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.
but to those who are defiled
A second fundamental principle of this verse is that to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure. Those defiled in doctrine and life are so because they are “unbelieving.” Their basic problem was that they did not believe God’s Word. They “deny” God by their “deeds” (v. 16).
Ti 2: 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
Their disbelief rests in the fact that they reject God’s grace in order to rest on their asceticism. Self-abasement rejects the work of Christ on the cross. His suffering paid the price fully for our sins. For us to try to take the penalty for sins rejects by implication what Christ did to pay for our sins.
nothing is pure;
If a man’s inner life is not pure then nothing is pure. Nothing is pure to those internally impure. A maxim of Judaic Gnostic is everything is clean with their presuppositions. It does not matter what their character is like as long as it is in keeping with their rituals. Their ceremonial purity was more important than anything else. They put value on their man-made regulations over the revelation from God.
but [strong implication] even their mind and conscience are defiled.
The issue with false teachers was internal, not external. Their unbelief produced a defiled mind and cauterized conscience. The conscience is where we carry our norms and standards. They could manipulate or stretch their conscience to fit what they want to do.
1 Jn 2: 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
Holiness is incommunicable but unholiness is communicable.
The unholiness of man out of fellowship with God touches everything that he does. He is totally depraved. This doctrine does not mean that everybody is totally evil. It means that sin touches everyone in all spheres of his being. Unholiness is communicable. Holiness can only come from God Himself. He is the only one who can communicate holiness to man through Christ’s death.
Nothing outside the individual is internally pure. Purity is an issue of the internal, not the external. The Lord taught this as well (Ma 7:15; Lu 11:39-41). Nothing outside the person can corrupt him if he is internally pure. If there is corruption on the inside then everything he does is impure.
Genuine purity comes only from the grace of Christ. It cannot come from external behavior. The fundamental philosophy of religion is that man can gain God’s favor by what he does rather than by what Christ did. The idea we owe everything to Christ is unacceptable to religious people. There is nothing inherently valuable in religion. There is something fundamentally correct with God’s plan of salvation and sanctification.
The conscience contains our norms and standards. Doctrine gives those norms and standards to the soul. The reason evangelicals today buy into empty beliefs is they do not know the Bible. They do not have enough doctrine in their souls to countervail standards from the world. They allow empty ideas from the world system to enslave their thinking. When they believe these lies, they become vulnerable to deception.
Those who refuse doctrine are impure in their thinking. It is not what goes into the mouth of man but what comes out of his heart that defiles him (Mt 15:11, 15-20; Mark 7:14-22; Lu 11:38-41).
Ro 14: 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.