August 26, 2009


Dr. Jay asked the group yesterday if we'd be preaching THE LIST on Sunday. You know the one, the list at the end of the lesson from Mark, the one about defilement, the one that is hugely popular in churches not known as mainline protestant.

Ok, you don't know the list. That's OK, I'll paste it here for you:

For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these things come from within, and they defile a person.

Two things come to mind if I were to preach THE LIST. The first is that Jesus calls them "evil intentions." This is peculiar because, aside from deceit, envy, and pride (and maybe avarice, licentiousness and folly) this list is comprised mostly of actions: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, wickedness, slander. Unless, of course, you subscribe to Jesus' expansion of the law from action to intention wherein lustful thoughts toward someone are the same as fornication (or adultery or licentiousness); wherein angry thoughts toward someone are the same as murder (or wickedness); wherein coveteous thoughts toward someone's stuff are the same as theft (or avarice or envy). It is a whole lot harder to think of oneself as perfect, while everyone else is a screwup (pride, folly) when you expand from actions to intentions.

The second thought that comes to mind if I were to preach THE LIST is that most of these things have a prescription offered by James in his letter - learn to bridle your tongue. For me, I know that when my tongue is not in check, my thoughts are even worse. But when, by the grace of God, I'm able to not poke fun, not add sarcasm, not belittle verbally - my intentions, and by this I mean my internal monologue, get cleaned up too.

THE LIST is not popular in mainline protestantism, mostly because it makes us feel bad. But THE LIST is worth preaching, entirely because it reminds us that it is by Christ alone we are saved from our sinful actions and even moreso from our defiled intentions.

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