Believers Minds are Defiled by Promoters of “the Law”
Paul reveals how that the church was in ‘apostasy,’ fallen away from the truth of the grace gospel, even in his day. So, Paul in his letter to Titus, he here warns the young man about such false teachers, saying;
“10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision [Jewish law-keepers]:
11 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s [for money’s] sake. …
13 …. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; 14Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
15 Unto the pure [grace believers] all things are pure: but unto them that are Defiled and Unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is Defiled.
16 They [the unbelieving vain talkers] profess that they know God; but in works [in what they teach] they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work [they are] reprobate.” (Titus 1:10-16 (KJV)
We will now look at the many terms that Paul uses here above to describe the ‘opposers’ of Paul’s Grace Gospel for today, under which we “are not under the Law, but under [pure. 100%] grace” (Romans 6:14).
Religious “deceivers” (v11) have always been common, even back in Paul’s day. That’s what prompted the Apostle Paul to warn Titus of the major hindrance for grace believers.
Since these “vain talkers” (v10) were “specially of the circumcision [the Jews],” they were most likely deceiving people with “the Law of Moses” as Paul saw was the problem at Galatia. Paul called this “vain jangling [empty useless talk]” (I Tim. 1:6-7).
Our Apostle Paul says that “ye [the grace believers] are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:14). So “the Law” should never be taught as something that is binding on God’s people during the present age of “the dispensation of the grace of God.” That’s why Paul calls men who promote to the law “deceivers,” for they are misleading God’s people about the truth for the present “dispensation of the grace of God”
Before you decide to look down your nose on ‘those Jews’ for promoting “the Law,” did you notice that Paul says that those ‘vain talkers’ were “specially of the circumcision”? This means that the deceivers in Paul’s day were not all “of the circumcision [Jews].” There were deceived Gentiles who were deceiving people by promoting “the Law” as well as Jews.
If you’re wondering why Gentiles would teach a law that God gave the Jews for a past dispensation, it is because Satan always makes sure that undispensational things are popular. And things that are popular are also usually very ‘lucrative’ or rewarding to the perpetrators. So, it is no surprise that Paul went on to say that these deceivers were “teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s [for money’s] sake.” (Titus 1:11). Even today, if you’re a deceitful Gentile preacher who wants to gain a large following and build a big ministry and church that can afford to pay you a handsome salary, the teaching of elements of “the Law of Moses” is definitely the way to go!
Now, if you are thinking that teaching the law in the dispensation of grace isn’t that serious thing, then you are not thinking like Paul!
Speaking of those “deceivers,” Paul wrote, “Whose mouths must be stopped”! Yes, the “Law of Moses” is in the Bible, but it is not in Paul’s epistles, which is the only part of the Bible specifically written to and about people living today during “the dispensation of the grace of God.” Thus it has been well said that … Satan doesn’t care if you are Biblical in your teaching, so long as you are not ‘Dispensationally Biblical,’ righty dividing what applies to Israel from that which applies to the members of His church, “the body of Christ.”
From the context of our text above, we also know that these defiled-minded preachers and teachers were the “vain talkers... of the circumcision [Israel]” (Titus 1:10) who were “teaching things which they ought not” (v. 11). I think Paul called them “defiled” because these unsaved Jews were trying to teach the grace believers in Crete’s churches that they would be defiled if they ‘ate meats’ prohibited by “the law of Moses,” for that’s what ‘the law’ said of such people (Lev. 11:43). Crete is a Greek island and I would expect they had always eaten all sorts of unclean shellfish from the waters of the island.
Note that the text does not say that about those of us today who are “not under the law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:15 cf. I Tim. 4:1-5). Paul had just finished saying of us, the grace believers of “the mystery [the formerly secret]” “gospel of the grace of God,” … “unto the pure all things are pure” (Col. 1:15), speaking of the foods we as grace believers eat (cf. Rom. 14:20).
So, Paul turned the tables on those defilement-minded Judaizing ‘false teachers of Law,’ and said that it was “their mind” that was actually “defiled” for thinking that way, not the people who ate those foods!
When Paul said that these defilement-minded teachers were “abominable,” he is again turning the tables on those legalizers. You see, “abominable” is another word the law used of those who ate ‘unclean meats’ (Lev. 11:41-43). So, in calling the legalizers “abominable,” Paul is assuring the grace believers in Crete’s churches that they were not abominable, but their accusers were the abominable ones.
In calling these false teachers “disobedient,” I believe Paul was again responding to the charges that these defilement-minded law-teachers were levying against the saints. When the grace believers in Crete’s churches insisted that they could eat meats that were ‘banned by the law,’ they were probably accused of having cast the law behind their backs. That’s the very definition of the word “disobedient” under the law (cf. Neh. 9:26).
Of course, as students of “the word of truth” we know grace believers are “not under the Law but under grace” (Rom. 6:14). So, in Paul’s rushing to the defense of the Cretian believers, he points out that the Law teachers were the ‘apostate ones’ who were really “disobedient,” as were all unsaved Jews (Rom. 10:21) who had not “obeyed the gospel [of grace]” that is for all men including those of Israel (Rom. 10:16) during this age of “the grace of God.”
Finally, Paul calls these legalizers “reprobate” (Titus 1:16). The word “reprobate” is what the dictionary defines as ‘abandoned,’ and that is how the word is used in Scripture as well. In speaking of the lost Gentiles who lived before Abraham, God said that He had to give them up and give them over to “a reprobate mind” (Rom. 1:24, 26, 28). That’s pretty much the definition of abandonment, and that’s why Paul also called those ancient Gentiles “reprobate.”
But here in Titus, the unsaved Jews in Paul’s day had become just as ‘reprobate’! When Paul says that they were reprobate “unto every good work,” that meant they were totally incapable of doing anything that pleased God. No wonder the apostle Paul, in speaking of both Jews and Gentiles, wrote:
“For God hath concluded them ALL [both the unsaved Jews and unsaved Gentiles] in unbelief, [so] that he might have mercy upon ALL.” (Romans 11:32 (KJV)
Today, during “the dispensation of the grace of God,” unsaved Jews are just as defiled in ‘mind and conscience’ (v15) as unsaved Gentiles, but God is willing to have mercy on them ALL, now without regard to their racial distinction at all.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek [Gk. ethnos, Gentile), there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are ALL one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28 (KJV)
All the Lord asks is that we “believe” the only reason we can be worthy of Heaven is that Christ died shedding His blood, to pay for our sins on the Cross of Calvary and He rose again.
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (KJV)
- Portions adapted from Ricky Kurth of the