Pharisees prioritize outards over innards. They fret more over an external behavioral scab than an internal existential cancer. They have ornate solid silver water bottles without a speck of tarnish on them that they have polished to a mirror shine, yet the inside is a cesspool. They only care to be seen drinking from such a bottle. They are a book wishing to be judged only by the cover.
The point isn’t about their cups and plates, if it were they would only redouble their efforts and scour all the more. The point is that they are the bottle.
The heart is the fount. All of our behavior flows out of it. You can’t purify a fountain by going down stream and laboring endlessly at gathering buckets of water, purifying them, and then dumping them back in the stream. This is what all attempts at moralism, behavioralism, and self-salvation are. If you try to cap off the flow of wickedness in one area of your life be assured pressure will build and the pipe will burst elsewhere, or more likely, in the same already compromised spot, causing greater damage. The hearts gotta flow. If it is pumping life is coming out. If you try to pump good into it, you only increase the pressure and that inflow is still filtered through your poisonous heart and thus contaminated. All self-righteousness is like trying to clean an already dirty house with a vacuum filled to the brim with refuse that has a gaping hole in the bag. All our work only adds to the mess.
And yet, our only hope for our innards is on the outside, but further out that the surface of your skin. Our hope is all the way up in the highest heaven, and yet is in flesh; Heaven enfleshed. Our salvation is achieved by someone behaving perfectly—for us—from a pure heart. There is a purifying Fount. There is a stream, that when it flows into your heart, purifies. The Outside comes in, and purifies from the inside out.