By Colleen Donahue

Are you making yourself sick? You act one way before men but inside you know there is impurity, wrong motives, bad thinking and pride -- all of which you have continually tried to keep hidden. If you are at this point and long for the holiness that God wants for you then this study will clarify.....

How Do We Get A Clean Heart?

Studies continued from Matthew 15:1-20

No Compromise: Matthew 15: 1-9 & Mark 7:1-15

Day 1- There are many issues in this life when compromise is a natural part of living in peace with others. But, should we always compromise so that we have peace at any cost? Jesus answers that for us in this passage. Read both passages to start our study.
Matthew 15:1-9 and is further amplified in Mark 7:1-15.

Some Pharisees and teachers of the law had traveled all the way from Jerusalem to Galilee to ask Jesus a question that was a real puzzle to them. Reread:
Matthew 15: 1-2 / Mark 7:1-5

To be "clean" meant that a person would be able to approach and worship God. The state of "uncleanness" came by touching or eating certain things. Uncleanness was infectious and the only way to stop it was through a series of ceremonial washings. This was all at the back of their question to Jesus.

Day 2- The real issue here was not just about washing hands. This was a clash between two views of religion, two ways of thinking, two views on the demands of God. There was to be no compromise by the Lord on these issues. Jesus answered their question with one of his own.
Matthew 15:3

Then he went on to amplify what he meant......
Matthew 15:4-6 / Mark 7:9-13

Notice that Jesus was giving them just one example but the fact was.....
Mark 7:13b

Three ways that the Jewish leaders and Jesus clashed.

Day 3- Religion to the Scribes and Pharisees was the observance of outward rules.
Mark 7:3-4 / Hebrews 9:10

Day 4- But Jesus made it clear that religion had its seat in a man's heart. It was an inward transformation and not just an outward show. In fact, his coming would break the bondage of all the man-made rules that nobody could keep.
Colossians 2:8, 20-23 / Titus 1:14

Day 5- Man loves ceremony and tradition. It makes us feel good and deceives us that we are establishing our relationship with God by our own efforts and hard work. But no amount of effort by man can establish our relationship with God. Jesus came so that we could have a relationship with God the Father. How was this to be accomplished?
Acts 15:11 / Romans 3:24 / Romans 11:6 / Ephesians 2: 4-9

Day 6- The Pharisees required certain hand washing rituals to get right with God. What does Jesus require of us?
John 3: 15, 16,36 / Romans 10: 9,13 / 2 Peter 3:9

The "believing" spoken of in these verses did not mean just a mental assent. It meant aligning ones whole life in a commitment to Christ.

Day 7- The second clash between Jesus and the Scribes and Pharisees came because they not only demanded the observance of outward rules, but they also required a very legalistic outlook on all of life resulting in harshness to other men and women.
Matthew 7:3 / Matthew 23: 3-4

Day 8- Christ wanted to make clear that real religion would issue forth in compassion and kindness that were actually above and beyond the law. What were the Scribes and Pharisees neglecting?
Matthew 23:23

Day 9- Finally, the religion of the Scribes and Pharisees amounted to ritual, ceremonial law. Christ adamantly condemned the hypocrisy of ceremonial religion.
Matthew 23:25-28 / Titus 1:16

Day 10- This hypocrisy had actually been condemned by God way before Christ ever came.
1 Samuel 15:22 / Isaiah 1:13 / Isaiah 29:13

True Religion

Day 11- What was true "religion" by God's definition?
Deuteronomy 10:12 / Ecclesiastes 12:13 / Hosea 6:6 / Micah 6:8

Day 12- True religion was what Jesus was bringing the people back to. True religion would issue forth from a clean heart and it would produce a loving life -- both to God and men.
Mark 12:33 / Romans 13: 10 / James 1:27

Day 13- What did Jesus call men that held tightly to their tradition while neglecting God's clear word?
Matthew 15:7-9 / Matthew 23:13 / Mark 7: 6-8

Day 14- We might be feeling rather righteous at this point and glad that we don't act this way. But how might we be doing the same things?
Luke 6: 46 / Romans 2: 1, 21 / James 2:15-16 / James 3:10

Real Goodness and Real Evil - Matthew 15: 10-20

Day 15- The words Jesus speaks now in this passage are both alarming and revolutionary to the Jew. Christ negates the food laws of the Old Testament. They may still stand for health reasons but they would never again be the foundation of religion. Why?
Matthew 15:11

