18 July 2021
Series: Hope Emerges
Book: Mark

Real Depravity

Speaker: Austin Rammell

Religious views of sin and holiness try to beat you down for things that aren’t actually in the Bible. But what is real depravity? #HopeEmerges

How Does Jesus Define Real Depravity?

If you were with us last week you witnessed Jesus putting a total beat down on the religious leaders. The beat down was centered not just in the grotesque hypocrisy of their hearts that manipulated the Word of God to blatantly disobey God’s Word, but He also attacked their very understanding of sin. Their concept of sin was obsessed with disobeying totally man-made rules about washing hands, pots, and dining couches; all while justifying the unethical treatment of their elderly parents! In doing so, Jesus attacked the foundation of their religious culture, and He did so with no mercy! He exposed their sin and called out their hypocrisy and didn’t bother to put a single dab of sugar on it! 

However, that entire conversation was removed from the masses. While it left the religious leaders dazed, confused, and bleeding all over themselves; it did nothing to address the masses who had been shaped by centuries of misguided and hypocritical religious leaders. It wasn’t just the Jewish leadership that were blinded to what sin really looked like, the Jewish culture itself had become blind. They had no concept of actual holiness nor actual depravity sin!

Now, next week Mark is going to flip the coin over and share two stories with us that give us a beautiful picture of a fundamental characteristic of holiness, but, before we see what holiness actually looks like Mark shares with us a teaching of Jesus that makes it real clear what sin looks like; real sin; real depravity!

In Mark 7:14-23, Jesus clarified two important truths about real sin and depravity.

Depravity has nothing to do with things!  (7:14-19) 

14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 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.” 16 [“If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”]

Some of you may be reading along in your Bible and are noticing that there is no verse 16 in it.  Your Bible goes from verse 15 to verse 17.  Why?  Well, “This entire verse is not included in the Nestle text. All of which means that this textual critic did not consider it as part of the original text.”1 Note that it is unnecessary to the text, so, if scholars are correct and it was mistakenly added later, then there is no harm in deleting it. “Defile” is the operative word in this truth so we need to make sure we understand what it means.To defile something means you take something that is special and awesome and ruin it!”

For instance, those of you who put Ranch Dressing all over a slice of pizza! My sister texted this week about putting mayonnaise and ranch dressing on her corn on the cob! Or, those of you who reach for A1 Sauce the second a perfectly cooked USDA Prime Steak is put in front of you! Or worse, order the steak well done and blame the steak for needing A1 Sauce!  Maybe if you didn’t overcook your steak you wouldn’t have to dump sin all over it! HA! Point is, to be “defiled” is to take that which belongs to God, and as such is like God; and stain it with something that is fundamentally not like God! It was absolutely correctly understood that the Jewish people were God’s chosen people and as such there were things in the created world if eaten, touched, entertained in your presence defiled you in the same way a person defiles a piece of bread with a slice of spam! HA! And it wasn’t just the Mishna that had a list of things that defile them, but the actual Law of God that He gave Moses to form a covenant with Israel did as well (More on that in a minute.)

So when Jesus said what He said in Mark 7:14 and 15 you need to know that His audience would have literally been totally dumbfounded and speechless. Imagine if I said something like your children don’t need to go to school; just let them stay home and play video games all day while telling them everything in life is going to work out just fine for them because the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny are going to give them everything they will ever want and need! Imagine if I preached that with blunt and confident conviction! You guys would look at me waiting on a punchline. You would literally be speechless assuming there had to be some kind of follow-up statement that would explain the absurdity of what I just said! You need to understand that what Jesus just said would affect his audience in that very way! Therefore, it’s no shock that this is the next thing we read!

17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 

These boys were like, “Yo Jesus! Did we just hear you say what we think you said?” They were so shocked they assumed Jesus was speaking in parables, that is, that He had just given them some sort of allegory to figure out a truth!  But this was no parable. Jesus had just given them a straight-up fact that shattered their entire concept of sin and depravity, and as such, they were assuming He really didn’t mean what He just said. Therefore, Jesus makes it real clear that He meant exactly what He just said!

18And 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, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 

This made the disciples’ heads explode! Jesus didn’t just contradict the Mishna, He just contradicted the written Law God gave Moses as a covenant with Israel! The belief that eating certain foods defiled you; that is, that you are created by God and for God, but by eating certain things you made yourself unworthy of being called His; was not based on the oral tradition (The Mishna) but rather the actual written Word of God! For example,

“1 And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, These are the living things that you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth. 43 You shall not make yourselves detestable with any swarming thing that swarms, and you shall not defile yourselves with them, and become unclean through them. 44 For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground. 45 For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”  (Leviticus 11:1-2, 44-45)

This little statement of Jesus literally turned the entire Jewish world upside down! It was a nuclear bomb explosion! It wasn’t just the Oral Law that Jesus was contradicting, but He was now making it clear that He was deconstructing matters specifically spelled out in the written Law given to Moses that was directly from God! The written Law that Jesus had just blasted the religious leaders for making void by their traditions.

