been sin for one of these fellows to eat a pork chop.

B. Dan. 1:8 "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the King's meat, not with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the princes of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself."

Apparently Daniel did not know it was impossible to defile himself with anything taken into the mouth.

C. I Cor. 11:29 "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body."

According to the application we have had of Mark 7:15, we could not defile ourselves by taking the Lord's Supper in the manner described by Paul.

D. Tit. 1:11,12 "evil beast, idle gluttons...rebuke them sharply." Seems that glutton is something contrary to a trait that a Christian should have. People who lived in this manner were to be REBUKED SHARPLY. This being so gluttony must be a sin.

From the above passages, we observe that it is possible to sin by taking something into the body. Maybe the act of putting a given substance into the body is not wrong within itself, but when it violates God's word to do so it is sin.

If smoking (drinking coffee, eating saturated fats or getting overly tired) violates a commandment of God, whether the commandment is I Cor. 6:19,20; I Cor. 6:12 or any other passage the violation would not be set aside by Mark 7:15.