Matt. 15:1-20




Jesus was teaching in Galilee.

A committee of scribes and Pharisees was present from Jerusalem.



This committee was listening to what Jesus and His disciples were saying.

And watching what they were doing.



Suddenly a member of the committee asked a question.

“Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?”



Then, he identified the tradition of the elders he thought the disciples were     


He said, “They wash not their hands when they eat bread.”



The elders had a tradition of washing their hands at least three times when     

they ate.

They washed their hands the first time before they ate.



They washed their hands the second time in the middle of their meal.

And they washed their hands the third time at the end of their meal.



Originally, they washed only once.

They ate with their fingers.



They got food all over their fingers.

So they needed to wash.

Later, they decided it would be a good sanitation practice to wash before they        


After all, they were going to eat with their fingers.



Still later, they added a third hand washing.

In order to be extra clean, they washed during the middle of the meal.



Thus, they established a tradition of three hand washings.

And this committee of scribes and Pharisees was asking, “Why do thy         

disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?”



“Why do they defile themselves?”

“Why don't they wash their hands three times when they eat?”



Instead of answering their question, Jesus asked one of His own.

“Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?”



Then, He identified the commandment of God they were breaking.

“God commanded, saying, Honor thy father and mother;”



“And he that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.”

“But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, it is a gift, by    

whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;”



“And honor not his father or his mother, he shall be free.”

Jesus was saying, “God [God Almighty] told you to honor your father and   




“He even said, If you don't honor your father and mother you should be put to       


“But look at what you’ve done.”

“When your father and mother needs financial help,”

“You tell them that you intend to give your money to God.”



“You say its okay to ignore what God said as long as you intend to give your         

money to God.”

“Thus have ye made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.”



Notice, that we are talking about two traditions here.

The scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus, “Why are your disciples breaking the         

hand washing traditions of the elders?”



And Jesus asked, “Why are your elders establishing traditions that break the

commandments of God?”

Jesus turned to the crowd.



He said, “Its not what goes into your mouth that defiles you.”

“Its what comes out of your mouth that defiles you.”



“Its not food on your fingers that defiles you.”

“Its what comes through your lips that defiles you.”



This confused His disciples.

They asked Him to explain it.



In essence, He said, “Its not what you eat that makes you a sinner.”

“Sin comes from inside you.”



You cannot wash your hands and be clean before God.

You have to do something about what's on the inside.


Its not enough for the outer man to look good.

Something has to be done to clean up the inner man.



“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications,         

thefts, false witness, blasphemies.”

“These are the things which defile a man.”



“But to eat with unwashed hands defileth not a man.”

Sin is in your heart;



Not on your hands.

Pontius Pilate could not wash his hands and cleanse himself from his part in  

the death of Jesus.



What is sin?

The Bible gives at least six definitions.



First, sin is the transgression of the Law.

John said, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law;”



“For sin is the transgression of the law” (I in. 3:4).

The law refers to the Commandments of God.



They are holy;

Guidelines for us to live by.



God wants us to keep them. We are sinning when we break.

Its important to see this.

There is a lot of pressure on people today to be Politically Correct.

Christians are often criticized for disagreeing with society's standards.

But society's standards are not God's standards.

Society's standards change.

But God's standards are changeless.



Society's standards are always being lowered.

But God's standards are never lowered.



Society accepts many things today it would not accept fifty years ago.

Society even accepts many things today that the Word of God says is an      

abomination unto God.



Many of today's traditions are the traditions of unsaved men;

Not the traditions of the Bible.



And regardless of what liberal preachers and theologians say;

And regardless of what the world says;



We are sinning if we do not keep the Commandments of God.

This is the very issue that Jesus was addressing.



“Why are your elders establishing traditions that break the Commandments of        


I think He was saying, “Don't let the moral decay of your society pull you     

away from God.”



“If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the ditch.”

If we follow blind leaders who ignore the Commandments of God, we will    

please those blind leaders.



But we will not please God.

And when those blind leaders fall,


We will fall with them.

Then, Jesus may ask, “Why did you accept a way of life that violates the      

Word of God?”



“Why did you make the Word of God of no effect by your lifestyle?”

“Why did you take the Commandments of God off the walls of your  




“Why did you take the Commandments of God out of the rooms of your     


Write this down.



Its better to please God than men.

Second, knowing to do good, but not doing it is sin.



James said, “To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is   

sin” (James 4:17).

We Christians often equate our calling with respectability instead of     




We rightly adhere to that part about living a respectable life.

But we wrongly overlook that part about “taking up a cross.”



We dare not kill or steal.

But we are lukewarm about some of our other Christian responsibilities.



Some refuse to witness.

Some refuse to go the second mile.



We know that we should turn the other cheek,

But we don't.

We know that we should do good to our enemies,

But we put them down.



We know that we should pray regularly.

But we are too busy.



We know that we should study our Bible.

But we don't.



These are sins of omission.

And everyone in here is guilty.



There's not a person in this room who is not sinning.

Third, anything that is not of faith is sin.



Paul said, “Whatever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23).

He said, “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6).



If we want to please God, we have to act in faith.

