Jesus teaches us that there is something far more fundamental to our sinfulness than the actual sins we commit. Our sins do not make us sinful. Rather, we commit sins because, at the very center of our lives, we are sinful. Sin has invaded the inner recesses of our personalities. This is essential information for spiritual health because it keeps us from misdiagnosing our real problem.
The first and most important step in seeking a cure is an accurate diagnosis of the problem. Symptoms must be carefully interpreted so that underlying causes are not overlooked. Several years ago our nine-year-old daugter developed a severe pain in her elbow after a nasty fall. After probing that area of her arm and reviewing x-rays, the physician who examined her concluded that she had simply suffered a bad sprain. A week later, with the pain still lingering, a second doctor examined her. He reviewed her case for several minutes and then began probing Sarah’s wrist where he quickly discovered a previously undetected sore spot. Another x-ray revealed that he had, literally, put his finger on the real source of her problem. The painful elbow was a symptom. A fractured growth plate in the wrist was the cause. Once the proper diagnosis was made, the proper treatment could be administered and further complications were avoided.
If you do not understand the problem, you will not seek the right cure. That is true not only medically but also spiritually.
In Matthew 15 Jesus teaches a vital lesson in spiritual diagnosis. What He says is fundamental to living the Christian life. He exposes the superficiality of Pharisaical religion by putting His finger on the source of all our sinful behaviors.