Ahem, please let me clarify that gizzards gross me out, and I think that they are something that should be inedible. Matter of fact, if there were legislation to ban gizzard consumption, I would check that box to help the cause. But, there isn't one and I cannot stop people from eating gizzards. Nor will I hold any contempt or prejudiced against them (or you) if they do.
Matthew 15:18-20 provides the text for today's entry. In reading this passage we could do well to take note of the whole context in which Jesus' words were prompted. Upon rebuking the Pharisees for their hypocrisies, Jesus and the disciples converse among themselves (Mk 7:17 cf. in a home) and they request clarification from the Lord of the parable as they had done on previous occasions (Mt 13:36, Mt 15:15-16, Mk 4:34, Mk 7:17, Jn 16:29). Ultimately, we receive a very clear explanation of what Jesus meant as well. We get to thank the confusion of the disciples for that one!
Now Jesus clarifies the importance of this dialog through simple meaning and reference to the prophecy of Isaiah (Mt 15:7, Is 29:13) and likens it to the current generation of Jews. Be it as it may, these words may have had a previous audience when spoken by the prophet, but the oracles of God saw fit for them to apply aptly through the authority of Jesus to speak them again in this setting. The question to be answered here is not were the Pharisees and their practices hypocritical, Scripture clarifies this many times (Mt 7:5, Mt 23:23-29), but what is the point I'm trying to make by telling you all this?
My point is this. The superficiality of Pharisaical religion is found in the understanding of our own personal sins. Where there has been victory won through sanctification, perseverance, and hard won battles of the flesh it is dangerous for NT believers to hold these victories as standards for others to hold to. Worse yet, that they become disqualified in their salvation because we determine them ineligible based upon our own personal piety. Woe to us who yoke our brethren with a yoke that Christ has removed in His sacrifice upon the cross. The other dilemma posed by this situation is far more terrible than the former. This situation occurs not out of the possession of maturity and inner piety, but through the dismissal of our Lord's teachings and how clear they really are.
In an article by Dr. Tom Ascol called "The Heart of the Problem" he writes,
"Failure to accept our Lord's teaching at this point inevitably leads us to locate sin outside of ourselves. This makes it very easy to create an extrabiblical list of activities and objects that we designate "sinful" and rail against them in the name of holiness. Such lists are limited only by the imaginations of their creators and have, in some conservative Christian circles, included everything from sports and movies, to wine and masculine facial hair.
"But Jesus teaches us that sin does not originate "out there." It's haven is the human heart. Martin Luther came to see this and it caused him to say, "I am more afraid of my own heart than of the pope and all his cardinals."
It would seem that firing up the bullhorn and engaging every single Christian listener, Sheeple People, or Joe Schmoe on the street would be a perfect remedy to informing them of every single thing they are doing wrong that keeps them at enmity with Christ, but I would contest it doesn't. They are already at enmity and will stay there until He draws them unto Himself. Fortunately, He has provided a means by which we can participate in that process. It's called preaching the Gospel, and that includes Christ crucified. The sole transformation of deliverance from these things Christian or unbeliever, is the transforming power of the Gospel. As some of us so often forget, the Gospel is for everyday, not just THAT day you were saved.
"By piety I mean that union of reverence and love to God which the knowledge of his benefits inspires. For, until men feel that they owe everything to God, that they are cherished by his paternal care, and that he is the author of all their blessings, so that nought is to be looked for away from him, they will never submit to him in voluntary obedience; nay, unless they place their entire happiness in him, they will never yield up their whole selves to him in truth and sincerity."
-Calvins Institutes book 1 ch. 2, Knowledge of God.