Matthew: Jesus’ Parable About What Defiles A Man

Memory Verse: Matthew 15:11

15:1-9 Jesus Challenges Hypocrisy

  • 15:1-2 After Jesus miraculously feeds over 5,000 people (14:1-21), walks on water, and heals all the sick that were brought to Him (14:22-36) the scribes—(Jews who could read, write and acted as a secretary making copies and interpreting the Old Testament. Thus becoming teachers and authorities concerning the law) and Pharisees—(a religious sect who hypocritically try to follow the law by making their own standards and tradition) from Jerusalem came to Him in Galilee (in the land of Gennesaret). They asked Jesus the following question: “Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread (food).” Two things: (1) This wasn’t a problem of personal hygiene (as it is a good thing to wash your hands before you eat) but it was a misunderstanding of the law (probably Exodus 30:17-21) that prescribed the priest to wash their hands. Through tradition this was extended to the common people as a sign of righteousness and outward obedience to God. This was false. (2) They didn’t accuse Jesus directly but His disciples, but this was equally a charge against Him since it would have been understood that it was Jesus who deliberately taught them to not do this.
  • 15:3-6 Jesus answers their question with a question: “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” Jesus’ question pointed directly to the problem that the scribed and pharisees had: they elevated their own tradition over God’s commands. Jesus continues to give an example of this problem:
  • God’s command: “Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.” God wants children to highly esteem their parents including the way they speak about them.
    Exodus 20:12; 21:17; Deuteronomy 5:16; Leviticus 20:9
  • Their Tradition: “Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift (offering), by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free.” Their tradition means that a child takes everything he/she would have used to financially support his/her parents and gives it to God, when the child’s parents are in their old age or in a time of need, the child would not have the responsibility to give them a helping hand and not need to honor his/her parents in this instance.
  • Result: They made the commandment of God of no effect by their tradition. They made a vow against the command of God, meaning that their tradition forces them to break the commandment of God. This is the definition of hypocrisy—the practice of claiming to live by God’s commands but your own behavior does not conform.
  • 15:7-9 Jesus calls them “hypocrites” because they allowed an “offering to God” to cause them to “disobey God”. Then Jesus quotes a prophesy and applies it to them. From this we learn: (1) Outwardly they draw close to God and honor him but inwardly they are far from God and don’t honor Him. They might say all the right things, but they believe all the wrong things. (2) They teach the commandments of men as doctrines of God, thus their worship of God is to no avail (real worship is based in truth). The Bible is sufficient for us to know God’s will and it is the only way for us to be certain about God’s will. There are no traditions, teachers, other books or anything else that has higher authority than the Bible itself. This is why we need to read, study and understand the Bibles teachings.
    Isaiah 29:13

