The Pure Word For Pure Living
In the first chapter of Titus we read these words in verses 14 through 16: "Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate."
The usual interpretation of this segment of Scripture is that Paul is taking issue with the legalistic dispute that had arisen among some regarding the eating of meats. There were those who professed to be saints who insisted that the laws of Moses regarding "clean" and "unclean" meats were to be abided by even now under the Age of Grace. Paul comes down hard on these troublemakers, referring to them as "vain talkers" and "deceivers" in verse 10.
Paul clearly excludes this group of legalizers from membership in the family of God by his stern rebuke of them in verse 16: "They profess that they know God; but in works they deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate." This is the rendering of these words as given in the Amplified New Testament: "They profess to know God--to recognize, perceive and be acquainted with Him--but deny and disown and renounce Him by what they do; they are detestable and loathsome, unbelieving and disobedient and disloyal and rebellious, and [they are] unfit and worthless for good work (deed or enterprise) of any kind."
We cannot include works in salvation. To do so is to change the Gospel into a "works" gospel which does not save. If a person believes he is being saved because in some way he is contributing his own personal works to his salvation, that person is lost.
What Paul is telling Titus in this letter is that those under grace are no longer subject to the old restrictions on the eating of meats and that "to the pure all things are pure." Whether you eat meat or don’t eat meat makes no difference. He is telling them that they are not to give heed to old "Jewish fables," that is, myths or folk tales regarding the eating of food.
Do you know what a fable is? Here is a definition of a fable: "A story not founded on fact; an untruth; falsehood; to speak falsely, to lie." A synonym for the word fable is fabrication.
The practice of fabricating truth was not uncommon amongst men in or around the first century Church. In one of his sermons D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says: "In those first years there were men drawing on their imagination, and, perhaps inspired by the devil himself, they were spreading stories about the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and were making havoc in the life of the early Church." (From Life in Christ, Volume IV, page 123.)
But, says Paul, all food is clean and any restrictions on eating are nothing but make-believe. They are no better or no more meaningful than so many fables. They are fabrications. To the pure in heart--to those who stand before God openly and with a clear conscience, to them there is no such thing as "impure" with regard to food. Clearly, "the pure in Christ" are not in bondage to the outdated laws of Moses regarding food. Certain unbelievers of Titus’ and Paul’s day, strangers to the grace of God, were insisting these laws had to be adhered to in order to be saved.
There is a danger that we need to be aware of at this point. "The pure" in this verse are not saying, "We don’t care about those old laws of Moses about eating. In fact, we don’t even care whether they’re still in effect or not. The reason we don’t care is because we know we can sin indiscriminately. We can do whatever we want to and be pure. It doesn’t matter whether or not we are sinning, whether it be with regard to some laws about eating or whatever. To us, no matter what we do, it’s pure."
No! That is not to be read into verse 15.
The individuals being referred to in verse 15, "the pure," are not saints who pursue sin in order to prove that because of being perfect in Christ, pure in Him, it doesn’t matter how they live. "The pure" are not claiming that they can sin indiscriminately because they are "pure" and therefore everything they do is pure. That is not so! The danger of reading that into the verse does exist.
Paul came down hard on that ungodly philosophy in his day. In Romans 6:1 he said, "...Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" I can almost hear him shouting in verse 2, "God forbid!" "By no means!"
Unto the Pure All Things Are Pure
Return to Titus 1:15: "Unto the pure all things are pure." I see in these precious words a deep and profound truth for the believer.
Rather than giving license to sin, what this glorious declaration by the Holy Spirit is saying to us is that even when "the pure" are confronted by evil by eye-gate or ear-gate, that is, that righteous man, "the pure," walking in close intimacy with his God, the man who revels and rejoices in holiness and righteousness, the man who hungers and thirsts for holiness and purity--that man, when he sees or hears evil in this wicked and perverse world is drawn by that very evil TO his God.
Evil that confronts the spiritual man does not attract that man to that evil but gloriously acts as an agent to draw him more closely to his God. This is another of the many blessed paradoxes of God’s Holy Word. Evil does not attract the godly person. It repulses him. The Psalmist said, "I hate every false way" (Psalm 119:128).
Evil witnessed by the godly saint makes his perfectly righteous Savior all the more attractive to him. The evil that "the pure" unavoidably witnesses all about him increases his hunger for more purity in his own life. "I will run the way of Thy commandments when Thou shalt enlarge my heart" (Psalm 119:32).
