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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.  


15 To the pure all things are pure [ceremonially],

We must interpret the words “to the pure all things are pure” by the immediate context. The context deals with Jewish ascetic prohibitions. These regulations were the “commandments of men” (v. 14).

Purity here is ceremonial purity, not moral purity. It is purity by man-made regulations. As long as these leaders were ceremonially pure, nothing else mattered to them. These false teachers had a distorted view of purity. Their idea of purity was ceremonial rather than internal and moral.

False teachers inside the churches of Crete tried to reconcile legalist ceremonialism with the freedom and grace of the New Testament. They thought that a ceremony could gain God’s approbation. However, no ritual can cleanse the heart. Only the mind and conscience cleansed by God is pure. “All things” applies to all foods created by God for consumption (1 Ti 5:5).

On the other hand, biblically, to the truly pure in heart all things are pure. Whether a person eats foods ritually or not makes no difference. The issue is a question of the heart. All food is clean.

All things are pure to the pure in heart. A believer can do anything that the Word of God does not negate. To the believer all foods are clean (Mark 7:20-23). To those who are internally pure, all things are pure. This is a fundamental principle of Christianity. This statement is not a universal assertion that would include the idea of sin. Sin is never pure.


It is not the impure thing that makes the man impure; it is the man who makes the thing impure.


If a person’s heart is clean, then his perspective on everything else is pure. Inner purity produces outer purity.

Jesus challenged the error of external purity in the gospels. He said that it was not what goes into the body of a man but what comes out of his heart that defiles him. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with eating with ceremoniously unwashed hands.

Paul argued this point as well. He said that there is nothing unclean in itself (Ro 14:14, 20). The disposition of the mind and heart renders a person unclean.

Those who accept the death of Christ for their sin are pure in God’s economy. On the other hand, those who attempt to approach God by works are unclean.

The believer who does not subscribe to legalistic regulations is not defiled or impure. He is pure by the blood of Christ alone and not by legalism.