Makestraightpaths.com examines the teachings of the religious
group variously known as “the Family,” “The Family International,” the “Children
of God,” or the “Family of Love,” and evaluates these teachings from a Christian
This page is one of a
series examining the concept of 'sin' within the Family.
Unto the Pure All
Things are Pure (Titus 1:15)
Titus 1:15 To the pure all things are pure, but to those
who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and
conscience are defiled. NKJV
have been taught that this verse justifies almost any action, as long as
that action is done in faith and love. “All things”, goes the teaching,
literally means “everything and anything”. Specifically, Family members
were taught that this verse justifies the sexual practices of the
Family, because after all, “all things are pure”, and surely this means
that sex in itself is also ‘pure’. Therefore, Family members could
legitimately engage in extra-marital sex as long as they do it with a
Is that the
meaning of ‘to the pure all things are pure’? If not, what does it mean?
Overview of Titus
The book of Titus
was written by Paul at about the same time as he wrote 1 Timothy (about
AD 62-63), and there are a number of similarities between the two books.
Although the recipients were in different places (Titus was in Crete;
Timothy was in Ephesus), they faced similar problems and much of the
advice Paul gives is similar.
The emphasis of
the book of Titus is on doing good as a proper result of the grace of
God, in contrast to the false teachers, who taught that observing
religious regulations secured God’s favour. (Fee).
Titus is “one of three pastoral epistles among Paul’s
writings, the others being 1 and 2 Timothy. The Pastoral Epistles are so
named because they deal with matters concerning pastors and
congregations. They are the only letters of Paul addressed to
individuals. The purpose of the epistle to Titus was to warn against
false teaching and to provide guidance for one of Paul’s younger
associates on sound doctrine and good works.
“The occasion for the letter was clear enough − to warn
against false teachers (1:10-16). The precise nature of the teaching was
less clear, although it included ‘Jewish fables,’ legalism, and disputes
over genealogies (1:10,14; 3:9-10). Paul urged Titus to avoid such
traps, for anyone associated with them would get caught in his own
schemes (3:11)” (Nelson).
The phrase “unto
the pure all things are pure” is in the middle of a section where Paul
talks specifically about the false teachers who had been causing havoc
on Crete (Titus 1:10-16).
The false teachers must be silenced because they play
right into the hands of a proverbial understanding of Cretans. Believers
who would be tempted to follow them must be rebuked (Fee).
10 For there are many
rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the
circumcision, 11 who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole
families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid
gain. 12 One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are
always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true.
For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the
faith, 14 not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men
who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure; but
to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both
their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know
God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient
and worthless for any good deed.
The reason for
the harsh reaction to the false teachers was so that the Christians in
Crete may become “sound in the faith” (vs. 13).
It is important
to realise that in this paragraph, Paul is not discussing the inherent
purity of all things, or the importance of Christians having a pure
heart, or which actions are or are not permitted in Christianity, but he
is exhorting the bishop of a church to rid himself of false teachers.
The phrase “to the pure all things are pure” is only used as a way of
describing those false teachers, by contrasting them with an opposite
quality. The false teachers are “defiled”, “men who turn away from the
truth”, “unbelieving”, and all that they do or say or even think about
is also “defiled”. This is set in contrast with “the pure” whose actions
and thoughts are pure.
The recipients of
the epistle got the message loud and clear. Anyone who read it or heard
it read would have had no confusion about the purpose of this passage:
false teachers must be silenced. This passage does not put forth a
teaching on what is or is not “pure”.
Paul said that “to the pure all things are pure”, we should attempt to
understand what he meant.
From the dictionary
The word pure
means clean, cleansed.
(free from the admixture or adhesion
of anything that soils, adulterates, corrupts);
in a Levitical sense; clean, i.e. the
use of which is not forbidden, imparts no uncleanness: Rom 14:20; Titus
ethically; free from corrupt desire,
from sin and guilt: Titus 1:15;
free from impure admixture, without
as being cleansed, e.g., Matt 5:8; 1
Tim 1:5; 3:9; 2 Tim 1:3; 2:22; Titus 1:15; Heb 10:22; James 1:27; 1
Peter 1:22; Rev 15:6; 21:18; 22:1 (in some mss.).
Who are “the pure”?
The pure are
those who have been cleansed from sin by the blood of Jesus Christ, and
who “pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace”:
2 Tim 2:22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue
righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord
from a pure heart. NASU
The pure have
been washed clean and strive to remain clean:
Heb 10:22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full
assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil
conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. NASU
therefore, does not refer to people who have good motives or who have
“the faith” for their actions or to people who sincerely obey their
elders in the Lord. The pure are those people who have had their sins
washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ. They are eager to do good so
practically everything that they do is good.
Here then is what
“to the pure all things are pure” means: when people have been washed
clean from their sin, they become so eager to do good that good works
naturally proceed from them at all times. However when sinners are
unregenerate, spiritually unwashed, then nothing they do can be good;
they are “worthless for any good deed” (Titus 1:16). Those that are pure
do pure things; they think pure thoughts because they have been washed
clean. They see God’s purity in everything and they act accordingly. By
contrast, it is easy to tell those who are impure because they are
disobedient to God and His moral laws and consequently they defile all
that they touch.
Titus 1:15 says
absolutely nothing about every action being legitimate for Christians.
It does not say that a Christian may take part in any action and remain
‘pure’ in the sight of God. It certainly does not mean that Christians
may engage in sexual activity or that they can do anything they want as
long as they are ‘pure’. This is not the message of Titus 1:15, of the
book of Titus, or indeed of the Bible at all.
Sin: a Definition
Whatever is not of Faith is Sin
Fee: How to Read the Bible Book by
Book, Gordon D Fee & Douglas Stuart, 2002, Zondervan
Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI.
Vine: Vine’s Expository Dictionary
of Biblical Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN.
Thayer: Thayer’s Greek Lexicon,
2003, Biblesoft, Seattle, WA.
Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 1986, Thomas Nelson,
© 2007 Make Straight Paths