Day 16- The Scribes and Pharisees as the religious leaders prided themselves in outward performance -- in the keeping of God's law, and all the Jewish regulations thought to help in keeping God's law. These men were quite indignant by the Lord's statement and the disciples asked Christ if he knew they were offended. (See Matthew 15:12). What advise did Christ give to his disciples?
Matthew 15:14

Why weren't the Scribes and Pharisees good role models for the people?
Matthew 15:13

Day 17- The disciples perhaps too steeped themselves in Jewish life and traditions were not grasping all that Jesus was saying and needed plain explanation.
Matthew 15: 15-16

What is the physical process of any food that we eat - blessed or unblessed - kosher or unkosher - prepared or unprepared?
Matthew 15: 17

Day 18- Jesus wants them to see that true religion does not consist in outward rules, regulation, and ceremony. It consists in our love for God and our relationships with men. It is not HOW we act that is as important as WHY we do it. It is not what we do that is as important as what we actually wish to do. For a person can be faultless in externals and yet have a heart that is full of evil and bitter thoughts.
Matthew 23: 25-28

Day 19- What is it that really makes us unclean and therefore separated from God and man?
Jeremiah 17:9 / Matthew 15: 11, 18

Day 20- Jesus makes it plain once and for all that external things we do can't make us clean because the dirt is inside of us. Our hearts are like cess pools! What are some of the things manifested in our life when our hearts are dirty?
Matthew 15: 19-20 / Mark 7: 21-23 / Hebrews 3:12-13

Jesus clearly lets us know that the state of men's hearts is one of depravity and continual evil - even for those of us that think we are pretty good. At this point in Matthew he does not go into what can be done so that our hearts can be clean and full of life rather than death. But for our sakes we will answer that question now.

How Do We Get A Clean Heart?


Agree with God that your heart is full of dirt. You have pride that keeps you comparing yourself with others so that you always come out superior. You have wrong and lustful thoughts. You have motives behind your actions of benevolence that will keep you in control or benefit you in some way. You say one thing but are thinking another. Recognize your condition and agree with God.
Jeremiah 17:9 / Mark 7:20-23

This is the first step when you see your condition as God sees you. This is what the Apostle Paul did.
Romans 7:14-24

If you are still rationalizing why you sin then you cannot be serious about wanting a clean heart. Your passing along detrimental information about a colleague is gossip. Your unclean thoughts are immoral. Your exaggeration is lying. Your overeating is gluttony. Your withholding of your tithe is stealing (from God). There is always a good reason why we do things that justify us before other men. But with God we must see sin for what it is. Sin is living independently from God. It stems from a heart that is rebellious towards God. You don't have just a little problem with sin -- you have rebellion! You may say you love God and want to serve Him but as long as you rationalize your behavior you are just kidding yourself--not God--just yourself. What does He say about our "old self" or "our flesh"?
Romans 8:7


Have you ever tried to do something that should have been left to a professional? You read the instructions, bought what was needed, and tried your best. But the results were so disappointing, especially because you made things worse!

Don't try to clean your own heart. You can't do it. Trying only leads to frustration and despair which is a worse situation than you had before. Make a commitment now to leave your dirty heart with God. He is more anxious for you to have a clean heart than you are. He is the one that must do the work. I'd like you to read these promises and circle all of the things that God is going to do or has done. Notice in all of these verses that nothing is said about what you will do.
Isaiah 1:25 / Ezekiel 11: 19-20 / Ezekiel 36: 25-29, 36b / Ezekiel 37:23

What does Isaiah compare all of our own good intentions and righteous efforts to?
Isaiah 64: 6

If our own efforts are worthless than how are we saved from the day to day consequences of an unclean heart.?
Acts 15:11 / Romans 5:15-17 / Ephesians 2:8-9/ Titus 3:5


There is nothing man can ever do in regards to their sin nature and resulting sins that will ever satisfy a holy God. Fortunately God loves us so much that He wants each and every one of us to be in fellowship with Himself. So, God our Father provided one way for every man or woman to receive forgiveness and a heart that is clean and right again. This one way needs no addition to it. We don't need to try to improve upon it. What is God's Solution?
John 14:6 / Romans 5:6 / 2 Corinthians 5:15 / Colossians 1:22 / Hebrews 2:9, 14-18 / Revelations 5:9

Wait a minute! You say, " I know these verses and have already accepted Jesus as my Savior for the forgiveness of my sins and the reward of eternal life." Is Jesus the same solution for my unclean heart? Yes! Most Christians take only part of the Salvation that Christ has come to give them. They are forgiven for their past, and they accept that eternal life is waiting for them in the future. But the troubles of TODAY is what is left for us to work out in our own strength. It leaves us frustrated and miserable. If this is your life then listen carefully. We take a clean heart by faith just the same way we took our salvation by faith. It has already been done for us and now we must walk in it.
John 15:3

Hannah Pearsall Smith in her classic book "The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life" writes….