But how do we act in faith?



We have to do two things:

First, to act in faith, we have to properly train our conscience.



We do that by getting to know the Scriptures.

We need to hear the Scriptures preached and taught.



And we need to study them for ourselves.

Learning the Scriptures trains our conscience.


Second, to act in faith, we have to learn to do what we inwardly believe is      right.

When we know the Scriptures, we know the will of God.



And when we know the will of God our trained conscience will bother us, if  

we are doing wrong.

And when we know the will of God our trained conscience will not bother us,        

if we are doing right.



Whatever is not of faith is sin.

But faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.



The Word of God trains our conscience so we can act by faith.

King David said, “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin

against thee” (Psa. 119:11).



He hid the Word of God in his heart because he did not want to sin against   


Look at Jesus.



He spent forty days in the wilderness.

Satan tempted Him three times.



And every time he did, Jesus quoted the Scriptures.

The Scriptures reveal the will of God.



Knowing the Scriptures will help us to act in faith.

When we act in faith, we avoid sin.



And we please God.

Fourth, all unrighteousness is sin.

This is what I John 5:17 says: “All unrighteousness is sin.”

Isaiah said, “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as         

filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6).



I want to say something here that is difficult for some people to accept.

We are all sinners.



And everything we do is tarnished.

That sounds harsh doesn't it.



We are all sinners.

And everything we do is tarnished.



Consider this example.

We just took up an offering.



This was a good thing.

But it was tarnished.




Because some could have given more.



Some did not tithe.

Some may have given for the wrong reason.



None of us gave until it hurts.

Our gifts were not a major sacrifice.



We all fell short of the “widow's mite.”

This is the point.

No matter how far we go,

We could have gone farther.



We could have done more.

The good part was good.



But the shortfall tarnished what we did.

And all of us hold back to a degree.



Fifth, sin is a disease of the soul.

The Psalmist said, “Heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee”

(Psalms 41:4).



He was saying, “I need to be healed.”

“I am sick.”



“There is something wrong inside of me.”

Notice, that Jesus told His disciples, “Those things which proceed out of the         

mouth come forth from the heart, and they defile the man.”



We sin because we have a disease in our soul.

We inherited our disease from Adam.



We call it our sin nature.

Paul had something to say about this.



Its so complicated, I want to read it from the Living Bible.

Paul said, “I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful    

nature is concerned.”



“No matter which way I turn I can't make myself do right.”

“I want to, but I can't.”



“When I want to do good, I don't.”

“And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway.”



“Now if I am doing what I don't want to,”

“It is plain where the trouble is:”



“Sin still has me in its evil grasp.”

He was saying, “I'm not perfect.”



“I'm sick.”

“I know I'm sick because I fail to do the good I want to do.”



There are times when we desire to do right.

But our good intentions bomb out.



We say something we didn't intend to say.

We do something we didn't intend to do.



We didn't say something we intended to say.

We didn't do something we intended to do.



What we don't want to do we sometimes do.

And what we want to do we sometimes don't do.



We have a disease in our soul.

That disease is sin.


We’ve got our priorities mixed up.

Sixth, the thought of foolishness is sin.



“The thought of foolishness is sin” (Prov. 24:9).

But what is the thought of foolishness?



The thought of foolishness is the idea that we can leave God out of our life.

Its the idea that we can ignore God and get away with it.



Do you remember what Jesus said comes out of the heart?

“Out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts, etc.”



Sin is the result of foolish thoughts in our heart.

Adultery, blasphemy, lying, stealing, etc. begin as foolish thoughts in our       




They begin because we think we can ignore God.

And there will be no consequences.



That's the thought of foolishness.

And the thought of foolishness is sin.



So what are the things which defile a man?

(1) Breaking the commandments of God defiles us.



(2) Knowing we should do things like pray, witness, study our Bibles, etc. but        

not doing it defiles us.

(3) Failing to exercise faith in God defiles us.




(4) All unrighteousness defiles us.

(5) Sin in our souls defiles us.



And (6) The foolish thought that we can ignore God and get away with it      

defiles us.

What can we do about it?



It takes more than washing our hands three times when we eat.

Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world” (Jn. 8:12).



The Psalmist said, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my     

path” (Psa. 119:106).

And John said, “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have    

fellowship one with another,”



“And the blood of Jesus Christ, His [God's] Son, cleanseth us from all sin”

(I John 1:17).

To walk in the light means to obey God;



To do God's will;

To do what Jesus and the Bible says.



If we will do what God wants us to do, the blood of Jesus [God's Son] will  

cleanse any and every sin in our heart.

Water will cleanse us on the outside.



But it takes the blood of Jesus to cleanse us on the inside.

What can wash away my sin?





Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

We have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins




“Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ   


“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood”    

(Rom. 3:24-25).



The blood of Jesus Christ will cleanse us.

And as long as we walk in the light, it will never stop.



Are you trusting in the blood?

Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins (Heb. 9:22).



If you are not trusting in the blood of Jesus, you will not be forgiven.

Will anyone accept Christ today?




1. Nothing But The Blood

2. Blessed Assurance