Mark 7:14-15 And he called the people to him again, and said to them, "Hear me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him."
Pick up, tidy up, clean up - it seems like we spend a great deal of time cleaning, and it is generally not something we enjoy doing. Why do we do it? From Wesley we have the proverb: cleanliness is next to godliness. From this some parents might ask their children, if you are a Christian then your room ought to be clean, for only heathen have messy rooms. There is another proverb, a place for everything, and everything in its place - order is a good thing, and it is nice to be able to find what you want - the biggest obstacle is having too much stuff. And that brings us back to the idea of cleaning house, and getting rid of the stuff we no longer need. There is a lot of stuff we hang onto for much too long, I suppose we imagine we might use it someday - problem is you can't use what you can not find.
So we clean up our rooms, tidy up our houses, and clean up our acts. We work quite hard at it. And still our lives are cluttered with stuff - its hard to let go. Some people make rules, if you don't use it once a year, you don't need it. Sometimes that helps, but its still a lot of work to sort through our lives and put them in good order.
One of the things we should be able to give up and get rid of are grudges - after all what good are they? Should we keep them around until we get revenge, or should we get on with the more important things of life. Itís a different kind of cleaning, and it also is hard work.
We wash our clothes, we wash ourselves, we wash our car, we clean our rooms, we tidy our desk - all this cleaning - all this work - before we get down to the real business of living our lives.
What if there was another way? Because for all the cleaning and fussing we do - we cannot clean from ourselves the stain of sin, or wash away our guilt - while we may be able to wash out some ones mouth with soap, as unpleasant as that is, it won't clean the mind which thought to say such words. You see, there is another way - and it begins with the prayer you all know - create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. What's special about this, is that God does the work - God creates in us a clean heart - God makes us a new creation. That's what happens at baptism - and that new creation of baptism is ours every time we remember our baptism. And as we remember our baptism, we drown our old sinful nature, so that we can rise to our new life in Christ.