15:10-20 Jesus’ Focus Is The Heart

  • 15:10-11 Next, Jesus calls the multitude to Him so they could hear and understand the truth: a man is defiled by what comes out of him and not that which goes into him. This went directly against what the Pharisees believed. The reason they washed their hands was because they were afraid that they could have touched something that was “unclean” and if they touch their food it would become unclean and then if they ate it, they would become unclean or defiled. Jesus says this was a misunderstanding of the truth.
  • 15:12-14 Of course the Pharisees were offended by what Jesus said. His disciple came to Jesus and told Him they were offended. But Jesus responded to them by saying: (1) Every plant that His heavenly Father did not plant will be rooted up—this metaphor probably means  that God’s truth is planted by God and it is the only thing that will last, all other teachings will not last. (2) They should leave the Pharisees alone—meaning they aren’t to regard them as teachers of truth nor should they be worried about them being offended. They are blind leaders of the blind—meaning they have no spiritual enlightenment about the truth and they just like their followers are blind, which if the blind leading the blind, they both will fall into a ditch—meaning that disaster is their future.
  • 15:15-20 Finally, Peter asked Jesus to declare this parable (15:10-11) to them. First, Jesus address His disciples lack of understanding because they should have understood this truth. Second, Jesus starts to explain the parable: (1) Whatever enters the mouth goes into the belly, and then it is cast out into the latrine. Nothing about what a person eats or how they eat (even with unwashed hands) effects the heart of a person. Therefore, this can’t defile a person. (2) Anything that proceeds out of the mouth comes from the heart. Some of the things (these are examples not a complete list) that proceed out of the heart are: evil thoughts—evil thinking which lead to evil deeds or sin; murders—killing that starts with hatred in the heart; adulteries and fornications—all sexual sins that start with wrong desires in the heart; thefts—often pre-planning in the heart to take what isn’t yours; false witness—thinking and creating a false testimony in the heart about something, to lie; blasphemies—to think in the heart and then speak evil or slander against God or others. Therefore, because it starts and comes from the heart these things defile a person.
  • The heart represents the “inner person” or the real orientation, belief, motivation and attitude of a person. It is from the heart that we think, feel and make decisions. It is the source from which everything we do in life is issued from. The problem is that our hearts are born sinful—meaning it is not neutral but deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked or incurable on its own and if left untouched will lead to destruction. Each person is born a sinner in rebellion against God. Therefore, the biblical purpose of God’s commandments are to guide our hearts to be oriented towards God and the gospel so that we can be restored to God.
    Proverbs 4:23; 13:20; 22:6; Jeremiah 17:9; Psalm 58:3; 51:5

Review Questions

  • What question did the scribes and pharisees ask Jesus?
  • What was Jesus’ response to their question?
  • Why did Jesus call them hypocrites?
  • What was the parable Jesus told them? What did it mean?
  • Why is the “heart” so important?

On Homosexuality: On Open Letter Of Love

To Whom This Concerns:

In the world we now live in, this topic of homosexuality is one that causes a multitude of reactions and confusion. It causes many and often unfettered amounts of reactions. This makes it uncomfortable to talk about. But there are many reasons that compel me to speak on this issue and to speak from a vantage point of love. So please hear me out.

A Firm Biblical Position

I am not writing this post to explain why I think homosexuality is a sin. But I will state my position below so that it can be seen separate from all the mess that is out there. Also, you can know that I have read the books on “pro-gay theology” (which have done a great disservice to God’s word) and more importantly I have studied the Bible and here is the position:

The truth that the Bible teaches that should guide the moral actions of man about sexuality is that all sexual activities outside of the marriage relationship (between a man and a woman) are wrong.

Thus, we can conclude that fornication, homosexuality, pornography, bestiality, sex before marriage with the person you’re dating, sex with your family members, sex at parties, group sex, prostitution, rape, molestation, sex slaves, orgies, sexual fantasies, child molesting, etc. are all wrong and sinful. (And by extension transgender, cross-dressing)

Thus, my goal is not to call out homosexuality particularly, but all sin. It doesn’t matter what your attractions are, attractions are never to guide our lives, but the unchanging truth of God’s word does. (For example: Sexual pleasure can be received inside or outside of marriage. It can be received in heterosexual or homosexual relationships. But that doesn’t make it right. I am married to my wife. I can find sexual pleasure outside of my marriage, but I choose not to do so because of what the Bible teaches. I want to honour God and be faithful to my wife. In the same way, even though a person can find sexual pleasure in a homosexual relationship, they shouldn’t because of what the Bible teaches.)

Note: The Bible never has and never will accept any committed homosexual relationships. It is not possible to be a true believer and practice homosexuality habitually. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

For more about this position and the Bible references you can click here to read a post called: “What About Sexuality?

This position is not a position that comes from culture. I live in China. Many things are different here. I have learned to and am continuing to learn to adapt to the way of life here. But many also deny the existence of God. This is the cultural norm. In this aspect I don’t, can’t and won’t accept this cultural norm. In fact, I am here to challenge that very notion and declare the eternal existence of God seen from the creation of the world. Thus, my position is not political: conservative or liberal; it is not cultural: city or country; it is biblical—this is what God’s word clearly says. (Again, this post is not a Bible study about this topic, but it is an application of the stated position after coming to a conclusion from studying the Bible.)

