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Updated: Sep 27, 2021


Recently, I was having a conversation (watch the video here) with a friend of mine about whether any man possesses the authority to change YHVH's commands. In this discussion we trekked through some of the more common Scriptures pertaining to this topic, eventually camping out in Mark 7. I realized there are some inaccurate perceptions about this passage which eventually lead to wrong thinking about what Yeshua was actually saying to His audience, and wanted to tackle those ideas head-on in the following post.

Hold on to your bacon, we will attempt to address these common misconceptions by hitting at the actual point of the Yeshua's message and how it fits into the Biblical narrative.


The Misconception: Yeshua declared all edible items food

In Mark 7, Yeshua makes a statement that leads to some confusion, and for some, even appears to others to be a significant contradiction. Following His conversation with a hypocritical pharisee (V.1-13), Yeshua calls the people back to Him to explain the point of His message and expose the reality of the condition of their hearts.

Mark 7:14-15 esv

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."

My friend, like so many others, believes Yeshua clears the way for eating anything we want; effectively liberating humanity from what they call the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament. However, this point of view unhinges our behaviors from YHVH's instructions and makes Him out to be a liar and an unstable, flip-flopping deity who can't seem to make up His mind. The Bible makes it very clear that God does NOT change...ever. It is impossible to reconcile this magnitude of institutional change with what the Bible reveals about God's character, and all attempts to do so simply end in complete theological gibberish. If Yeshua's point was NOT to make all edible items on the planet "clean" eating, then what was His point of His teaching? To answer this question, we have to go back to what happen just before Yeshua's words to understand the overall message He was delivering. In this passage Yeshua is dining with His disciples while the Pharisees looked on, anxiously waiting to catch Him in disobedience. While He was dining, these pharisees found what they were looking for...A PROBLEM!

Mark 7:1-4 esv

"1 Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.)"

In discovering this supposed "transgression" the pharisees gleefully spring into action, and immediately point out the discrepancy!

Mark 7:5 esv "5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”

Why is this information important to understand before deciphering Yeshua's teaching to the disciples? It is the backdrop which compelled Yeshua to call the people back once His conversation with the Pharisees was complete. Two key points are revealed in this previous verses which help us understand the teaching more clearly.

  1. The pharisees' issue was about traditional washing hands, not Biblical dietary restrictions given in the Torah. (V.2)

  2. Yeshua was accused of breaching man-made tradition, not a command of YHVH from the Torah. (V.4-5)

This is critical as it reveals that Yeshua nor the pharisees were dealing with food at all. Instead, He was dealing with the error of the Pharisees in elevating their own commands over YHVH's commands causing them not only to live in hypocrisy but also to fall into actual disobedience to God's commands. Yeshua wisely addresses this issue immediately.

Mark 7:6-9 esv

"6 And He said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” 9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!

He goes on to explain how they do not obey YHVH in their treatment of their parents, not

only exposing the hand-washing hypocrisy, but also their deepening transgression of other Godly commands (V.10-13). Yeshua makes it clear the food is irrelevant to the complaint at hand, it is actually the pharisees' evil and rebellious hearts toward YHVH, leading them into clear disobedience to God's commands. The critical issue Yeshua exposes has nothing to do with dietary laws and everything to do with how they were justifying sin and disobedience while appearing to be righteous by their own man-made standards. Yeshua exposed the pharisees for what they really were, false teachers who established their own burdensome rules who led themselves and the people into disobedience to YHVH. When we revisit verses 14-15 we will see now what the real issue is, a heart of willful disobedience toward YHVH.

Mark 7:14-15 esv

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."

Yeshua isn't saying, "eat, drink, and be merry!" He is saying, "look, your dirty hands aren't the issue, it is your hearts which are leading you to reckless disobedience which is the real problem in God's eyes." It was a wicked heart that led the pharisees to be more concerned about their traditions than God's commands. It was a wicked heart that led them to seek to trap Yeshua according to their own standards of righteousness. It was their wicked hearts that were on full display as they attempted to hold the Son of God accountable to their man-made rules while brazenly rejecting the instructions of the Father.

Mark 7:18-23 esv

"18 And 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.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Yeshua wasn't redefining their understanding of "food", He exposed the lie the pharisees taught that dirty hands make what God called "clean," unclean. In fact, if Yeshua was truly redefining food, He would be making the same error He rightly corrected the pharisees for, making up His own commands, while rejecting YHVH's instructions.

To make matters worse many people often fall into the error of believing the line "Thus He declared all foods clean" justifies eating anything they want. Yet His audience, a bunch of Jewish people, understood food through only one guideline, the Torah. Yeshua didn't change the definition of food, He simply removed the reckless man-made traditions that attempted to make what YHVH already determined to be clean food, unclean because of an individual's dirty hands.

