Matthew 15:1-20

Talks for Growing Christians

The Lord Condemned the Pharisees for Their Moral Defilement

Matthew 15:1-20

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Lesson Number 39

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. The Lord condemned the Pharisees for their evil practice of Corban.
  2. The Lord condemned the Pharisees for the evil that proceeded out of their hearts.

Practical Application

  1. Sometimes we should offend certain people.


  1. Did the Law require the Jews to go through ritualistic washings before they ate a meal?
  2. What is the difference between the Jewish Torah and Talmud?
  3. What is Corban?
  4. In Matthew 15:11, is the Lord proposing we should eat without washing our hands?
  5. Give examples of things which proceed out of the mouth, come from the heart, and defile a man. (Matthew 15:18)


  1. No, over the years the Jews had added to the Law until their requirements of elaborate ritualistic washing before meals became part of the “tradition of the elders.”
  2. The Torah is the Law, scripture given by God. The Talmud is not part of the Bible; it is the Jewish ceremonial laws that were added by tradition.
  3. Corban means “given to God.” The Pharisees would declare all their material possessions “Corban” (see Mark 7:11-12). In of itself, Corban was not wrong, but the self-righteous Pharisees used this as an excuse not to care for their aging parents.
  4. No, He has turned the discussion from ritual defilement to moral defilement. See Matthew 15:17-18.
  5. evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies, gossip, slander, lying…


  1. The Scribes and Pharisees were using the biblical concept of Corban an as excuse to avoid their God-given responsibility to “Honor your Father and Mother,” and care for them as they age. As Christians it is possible for us to act as if we are obeying God’s law, when in reality we are using this as an excuse to disobey Him. Discuss some examples of this.
  2. It is a common pitfall for Christians to appear as if they are obeying the Lord, when they have a thought life that is morally corrupt. This lack of integrity will develop modern-day Pharisees. They will be selfish, proud, self-righteous, unforgiving, fault-finding, and hypocritical – when actually they are blind. Check yourself to see if you are walking with integrity. Does your life appear righteous to others, while inwardly your thought life is corrupt? Discuss ways to guard against living inconsistently.


  1. The Pharisees were offended by what Jesus said in Matthew 15. We make an effort not to offend people when we are sharing the Gospel with them. But sometimes we should offend certain people. Consider people who teach false doctrine or promote moral defilement; we should not avoid confronting these people lest we offend them! Sometimes we should offend certain people.

Key Verses

  • “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?” Matthew 15:3
  • “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.” Matthew 15:18

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