"We received Him by faith, and by faith alone; therefore we are to walk in Him by faith and by faith alone. And the faith by which we enter into this hidden life is just the same as the faith by which we were translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son, only it lays hold of a different thing. Then we believed that Jesus was our Savior from the guilt of sin, and according to our faith it was unto us; now we must believe that He is our Savior from the power of sin, and according to our faith it shall be unto us. Then we trusted Him for forgiveness, and it became ours; now we must trust Him for righteousness, and it shall become ours also. Then we took Him as a Savior in the future from the penalties of our sins; now we must take Him as a Savior in the present from the bondage of our sins. Then He was our Redeemer; now He is to be our Life. Then He lifted us out of the pit; now He is to seat us in Heavenly places with Himself."

Christ's death and resurrection has dealt with our old sin nature and the penalties incurred by our sins. But another part of salvation often overlooked is that the Lord Jesus gave us His Holy Spirit to be with us forever. His Spirit was given to live right with us.
John 14: 16-17 / John 16:7

It is by a miracle of the Holy Spirit that our very nature is changed and a new heart given to us. He is the one that will show you anything preventing you from having a clean heart. He is the one who will lead you into all truth step by step as you need it. He is the one who will give you the faith to believe when you don't have it yourself. He is the one praying for you to win.
Jeremiah 24:7/ Jeremiah 31:33-34/ John 16:8,13 / Romans 8:26-27

Perhaps this analogy will help you grasp just how the Holy Spirit works this transformation in your life. (I must ask all bachelors who are not like what I will describe to please forgive me! ) Have you ever been to a bachelor's home? You notice that dishes are piled in the sink, his jacket lays in the chair where he threw it, and shoes clutter the entrance way. His bed is unmade, and in general there is no need to make the effort to tidy things because he is going to need them again. Now, this same bachelor meets a lovely lady and they decide to marry. When she moves into the home some changes begin to appear spontaneously. Because of the love they share and the desire to please each other some of the first things that begin to happen is a general cleanliness and order. She wants to make the house a home and he wants to make her happy and so without a word he hangs us his jacket, puts his shoes away and makes the bed each morning. Transformation is happening all because his wife moved into the house! So, when you became a Christian the Holy Spirit moved into your heart and is changing you from the inside out!
1 Corinthians 3:16/ 1 Corinthians 6:19/ 2 Timothy 1:14


Believe that God's solution works and then receive your clean heart by faith.
Mark 9:23/ Mark 11:24/ Romans 1:16-17

You and I must believe that what God says is true and know that it's true for us whether or not we see it right now. For example, it says in Ephesians 1:7 that in Christ I have redemption through His blood and the forgiveness of my sins. But, this morning when I got up I didn't feel forgiven or changed in any way. In fact, I felt downright awful!

Satan will always keep us living in the uncertainty of our emotions,"driven and tossed by the wind", unless we receive by faith all that God promises.
James 1:6-8

Faith is believing what God says is true and acting on it. Faith brings forth all that is Christ's in us. Faith is the hand by which we take hold of the spiritual things of God and make it our own.
John 6:28-29 / John 20:31 / James 2:14,17,18,22,26

We declare the truth whether we see it or not. If you have accepted by faith God's provision of a clean heart through Christ, then declare that truth boldly even when all your words and actions don't quite line up yet. When the heart is right, your words and actions eventually will be right as well.
Hebrews 11:1

If God's Word is true (John 17:17b says "Your Word is truth") then even circumstances that don't look like God is keeping His promises are false. For example: You receive a clean heart by faith but at work the next day you lose your temper with a colleague. Immediately, you are plunged into despair thinking that you'll never be any different. You then decide you must not have a clean heart. If this hasn't happened to you yet, it will, and you must be ready for it! Don't be one who "shrinks back" to old ways and thought patterns.
Hebrews 10: 38-39

Genuine faith believes in the Word of God exclusively and NOT our own experience, feeling or dark environment.
Matthew 21:21-22 / Hebrews 10:23

The world says we must "see" something first to believe in it. But God's way is just the opposite. He tells us what is true or what will take place and then we must believe what God says even though we can't see it yet.
Romans 4: 17b