Let me illustrate it this way.  I’ve used this before, but it bears repeating. When I transferred to Liberty University, they had a rule book called the Liberty Way. I looked at it and saw some of the most ridiculous rules I had ever heard of, particularly the ones that had to do with clothing and hair length! However, Dr. Falwell made it real clear that the Liberty Way did not make you more righteous, more holy, or in any way a better Christian; it just made you a student at Liberty in that if you didn’t follow it, you would no longer be a student at Liberty!

That was the primary purpose of the Law God gave Moses. It was a way of God setting them apart so that they were clearly identifiable as the people by whom He would fulfill His promise of redemption from the curse of sin JESUS! The Law didn’t free them from sin, it didn’t make them less depraved and sinful, as a matter of fact, the Bible says it was completely impossible for the Law to accomplish this task. All the Law was intended to do was make them Jewish; to form a Covenant between them and God that He was going to use to bring forth the one who would set us from what does defile us. The Law was not God’s purpose but rather God’s method to bring forth that which would truly make us Holy, that which would truly free us from defilement!

Eating one food versus another food is still eating food. Worshiping on one day versus another day is still worshipping on a day. Choosing one religious tradition over another religious tradition is still choosing a religious tradition.  In the end, there is no fundamental separation or holiness at all. They are fundamentally the same thing and you are fundamentally in the same condition. You’re a defiled person eating chicken instead of pork or worshiping on one day instead of another. Jesus was destroying their concept of what defiled them so that they could see their need was not a more refined and relevant version of religion but rather a transformation that they were incapable of performing! A transformation that Jesus came to give us!

So here they all stood with no concept of what sin looks like at that point! Jesus just destroyed it! How then are they to know what is sinful and defiled; what is truly depraved? How are we to know? What’s the standard? What’s the measure?  

Depravity has everything to do with the heart and what comes out of it.  (7:20-23)

20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, 

Holiness and depravity are both an inward condition of the heart that demonstrates themselves outwardly. And make no mistake, both demonstrate themselves outwardly in ways that are obvious. Now, as I stated in my introduction, next week we are going to see an outward testimony of holiness, but here Jesus makes it really clear what the outward testimony of depravity looks like; that is what sin looks like! It’s not all this outward religious stuff that defiles us but the fruits of a depraved heart that outwardly stain and mangle what God has made and what has been set apart as God’s! Listen to the practical examples Jesus gives of the testimonies of a depraved heart and the filth it pours out on us and those around us!

Come evil thoughts, “Evil” is kakos (κακος) “of a bad nature, not such as it ought to be, base, wrong, wicked.” The very sound of the word as it is pronounced, suggests the idea in the word “reprehensible.””2 Notice the first thing Jesus lists as an outward testimony of inward defilement and depravity is not an outward action but rather the thoughts that may or may not ever turn into action! My thought life demonstrates the real condition of my heart more than anything. I may have all the outward stuff down perfectly but it’s first and foremost the testimony of my thought life that testifies to the true condition of my heart!

Sexual immorality, porneia “to engage in sexual immorality of any kind, often with the implication of prostitution ‘to engage in illicit sex, to commit fornication, sexual immorality, fornication, prostitution.’” 3 In short, any sexual activity that takes place outside of the covenant of marriage. It’s a defiled and depraved heart that justifies sexual activity of any kind outside of the covenant of marriage! Period. End of the story when it comes to the teaching of JESUS! God created sex as the covenantal act that not only consummates a marriage but celebrates and feeds it. Sex outside the covenant of marriage is creating a covenant of marriage where one doesn’t exist. It is a lie to oneself and to the person you have sex with, it is deceit, and as you will see in a minute, according to Jesus, deceit is a testimony of a defiled and departed heart! I know that’s not a popular thing to say in 2021, but neither was in the first century where sexual promiscuity was actually more rampant and more justified than it is today.

Theft, “a secret act, fraud, Eur., Aeschin.; κλοπῇ by stealth or fraud, Soph.; ποδοῖν κλοπὰν ἀρέσθαι, i.e. to steal away, Id.”4 f: to take secretly and without permission the property of someone else ‘to steal, theft.’”5 It’s a defiled and depraved heart that justifies taking something that has not been given to us; that isn’t ours to take!