For Those Who Are Homosexual

I believe the Bible with all my heart. The Bible states that homosexuality is a sexual sin. Sin has consequences. Sin brings death and after death eternal damnation in hell. Sin separates man from God. But God loved us so much that while we were yet sinners, He sent Jesus to die for us. Jesus died for our sins. He was raised for our justification. Through faith in Jesus, our relationship with God can be restored. We can never do this on our own because we are hopeless sinners.

That being so, in love, I can only say to turn from your sin. Turn away from any sinful lifestyle. Turn away from homosexuality. Turn to Jesus. Turn by faith. This is the most important thing in life. Embrace Jesus, not sin. Embrace Jesus, not homosexuality. You can’t embrace both–it is a contraction in the most offensive terms.

My Attitude Towards Sin As A Follower of Jesus

Thus, as a believer I hate sin. Sin kills. Sin condemns. Sin is punished. Sin separates. Sin destroys. As a believer, I fight against sin. I am at war against it. I don’t want to commit sin, even though there are times that I do, I want to live a life that is holy unto God. I am a man in submission to the will of God. I am not my own. I live for Jesus. If my desires, lusts, or wants are contrary to God or His word, then I must submit to His will, not my own.

For that reason, I hate homosexuality. Because it is a sin. But I don’t hate you, the homosexual. But I hate your sin. I hate the temporal pleasures it gives and how this pleasure deceives you to live in rebellion against God.

Even in our changing culture, where sexuality is being seen in a positive light and promoted, it doesn’t make it okay. The definition of what is or is not sin never comes from what the majority of people think at a certain given time in history. This judgment of sin does not come from ourselves. The Bible is judging. If you are a homosexual you are wrong. It is sin. But you are loved. And there is hope for you. Jesus made a way to free you from your sin. Through repentance and faith in Jesus, your life can be radically changed.

Applying What It Means To Love God And To Love Others In This Circumstance

Finally, love compels me to care about others. To care for others I must say the truth. To show my affection for others I can’t approve of their homosexual actions or relationships. This has several practical applications for daily life. I am to be so concerned with their souls that I don’t want to do anything that would show approval for something that leads to eternal separation from God.

Nor do I want sin to be commonplace in my life. I love my family. I desire to protect myself and my family from the influence and normality of sin that our culture inundates us with on a daily basis.

Accordingly, there are some practical stands I desire to take because I don’t want to mistakenly confirm anything that leads people to hell. Generally, I cannot accept nor endorse any sin—any way of life that causes people to live in continual rebellion against God. Specifically, concerning homosexuality, which is a very public and private sin…

  • I cannot celebrate homosexual relationships.
  • I cannot support homosexual relationships.
  • I cannot participate in anything that would endorse homosexual relationships.
  • I cannot attend homosexual weddings.
  • I cannot pretend a homosexual partner is part of our family (immediate or extended).
  • I cannot condone the open affection between you and your partner.
  • I cannot pretend there is nothing wrong with the homosexual relationship.
  • I cannot normalize homosexual relationships.

Please don’t misunderstand, these convictions are not because I want to disengage from or alienate friends and family who are homosexual from myself or my family, but their decisions to sin against God and to openly live a life of rebellion against God is them choosing to alienate themselves from me and my family.

A Final Plea

If you are a homosexual or you accept homosexuality, you are wrong according to the Bible, but I love you enough to tell you the truth. Repent of your sins before it’s too late. Believe in Jesus. Today is the day of salvation.

