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Mark 7:15

ESV 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."
NIV Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them."
NASB there is nothing outside the person which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which come out of the person are what defile the person .'
CSB Nothing that goes into a person from outside can defile him but the things that come out of a person are what defile him."
NLT It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart. '
KJV There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.
NKJV There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man.

What does Mark 7:15 mean?

The scribes from Jerusalem join the local Pharisees, criticizing the disciples who ate without washing (Mark 7:1–2). Elders before them had twisted a rule God gave only to the priests into an unnecessary ceremony to try to ensure the Jews' holiness. In time, their tradition grew in importance and they taught that the people would become defiled without it.

"Defile" is from the Greek root word koinoo. At its most benign, it means to become common, but it also means to be unclean or profane. The scribes and Pharisees teach that food at the marketplace can become unclean either by the hands of the buyer or the seller. Eating unclean food causes the person to become unclean, himself. The remedy is to wash before eating.

Jesus points out that these religious leaders don't understand what "unclean" means. In the ceremonial law, God gave standards for what the Jews were to eat and what they were to avoid. But eating shrimp or bacon is nothing compared to the selfishness and pride that fills the hearts of the scribes and Pharisees. Ungodly attitudes identify that you are already defiled in your heart. Neglecting to wash your hands has nothing to do with your heart. The religious leaders turn cleanness into a cult while dismissing the spirit of the law.
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