"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess." (Matthew 23:25)
Three of the eight "woe's" in Matthew 23 deal with a particular aspect of spiritual cleanliness. This one seems to emphasize personal cleanliness. The next verse amplifies the thought: "Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also" (Matthew 23:26).
The emphasis is on the internal heart. The biblical principle is very clear. If our hearts are not right, our lives will not be righteous. If what is "inside" is not clean, the "outside" will never be clean. Perhaps a list of the more obvious Bible references will help refocus our commitment.
• "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23).
• "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things" (Matthew 12:34-35).
• "Circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God" (Romans 2:29).
• "Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart" (2 Corinthians 3:3).
May our "cup and platter" be as clean as God's holiness is able to make it and "let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price" (1 Peter 3:4). HMM III