“Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but their mind and conscience is defiled” (Titus 1:15).
Paul was warning Titus of the problem of being defiled in mind and unbelieving. Titus would meet such people and would have to deal with them while at the same time speaking those things “which become sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). Satan knows what saves man (cf. Luke 8:12) and will do all that he can to keep the pure word of God out of the minds and lives of people. The pure heart is able to see a thing clearly while the opposite is filled with confusion. Consider three things that Paul tells Titus about the effects of believing error.
- The Thought Processes Are Corrupted. Paul addressed the “mind” (Titus 1:15) being defiled. The Greek word here translated “mind” (Titus 1:15) is the word meaning “the intellective faculty, the understanding, reason, the faculty of perceiving divine things, of recognizing goodness and of hating evil” (Thayer, p. 429). The context has to do with people giving heed to fables and the commandments of men “that turn from the truth” (Titus 1:14). These struggle with loving truth (cf. 2 Thess. 2:10) and thus desire to have something besides the word of God that is pure (cf. Prov. 30:5). These become enamored with novelties. Some of the most bazaar beliefs have been fostered by pride and self-seeking ambition. Error becomes truth to this type of thinking. This explains how people reason correctly with earthly things and faulty with spiritual things.
- The Trained Conscience is Compromised. The faculty of proper discernment in judgment between right and wrong, truth and error is now compromised with such defilement. Paul addresses the “conscience” (Titus 1:15) as well as the mind being defiled. Once a person believes that error is now truth to them, the conscience is newly trained to defend the new positions. Paul warned Timothy that such would happen. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:1-2). What might at the first have been a struggle to believe now becomes very easy to accept. Self-deception is the greatest danger of all deceptions.
- The Tasks of Life Differ from the Claim to Know God. Paul wrote, “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:16). Claims are not backed up with proper conduct. The topic of grace is turned to license (cf. Jude 4). Love is given to those who agree with these while strong protest is given to those who would seek to reprove. Adultery, homosexuality, social drinking, etc. are either avoided in discussions or, if not avoided, tolerated and even acceptable in certain circles. The doctrine of “once saved, always saved” becomes a comforting way of preaching difficult funerals. Worship as man wills instead of worship “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24) becomes the model for “growing churches.” The “I’m ok, you're ok” mentality in preaching and teaching appeals to the itching ears. Isaiah himself dealt with the corrupting influence of believing error (cf. Isa. 5:20-21).