With Love,



A Note To Christians

Many well-intentioned Christians have been put in awkward circumstances concerning this topic. They don’t know how to choose what to do. They are told not to judge others. But ultimately to not say or do anything is to have a hating attitude towards that person who lives in sin and not a loving one. Real love hates sin. Real love accepts the truth. To celebrate, support, participate in or condone the sin of others is to sin yourself. It is time for you to take a stand, it is time for you to truly love others.

Have the right reaction to sin. Two common but wrong reactions are: (1) To talk about how wrong homosexuality is and to reject it and those who are homosexuals. But you never talk about Jesus and what He did on the cross for homosexuals to be saved from their sin. (2) To accept their homosexuality and condone their homosexual lifestyle in words or actions, not talking about anything negative. But you completely void what Jesus did on the cross for homosexuals to be saved from their sin and minimize the gospel. Both reactions are wrong because they avoid Jesus. The first one never explains grace and the second one doesn’t see the need for grace. The proper response is to inject Jesus into the conversation. Don’t be a lazy Christian who tries to avoid the pressure and stress of preaching the gospel and sharing the good news. Your friend or family member will die and go to hell without Jesus. Speak up.

March 2018 Prayer Letter

One of the great joys of being on the mission field is to see God radically change people’s lives and see them changed forever. Glory to the God of our salvation!

Thank you for praying for boldness! The Lord granted your requests and gave us much boldness over the Chinese New Year holiday. Here are a few ways that the prayer was answered:

  • Our American teammates were able to live with some Chinese families in the villages and did the best they could to share the gospel with others.
  • One day we purposefully went out to a random village to share the gospel. Our two teams were both invited into houses and boldly preached the gospel.
  • The assistant pastor, myself and others went visiting people’s homes to “pay a New Year call” and used this cultural visiting time to share the gospel inside of Chinese people’s homes. Jesus was made known.
  • After one of our recent services, I asked those who wanted us to pray for their salvation to raise their hands. Two ladies did and after the service one lady placed her faith in Jesus. Praise God!
  • The father of one of the young men training has been attending our church on and off for over a month. Before he was to return to his hometown upon the end of the holidays, I asked him to come to the church so I could explain the gospel face to face. During that meeting, He asked the Lord to save him.

Thank you! We know that we couldn’t do anything without the help of God’s people. Thank you for giving, praying and being a part of our team, Project China. We are especially fond of you! Let us continue pressing forward so that we can know Jesus and make Him known!

Matthew: Live By Faith In Jesus

Memory Verse: Matthew 14:27

14:22-33 Jesus Spends Time In Prayer

  • 14:22-23 After Jesus miraculously provided food for over 5,000 people (14:1-21), He perceived that there were those who wanted to come and make Him king. So He immediately compelled His disciples to precede Him by getting into a ship and going to the other side. Jesus would stay behind and send the multitudes away. Once He had sent the multitudes away, He went up into a mountain alone to pray. By the time evening was come, Jesus was alone in the mountain praying. Application: After doing a great miracle among the multitudes, Jesus also knew the importance of private prayer. This is a reminder of our need of private individual prayer between us and God the father.
    John 6:15
  • Prayer is when a believer speaks to God. We have faith that God can hear them and that He will respond according to His will. Believers should be constantly praying and paying attention to what is going on so that they can make their requests known to God and thank Him for when He answers prayer.
  • The Example Prayer: Jesus gave us an example prayer so that we would know how to pray. He addressed God and asked Him to do many things. His prayer included: His desire to see God glorified and God’s will to be done; asking God to provide for that day’s needs, for God’s grace, and help to live right.
    Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-4