He presses even closer to his Savior’s breast and cries out, "Thank You, my blessed, pure Savior, for Thy holiness and Thy righteousness that protects me from this vile world about me! Truly Thou art my shelter in the storms of evil that surround me!" His heart’s desire is to please his God and even the very thought of being a part of the evil that surrounds him grieves his own heart because he knows how displeasing that would be to his Lord.
In 1 Chronicles 4:10 Jabez cried out to his God, "O, that Thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!"
The net result is "all things," including evil, are translated for the holy man, "the pure," into purity for that man. "Unto the pure all things are pure." How glorious! "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God..." (Romans 8:28).
Look at the great contrast between "the pure" and the "unbelieving," unregenerate man. Verse 15 says, "But unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled."
The Pure Word of God
How accurate is the pure Word of God! "The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times" (Psalm 12:6). The Word itself is pure. That is why what it says is always true and accurate and timely and applicable and appropriate.
God’s Word is the Word of the supernatural Creator of all things. If we really believed with all of our might, with all of our being, with all of our strength, that the Bible is the Word of the Almighty God, this world would be turned upside down. We don’t really believe this blessed Book, the Bible, God’s Word, has the power to change us and to change the world. We need to make much of the Word.
I love the way A. W. Tozer expresses himself on this point: "The Holy Ghost wrote the Word, and if you make much of the Word, He will make much of you. It is through the Word that He reveals Himself. Between those covers is a living Book. God wrote it and it is still vital and effective and alive. God is in the Book, the Holy Ghost is in the Book, and if you want to find Him, go into this Book.
"Let the old saints be our example. They came to the Word of God and meditated. They laid the Bible on the old-fashioned, handmade chair, got down on the old, scrubbed, board floor and meditated on the Word. As they waited, faith mounted. The Spirit and faith illuminated. They had only a Bible with fine print, narrow margins and poor paper, but they knew their Bible better than some of us do with all our helps.
"Let’s practice the art of Bible meditation. But please don’t grab that phrase and go out and form a club--we are organized to death already. Just meditate. Let us be plain thoughtful Christians. Let us open our Bibles, spread them out on a chair, and meditate on the Word of God. It will open itself to us, and the Spirit of God will come and brood over it.
"I do challenge you to meditate, quietly, reverently, prayerfully, for a month. Put away questions and answers and the filling in of blank lines in the portions you haven’t been able to understand. Put all the cheap trash away and take the Bible, get on your knees, and in faith, say, ‘Father, here I am. Begin to teach me!’" (From The Tozer Pulpit, Volume I, Book 2, Page 117. Copyright. Used by permission of Christian Publications, Inc.),
To "the pure" the Word of God is everything. To the holy man or woman, living outside this Book is inconceivable. Take the Book from the man of God and he agonizes. He longs for it. "My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto Thy judgments at all times" (Psalm 119:20).
He needs it more than food for his physical body. "I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food" (Job 23:12b). It is that very Word that keeps "the pure," pure. "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you" (John 15:3). It is the meditation in that blessed Word, as Brother Tozer said, that teaches the God-pleaser about the God that he wants to please.
Contrariwise, to the "unbelieving" and the "defiled" nothing is pure. That one who took the good laws of the Old Testament that were just as much a part of the Word of God as ever but were simply not applicable with the advent of Christ--that "defiled" one who took those old restrictions of the Old Testament regarding "clean" and "unclean" food and wove them into "Jewish fables" and "traditions" as something that was to be obeyed now--that one, that "defiled" one, took the pure Word of God and made it impure. He had changed God’s Word into the "commandments of men," verse 14.
We can say that although it is true that "Unto the pure all things are pure," the converse is also true, that is, "to the defiled all things are defiled." To the impure all things are impure--EVEN THE PURE WORD OF GOD! Verse 15, "...unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure."
The Wonder of Purity
What a miraculous, wonderful God we have! How glorious that we are, because of our blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, one of "the pure." How glorious that we possess that God-given desire after holiness and righteousness and purity before God!
Do you realize, Saint, that is one sure evidence that you are truly born again? Unsaved people never have a desire to be holy before a holy God. They may want to be moral and honest and fair and kind and polite and "nice," but the desire to please God does not concern them. That is not their purpose in life.
What joy to know that we shall have all eternity to glorify and to praise our God for Himself and for what He has done for us and to us and in us!
– J. N. J.