Murder, “to deprive a person of life by illegal, intentional killing ‘to murder, to commit murder.’”6 It’s defiled and depraved that justifies the unethical taking of life! The Key is killing unethically.  In the Bible killing is necessary and actual totally ethical and moral in some instances war, punishment for murder, defending against murder, etc. Interestingly Jesus said if you hate somebody it’s the equivalent outward action of murder, why, because Jesus is concerned with the heart! The heart is the root problem and what comes out of, as terrible as it may be, is ultimately a testimony of what is actually deprived, defiled, and sinful in our heart!

Adultery, moicheia Porneia includes adultery, but adultery (moicheia) adds a specific element.  Adultery, as defined in the New Testament is any sexual act by a married person with somebody other than their spouse. As I stated a minute ago, the Bible considers sex to be the covenantal act of marriage, therefore sexual activity with anybody outside of marriage breaks the covenant with your spouse and forms it with somebody else. This is why the Bible allows for divorce in the case of adultery. It doesn’t command it because repentance allows for the restoration of the covenant, but it does allow it in that the covenant has been nullified. It’s a defiled and depraved heart that justifies wounding our spouse in this manner. And what’s interesting, as with murder, Jesus also taught that if you lust after somebody, you’re already committing adultery with them because the issue is first the heart! The outward physical act of adultery is testifying to the same thing as the hidden act of inwardly lusting after a person.

Coveting, “a strong desire to acquire more and more material possessions or to possess more things than other people have, all irrespective of need ‘greed, avarice, covetousness.’ And greed, which is idolatry’ Col 3:5”7 It’s a defiled and depraved heart that loves money and things more than God and eternal life. It’s a defiled heart that justifies living for money and things rather than the King of the Universe.  This is another testimony of why a defiled heart is ultimately an idolatrous heart! This is an outward testimony of a heart that is not separated and belonging to God but is very much separated out to the world!

Wickedness, ponēria “This word has such meanings as “defectiveness,” “sickness,” “imperfection,” and “lack.” Morally it means “baseness,” “depravity,” “intentionally practiced evil will.”8 the active exercise of vicious propensity”9 It’s a defiled and depraved heart that is able to not just think things that are “reprehensible” but push forward to actually do them! It’s crazy enough to consider how depraved we are just by looking at our thoughts, but knowing how “reprehensible” they are and yet still be able to do them is a whole different level of the testimony of our depraved hearts!

Deceit, “properly, a bait for fish, any cunning contrivance for deceiving or catching, like the Trojan horse, the robe of Penelopé generally, any trick or stratagem,”10 “treachery, deceit, slyness, trickery”11 It’s a defiled and depraved heart that lies and manipulates others to achieve an outcome that’s all about ourselves; an outcome that at best only mildly has the interest of others in mind.

Sensuality, “In the NT only the older and sensual sense of “voluptuousness” or “debauchery” is relevant (Mk. 7:22). Man necessarily falls victim to this when cut off from God. It characterizes Sodom and Gomorrah (2 Pt. 2:7) and the pagan world generally (Eph. 4:19), also heresy and apostasy (Jd. 4; 2 Pt. 2:2, 18). The special sense of sexual excess is probable in Gl. 5:19 and certain in R. 13:13; 2 C. 12:21; 2 Pt. 2:2,” 12 “behavior completely lacking in moral restraint, usually with the implication of sexual licentiousness ‘licentious behavior, extreme immorality.’ In some languages, the equivalent of ‘licentious behavior’ would be ‘to live like a dog’ or ‘to act like a goat’ or ‘to be a rooster,’ in each instance pertaining to promiscuous sexual behavior.”13

In short, it’s a life defined by sex because there is no restraint. Biblical sexual standards are tossed aside and in the name of “sexual freedom,” a person’s life becomes all about sex. Ironically people who live this way claim they are “sexually free” but in fact that are slaves to sex. Their lives are totally defined by it. Their value as a person is established by. They are in fact slaves to sex. It’s a defiled and depraved heart that would rather serve sex as a god instead of the actual GOD!

Envy, ophthalmo – 1 the eye. 2 metaph. the eyes of the mind, the faculty of knowing. 14 ophthalmos ponēros (an idiom, literally ‘evil eye’) a feeling of jealousy and resentment because of what someone else has or does ‘jealous 15 It’s a defiled and depraved heart that can’t be satisfied with Jesus and what He has given us, but is obsessed with having what others have; here not so much in physical possessions but rather in recognition, influence, ability and popularity.  We covet things and we envy people; and as we already stated, both are in replacement of being truly satisfied and sustained with having God and His eternal LIFE!

