to make foul, dirty, unclean. To desecrate, profance, misuse.
In reading Matthew 7:1-24 today, I ended up focusing on the word defiling. The definitions above give breadth to the translators' choice to use this word to accurately render the words of Jesus. It is a perjorative...a negative, a forcefully sombre word. (So much for the view some have, of Jesus - rather pale-skinned, making a peace sign with his fingers...not quite!)
The issue of defiling emerges in the text over a dispute - does defiling happen when stuff enters us or is it the stuff from inside that emerges in thought and deed?
Pharisees: it is the stuff that enters us. Therefore here is your exhaustive list of what not to touch or taste. Hands under control mean you've got it made.
Jesus: it is the stuff that comes out of us that reveals the nature of what is deep inside of us, and defiles us.
Then Jesus goes on to enumerate some of the things that should sound an alarm when they show up on an honest personal appraisal of what is inside. These things defile...make us dirty and unclean. Hand washing won't do the job...it takes a heart transformation.
Here, then is Jesus' list. 13 things that quickly come to his mind as things internal that defile: "evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness."
Jesus is saying it all starts on the inside. It all has its way of emerging to dirty our lives and that of those around us. And that is where the spiritual surgery should begin.
I note that Jesus simply puts all these things in a list. Foolishness gets put with murder, sensuality with immorality, coveting with theft. So my battle with envy, if not won through Christ, defiles me and puts me on murder's row.
"Jesus, today we ask that you would give us depth honesty...and wash us clean from the inside out. Some of us have been saying, 'if this behavior doesn't emerge I am ok'...when you want to scrub us squeaky clean.
No ritual moves Lord...it is you that we need. Not endless self-control, but Spirit-controlled living. Not reformation, but transformation.
Your reputation is that you "make all things new."
Us too, Lord."