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Friday, March 13, 2020

What does To the pure, all things are pure mean?

“To the pure, all things are pure.”


Titus 1:13-16 reads:

This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.


The following analysis of this Scripture is part of a study entitled All Things Are Pure. Source: “All things are pure,” as expressed by Paul to Titus, is meant as the antidote to those trying to enforce Jewish dietary laws – that some foods were pure but others defiled you. Those words have nothing to do with the interpretation that suggests a Christian can look at what most people concede are immoral images, yet still regard them as something pure. Here’s the study:


The verses surrounding Titus 1:15 refer to the false teachers on Crete who taught that you became defiled if you ate certain foods or if you ate when you were ceremonially unclean. These false teachers were "those of the circumcision" (v16), that is, the unbelieving Judaizers of the first century. These false teachers included certain ascetic rules about eating and drinking in their "commandments" (v14). They advocated the Old Testament dietary laws and the additions and traditions of the Judaizers as a means of becoming spiritual and holy. Their sole emphasis was on external rule-keeping for purity, with no recognition of the absolute need for an internal change of heart. They totally disregarded the words of Christ who said, "Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man unclean; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him unclean" (Matthew 15:17-20). In the parallel passage in Mark 7:19 we read that Jesus "declared all foods clean." The Lord Jesus also told the Pharisees that when there was evidence of an internal change of heart, "then all things are clean for you" (Luke 11:41).


The "pure," then, are all who believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, who have had an internal change of heart through the work of God at conversion. All Christians are essentially "pure" because we are all partakers of divine life. (See 1 Peter 1:4.) Although we still have our sinful human natures, the new spiritual life we possess is "pure." Because of our new life in Christ, the Old Testament dietary laws about certain "unclean" foods do not apply to us today. These ceremonial regulations were all set aside with the coming of Christ. Obviously any man-made ascetic rules about foods or any stipulations about ritualistic washings connected with eating have nothing to do with the Christian life. Christians are free to eat beef or pork or fish or any food on any day of the week with washed or unwashed hands because "all things are pure." It goes without saying that we want to be careful about what we eat and how we eat for reasons of health and hygiene and even Christian liberty. But there is no food or drink that is impure in itself for the Christian. "For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the Word of God and prayer" (1 Timothy 4:4-5).


The second half of Titus 1:15 and verse 16 deal with the unbeliever. "To those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed." The unbelievers are called "defiled" because they have not had the internal change of heart that comes at the time of conversion. They are not pure because they are not "new creatures in Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:17). Thus "both their mind and their conscience are defiled" from God's perspective because they are not "born anew" (John 3:3). To these unbelievers, "nothing is pure."


The observance of ascetic rules and ritualistic ceremonies won't help a bit to purify an unbeliever. Their problem is not external but internal. Until the internal change takes place at conversion, the unbeliever cannot please God. Rule-keeping and ritualistic ceremonies do not make points with God. In fact, verse 16 indicates that the deeds of unbelievers prove that they do not know God. If they really knew the Lord they would stop their slander of God--teaching that following rules and rituals can make you holy and acceptable with God. To take such a position, then and now, is to be "detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed." (v16). To the humanistic way of looking at life, such a view is incredibly narrow and bigoted. However, it is not what we think but what the Word of God says that ultimately makes the difference!


In summary, we have come to understand that "to the pure, all things are pure" was written in the context of eating certain foods, not watching certain videos or reading certain magazines! Titus 1:15 does not mean that trash is somehow upgraded when handled by Christians or that Christians somehow become immune to the effects of the junk they read or view. While the expression, "garbage in, garbage out" is not a verse in the Bible, it is certainly true of the human mind as well as computers.                                                                                                                        ¾


The following Scriptures offer similar thoughts:

Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. Hebrews 13:9


See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.16Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. 20If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22(referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. Colossians 2:8-23

When you are in Christ, holding fast to Christ, you understand that Jesus had declared all foods clean, ! Mark 7:19, while it is the pure in heart who will see God. Matthew 5:8. Of course, we must always be mindful of the scruples of our brethren. Romans 14.


See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 1 John 3:1-3


David Carr


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