Slander, “blasphēmia (βλασφημια). The word does not necessarily speak of blasphemy against God. It is used for reviling, calumny, evil-speaking in general, malicious misrepresentation.”16 “blasphēmia, blas-fay-me´-ah; from 989; vilification”17 “speech injurious, to another, ’s good name. 2 impious and reproachful speech injurious to divine majesty.”18 It’s a defiled and depraved heart that is not like God at all that is able to destroy people’s good name with twisted up truths that in the end are the same as an all-out lie.

Pride, “from huper (ὑπερ) “above,” and phainesthai (φαινεσθαι) “to show one’s self.” The picture is that of a man who holds his head high above others. Vincent says, “It is the sin of an uplifted heart against God and man.”19 “the character of one who, with a swollen estimate of his own powers or merits, looks down on others and even treats them with insolence and contempt.”20 It’s a defiled and depraved heart that is not like God at all that is able to see himself as substantially greater than others who are in the same condition as he is, and even see God as an equal or lesser!

Foolishness. “folly, thoughtlessness, senselessness”21 It’s a defiled and depraved heart that is too stupid to do what’s best and right but chooses condemnation from God rather than the affirmation of God, that chooses death over life, that chooses what is temporary over what is eternal; that chooses what is ugly, shameful and rotting over that which is beautiful, glorious and living!

Jesus then pulls this all together to restate the truth about what depravity and sin actually look like, and more specifically where it comes from and what causes it.

23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person. 

It’s these matters that come from a defiled and depraved heart, these realities of the heart, these types of testimonies that are unworthy of the presence of God. They are what defile us, that is, it’s these things that Jesus just said stain what God has made! It’s these things that make us unworthy of being called children of God! So, in the end, what Jesus is showing them about true depravity and sinfulness should have led the most religious person in the room to do like Isaiah did and fall to His knees and say, woe is me for a man of unclean lips!  Because here’s the deal, our hearts are born depraved! We are incapable of meeting God’s standards because we operate with hearts that defile everything! The testimony of every one of these examples has come from all of us!

Now when Christ saves us He places the Holy Spirit in us so that we have a weapon against our own. It’s a defiled and depraved heart. He even places a new heart in us! Jesus plants a desire in our hearts to truly love God, to know Him, and to obey Him! He places life within our dead hearts, He puts light in our darkness! Furthermore, He promises to constantly wrestle us away from our depravity. It’s called sanctification. He promises to transform us into His image and He promises to finish that process when He returns. But until that day that He returns we who are saved are in a battle! The lost world isn’t in an inward battle, but God’s people are! You are in a fight!  If you are a child of God you long to shine forth and live in the pure and holy life that is God’s as opposed to the dead and decaying life that is sin, and death and of Satan! This is why Jesus said I’ve come to bring war and not peace! The believer is at peace with God but he is no longer at peace with religious standards of holiness, the true believer longs to be set free from real sin, real defilement, real depravity!  

Challenge:  Are you justifying or waging war on the sin your heart displays?

In our teaching team meeting, Dan pointed out the only difference between modern country music and rock and rap is that modern country will literally justify living in total sin by simply tossing something in about Jesus! At least rock and rap just call it for what it is.  Jonathan Pugh pointed out that AC/DC was the most honest and theologically correct band in history. They honestly sang that their path was a highway to hell! HA!

But here’s the deal, modern country music is popular, it has traction in our culture because it reflects exactly how a huge percentage of people in America think. It connects because they have a market evangelical protestant Christians who justify the exact things Jesus just called sin all while claiming to be in love with and obeying Christ! Seriously, I’m not saying listening to country music is sinful, I’m saying we are sinful! They are just being smart enough to make a profit off of it. 2,000 years later, we are doing exactly what the Jews were doing in the first century, we excuse what God actually calls sin, we twist God’s Word to justify disobeying God’s Word.  It’s crazy, but we do it! So my challenge to each of us is to repent, believe in God’s Grace, and fight the fight to follow Him! Don’t fight a fight to run away from Him, and especially don’t fight the fight of justifying running away from Him is not actually running from Him!

We are going to talk about how to wage this war in our Recharge this week. Tune in Wed night at 7 pm or show up in person. If you have a High School or Middle school student, bring them to VSM at 6:30 then hang around and jump in Recharge! But right now, we just need to have a gut check the honest response to God. We need to be actual followers of Jesus, and not hypocritical followers of Jesus by agreeing with Jesus on what He said sin is, and as such repent, praise Him for His grace and trust Him and His love for us as enough reason to follow Him and as such obey Him!


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