He then took it a step further and taught His disciples that disobedience is what really makes a man unclean before God. What is in a man's heart is made known according to his actions or deeds. Those actions become the outward reflection of a man's heart toward God, revealing the sincerity of their love and devotion or exposing their rotten roots through the bad fruit they produce. Those who love Him obey Him, those who don't love Him rebel. There are multiple scriptures that tackle this topic, here are a few to consider:

Matthew 7:15-20 esv

"15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits."

Romans 2:6-11 esv

"6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality."

Revelation 20:11-12 esv

"11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done."

Proverbs 24:12 esv

"12 If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?"

1 Peter 1:14-19 esv

"14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot."

Yeshua's reply to the pharisees' hypocrisy is a double-edged sword. On one end He openly exposes the lawlessness of the pharisees who had established their own commands and rules which overruled and superseded YHVH's instructions. It was by their own unrighteous standard they judged the people of God. On the other end Yeshua exposes the condition of the heart which leads to a man's defilement before God. The root is rebelliousness which leads to the bad fruit of disobedience to YHVH's commands. It was in the act of disobedience a man's heart would be exposed before YHVH.

A significant error occurs when we determine Yeshua's phrase, "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" actually means we can eat whatever we want to. Yet Yeshua makes it clear, it is not the food you swallow that's the root problem, it is your willingness to disobey YHVH that exposes the real disease in your roots. If YHVH determines in His wisdom something is unclean to eat, then it is unclean to eat. No human has the authority upend that understanding and truth.

You see, something is "unclean" because God told us it was, it is His everlasting truth. When He says "eat this, not this", it is His everlasting truth. Man cannot determine righteousness ourselves apart from God, that is the mistake the pharisees made. When we mishandle Yeshua's words to mean "go ahead and disobey now, it's going to be fine", we are no different than the pharisees Yeshua was correcting in Mark 7. Unfortunately, this pungent disease is prevalent in the roots of many so-called believers. "Believers" who establish their own traditions, their own days and times, and their own forms of righteousness which are leading many away from God's good and righteous instructions.

YHVH warns His people of falling into this error by following evil and wicked people who will attempt to teach them to reject His commands and establish their own.

Daniel 7:24-26 esv

"24 As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them; he shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings. 25 He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand

or a time, times, and half a time. 26 But the court shall sit in judgment, and his dominion shall be taken away, to be consumed and destroyed to the end."

In this prophecy, it is the wicked beast who comes against YHVH, deceiving God's people to no longer follow His "times" and His Torah. I certainly do not want to side with this rebellious and wicked beast. The beasts end is one of judgement and destruction, as will be the end of anyone who chooses to walk in the same rebellion. We must be careful to do what YHVH instructs us, trusting Him with our lives and seeking His ways above our own. It is in establishing our own forms of righteousness we are lulled into rejecting the commands of God. This error will only lead to our destruction and condemnation and is the direct fruit of a tree who has lost its connection with the Living Water, and will only ever produce bad fruit.



  1. Yeshua corrected the pharisees for establishing their own commands while not following God's commands.

  2. He directly corrected them for their error, challenging them even further, by exposing their man-made traditions as sinful rebellion before God.

  3. By declaring all "foods" clean, Yeshua simply disconnects the people from a false man-made standard of righteousness, and plugs them back into the life-giving truth of YHVH.

  4. What God declares clean, no one can declare unclean. Yeshua was not redefining "food", He was exposing the rebelliousness of men's hearts.

  5. This parable and teaching is about understanding the wickedness of our hearts, made manifest through our evil deeds which make us unclean before YHVH. It's not what we swallow in and of itself that is the root of uncleanliness before God, but the true nature of our hearts which motivates us to intentionally disobey YHVH's instructions that is the real issue.

  6. It is our disobedience that exposes our unloving and rebellious heart toward YHVH. If I eat what He told me not to eat, the item I am eating is not what condemns me, it is my evil heart which led me to disobey God and eat it that condemns me.

Please do not let this truth slip past you today. After reading this, you may realize the condition of your heart is one like the pharisees or those who blindly follow them into disobedience. There is hope and forgiveness for you, but that forgiveness comes at a steep price, the perfect Son of God, Yeshua, who being innocent willingly died to covered our blood-guilt before God because of our rebellion. Trust in His atonement, turn back to the Father, and once again seek His ways above all other man-made traditions. He can bring life back to those dead and diseased roots as you drink from His Living Water.


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