Today's encouragement comes from Mark 7:15, where the Lord Jesus said this:
"There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man."
These words lay out a basic criterion between the true religion and all false religion. False religion is always concerned about externals, first and fore-most, and exclusively. The true religion is concerned about the wicked nature of the heart, and how this issue must be resolved before a Holy God.
False religion is very easy to practice: do a few things, and one can pretend to be in God's good standing. True religion requires sorrow for heart sins, re-pentance, and sincere and saving faith in Jesus Christ, the only Redeemer of God's elect.
[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a true rule in divinity that the desire for any grace is the grace itself; for to desire to believe is faith, and true desire to re-pent is repentance, and true desire to mourn for sin is mourning for sin.”
—Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]