14:24-33 Jesus Walks On Water

  • 14:24-26 The disciples were well into their journey and the ship was now in the midst of the sea. The wind was contrary to the direction they were going and the ship was being tossed with waves. Then in the “fourth watch of the night” which is sometime between 3 to 6 in the morning  (this is based on the Roman system which divided the time from 6 PM to 6 AM into four watches) Jesus went to the disciples in the ship among the storm by walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the sea, they were troubled or distressed because they didn’t know it was Jesus, but instead believed it was a spirit  or ghost and they cried out for fear. Application: In the midst of obeying Jesus or living the Christian life we will go through hard times and our faith will be tested.
  • 14:27 Immediately Jesus spoke unto His disciples, saying: (1) “Be of good cheer”—meaning they are to have confidence and assurance which results in optimism. (2) “It is I”—meaning He was identifying Himself reassuring His disciples that it was Him and not a spirit, but also possibly referencing an expression that points to Himself being God. (3) “Be not afraid”—meaning they didn’t need to continue to be fearful, anxious, or apprehensive about their situation in the storm or the event of Jesus walking on the water towards them. Application: Jesus is calling His disciples to live by faith in the midst of the storm. As believers, we don’t live lives of doubt, fear, anxiety, etc., but instead we live our lives by faith in Jesus which gives us confidence, optimism and boldness.
    Matthew 1:20; 9:2, 22; 10:26, 28, 31; Exodus 3:14
  • 14:28-31 Peter responded to Jesus by asking if He could come to Jesus on the water. Jesus told him to “Come”. Then Peter got out of the ship and started to walk on the water towards Jesus. But the wind was still boisterous—the storm had not been calmed. Thus he concentrated on the storm and became afraid. He panicked and began to sink in the sea. He cried out to Jesus to save him. Immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand and caught Peter and said to him, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” Application: Peter was expected to express faith in the midst of the storm. Faith in Jesus who was walking on the water should have been greater than the fear of the storm that was happening around Him. Peter was the only one who had the faith to get out of the boat and to walk on the water for a moment, but Jesus calls Him to an even greater faith. His doubt hindered the miraculous. We can learn two important points from this: (1) Jesus wants us to do great things, He invites us to get out of the boat, but our faith has to have endurance, it is a lasting faith. (2) Jesus doesn’t want us to live a life of doubt, panic and anxiety, but wants us to overcome those fears by a constant faith in Him. No matter what is going on in your life right now, no matter what problems you are dealing with, Jesus wants to overcome them by a steady faith in Him.
  • 14:32-33 Finally, Jesus and Peter got on the ship and the wind ceased. Then the disciples and whoever else was in the ship came and worshipped Jesus, saying that He truly is the Son of God. They responded to what happened in worship and recognition of who Jesus really is. They were no longer doubting. Application: What is your response to Jesus? Everything that Jesus does points us to understanding who He is and calls for us to respond in worship because He truly is the Son of God—meaning He is equal with God.
  • If you aren’t a believer, then your first step is faith in Jesus. You are a sinner in need of God’s salvation, otherwise you will be cast into hell. Jesus wants to save you from hell. You must recognize who He is, what He has done and place your faith in Him.
  • If you are a believer, then get out of the boat and attempt great things for God. Stop allowing the fear of your circumstances to keep you from getting out of the boat. After you get out of the boat, you might fail or have doubts, but don’t worry, Jesus is there with you. Learn to have great faith—keep your focus on Jesus as you attempt great things for God.

14:34-36 Jesus Heals the Diseased

  • 14:34-36 Finally, when they were gone over to the other side they came into the land of Gennesaret. When the people of that place had knowledge of Jesus, they sent out into all the nearby regions and brought unto Him all that were diseased. Apparently Jesus’ testimony as a healer was well known in that area. Maybe they heard about the women who was healed from her issue of blood when she touch the hem of Jesus’ garment because they too besought Jesus that they might only touch the hem of His garment. The result was the same for them: as many as touched were made perfectly whole. They came to Jesus by faith seeking healing and they found it. At that moment, they were completely healed of whatever disease they had. Jesus is Lord, have faith in Him.
    Matthew 9:20-22

Review Questions

  • What did Jesus do after He sent the multitudes away?
  • Who walked on water?
  • Why did Peter start sinking?
  • What happened when Jesus got on the boat?
  • When they got to the other side, what did Jesus do?