Listen to me now, all of you, and understand this, There is nothing outside a man which can enter into him and make him [unclean]. It is the things which come out of a man that make him [unclean]!
This text would have ASTONISHED Jesus’ Jewish listeners. The Pharisees had MANY laws regarding what was clean and unclean, allowed and forbidden, to eat. If you ate from among the unclean list, then you were unclean. But Jesus acts to reverse the standard of the day, once again. He reminds those listening that only the thoughts, actions, beliefs and values that originate within the heart and soul of a person can defile, can make a person unclean.
The source of our cleanliness is not external to our bodies, but instead is within our souls. Want to be “clean”? Allow your thoughts to be life- giving. Want to be clean? Allow your motivations to be honorable before God. Make sure what originates in your heart leads to life and not judgment, leads from good and not from evil. This is what it means to be clean. And it only happens from the inside out.