Purity

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. (Titus 1:15, ESV)

Have you ever been accused of impurity? You probably have, because the word is used (one way or another) for everything from not holding to “orthodox” church doctrine to being “insensitive.” The people condemning you for impurity don’t usually use the exact term, but the meaning is the same. Somehow, in their estimation, you are impure because you do not meet their standard of purity. Some of the accusers use a verse or two from the Bible; rarely have I found that they use the Bible according to the Bible.

The verse above is interesting, because like the accusations it is generally taken out of context. Let’s read it again with some context, shall we?

This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. 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. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. (Titus 1:13–16, ESV)

Now we get a little better idea of the purity issue. Paul is contrasting those who “profess to know God,” who “devote themselves to Jewish myths,” but who are “defiled and unbelieving” with the people who are “sound in the faith” and “pure.” Interesting, isn’t it? He’s saying that there’s a big difference between the wannabe’s who “claim to know God” but “deny him by their works” and those who are pure (presumably the ones who do not deny God with their works).

So many times the pure are hammered by the apparently pure using a personal standard instead of the Word. We are encouraged to cease attending a church, or cut off from family relationships or from “friends” simply because we acknowledge God with our works. We are not conformed to this world, being transformed by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2) so our purity comes from His standard rather than the world’s. And our biggest enemies are not the unbelievers, but the apparent believers denying Him with their works.

With the other labels already mentioned, we also get tagged as “divisive.” But again, the Word gives us the context for the truly divisive. They are those who divide people away from the Word of God. Paul continues with his counsel to Titus, describing the aforementioned impure wannabe’s as the real dividers.

As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (Titus 3:10–11, ESV)

Purity comes from the Word of God dwelling in our heart. His Word trains us in right behavior and attitudes, softens our hearts, and fills us with the Spirit. The works of those who claim His name are evident when they condemn us for taking a stand on the Word. “All things are pure” not in and of themselves, but in our reactions to them. We don’t divide, we unite on God’s instructions, statutes, rules and ways. All things are pure because our minds and consciences are not defiled with actions not in keeping with His Word.

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4–7, ESV)

So when the divisive people, wrapped in robes of self-righteousness, tell you that you are not pure (in whatever verbiage they choose) for standing on His Word, remember it is by testing that we discern the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Shalom,
Bruce.

Works of Law

Chapter 6 – Whole Bible Objections, ‘Whole Bible Christianity’

Still another excuse some use to ignore the Law is the claim that “works of the Law” are bad. A section of this group even goes so far as to say actions done without “feeling like we are led by the Spirit” are “works of the Law.” They discourage any activity if it isn’t “felt” – the church version of “if it feels good, do it.” If they do something, such as work in a soup kitchen, without “feeling” it, then it must be a “work of the flesh” or by association one of those terrible “works of the Law.” So they avoid doing what God plainly commands because they don’t “feel led.” Feelings become king, and simple obedience to the whole of the Word is reduced to a sin.

On the surface it does look like parts of the Bible teach that works of the Law are not “from the Spirit,” that they don’t belong in a believer’s walk, and should be avoided. The NASB (and others) translates words from Paul in Romans 3, Galatians 2 and Galatians 3 as ‘works of the Law’ (capital L and with the added definite article ‘the’). Paul is made to look very negative about “works of the Law” at first glance.

Yet the translation is not correct according to the Greek. It also doesn’t stand up to a balanced scrutiny from the whole of the Word. The word ‘Law’ in those references should be lowercase and without the article, as in, ‘works of law.’ ‘Works of the Law’ is an attempt to limit works to the Mosaic Law. It castes obedience as wrong. The more accurate statement, ‘works of law,’ includes any legal relationship, any ‘work of the flesh,’ or any try at trading merit for grace. It includes the Law but isn’t limited to The Law. ‘Works of law’ isn’t the same as the anti-Law statement ‘works of the Law.’

‘Works of law’ describes a legal relationship. A legal relationship is where I do things that I get paid for, and I only do them if I get paid. This was the basis of the Satan’s accusation against Job. He said that Job only worshiped God because he got paid (Job 1:9-11). He thought that if God took away the pay or the “hedge” (God’s protection) that Job would falter.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego weren’t interested in pay for following God’s Word (Daniel 3). They were threatened with death by furnace, but even if God wouldn’t ‘pay off’ with a rescue they were still going to stick with Him.
17 “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 “But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”(Daniel 3:17-18 NASB95)