"God ....calls things that are NOT as though they were." Abraham is a great example of this. God told Abraham that he would be the father of many nations.
Genesis 15:5

And right then, Abraham believed what God said would happen--that he would have descendants too numerous to count.
Genesis 15:6a / Romans 4:3a / Galatians 3:6a / James 2:23a

But notice the second half of all these same verses. They say "It was credited to him as righteousness." In other words, God saw that Abraham's heart was set on believing the promise despite not seeing any of it. This attitude pleased God. He made Abraham complete and in right standing with Himself without any effort by Abraham other than believing. In earth's reality nothing had changed for Abraham. But by Heaven's reality everything was already done.
Genesis 15:6b / Romans 4:3b / Galatians 3:6b / James 2:23b

It isn't easy to believe a promise of God when it looks totally impossible. What did Abraham face that seemed to negate God's promise?
Genesis 17:17 / Romans 4: 18-19

Likewise God has said to you: "You are already clean because of the Word I have spoken to you." (John 15:3) Yet, you look at your life and see that you aren't always acting like you have a clean heart!
Romans 7:21-23

We are in the same spot Abraham was in. He could either believe what God said was already true or he could believe what he was seeing with his eyes. That isn't easy when we live in a physical world. But, as believers, true reality is what is unseen. Abraham made the right choice.
Romans 4:20

What helped him to make this choice?
Romans 4:21

This example of Abraham has been given for our benefit today. We also have the same choice to make.
Romans 4:22-25

Are you fully persuaded that God is able to align your day to day thinking, words, and actions with the clean heart He has already given you and is living in?
Philippians 1:6


Notice that even before you begin to cooperate with God you must believe and receive your clean heart by faith. Otherwise you begin to think you have earned it by all your good behavior. Why do we now need to cooperate with God? Hannah Pearsall Smith again puts it very well.

"Besetting sins are to be conquered; evil habits are to be overcome; wrong dispositions and feelings are to be rooted out, and holy tempers and emotions are to be begotten." (Hannah Pearsall Smith- "The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life")

The first part of cooperating is called yielding or surrendering or full consecration. Think of yourself as a lump of clay about to be turned into a beautiful vase.

"The potter takes the clay thus abandoned to his working and begins to mold and fashion it according to his own will. He kneads and works it; he tears it apart and presses it together again; he wets it and then suffers it to dry. Sometimes he works at it for hours together; sometimes he lays it aside for days, and does not touch it."(Hannah Pearsall Smith- The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life)
Romans 12:1

Clay is His business and He knows just when you are ready for the final molding. The only work you do as the clay is to yield. You keep yourself under his hand and let Him have His way. It takes continual surrender and continual trust. It will not be easy but at every stage of your development God will be pleased even if you're not quite that beautiful vase yet. What should your prayer be during this time?
Psalm 51:10

Even if the process is hard what should you keep in mind?
2 Corinthians 4:16

While we cannot do the work ourselves we trust the Lord Jesus to do the work for us through His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit given to us after Christ left the earth, makes His home in every Christian's heart. By trusting Him with our life we are leaving it to a "professional". The Holy Spirit will undertake whatever work is needed, however long it takes, provided we do not grab it back and start fixing things ourselves. He does the work. He does all of it and He does all of it right!
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

The second part of cooperating is called trusting. If your car isn't running, you yield it up to your mechanic by bringing it into his shop. But, you actually trust your mechanic when you leave your car with him and walk away to go about your day. You leave the shop fully persuaded that he is going to fix everything. You don't think anymore about it. Many of us want to bring our car to the mechanic and then stay around to help him fix it. But he won't touch your car until you leave it with him 100%. So it is with your life. If God loved you so much as to give His only Son Jesus for you, then you can be sure He is trustworthy and will take good care of your life. You must leave your life with the Lord - 100% - and then walk into each day knowing you're in good hands. He is in the business of replacing dirty hearts!
Psalm 37:5/ Proverbs 3:5 / Isaiah 26:3-4 / Isaiah 50:10


Thank God that He loves us enough to want to work on our lives. He wants to make us like Christ. Thank God for what He is making of you right now even if you don't see any of it. Thank God for the changes you can see and thank God for the set backs (which may not be set backs at all!). Thank God for your clean heart. Thank God for everything that comes your way for it is all part of His will for you!
Colossians 1:12-14 / Colossians 2:6-7 / I Thessalonians 5:16-18


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