16 They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.
Verse 16 is a specific evaluation of false teachers.
16 They profess to know God,
False teachers always make religious noise and talk a big game. They declare by public profession that they know God. Distortions of truth often sound wonderful but they are poison that will corrupt the Christian life.
but in works they deny Him,
False teaching always shows itself in corrupt actions. There is an essential dichotomy between what apostates say and what they do, by what they claim and what they are. They function on ritual without reality. They deny what they profess and profess what they deny. That is nothing more than hypocrisy. Religious form without reality is the devil’s ace trump. He does not want the Christian to engage with the reality of Christianity but only with its form.
being abominable [detestable],
The teaching of false teachers is abominable or detestable to God. Asceticism devoid of truth is an abomination.
The falsity of asceticism manifests itself in not believing in the principle of grace. False teachers reject the truth of God’s grace.
and disqualified for every good work.
God never divorces truth from ethics. Valid truth always results in living that is in accordance with God’s character.
“Disqualified” means does not stand the test. If something does not stand the test, it is disqualified. The issue here is not Old Testament ceremonial rites but includes esoteric ideas of legends, ascetic practices, and genealogies. The false teachers incorporated some doctrines of Judaism, but their teaching included cultic ideas as well.
2 Ti 3: 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith;
False teachers have to decide whether they choose revelation or tradition, divine viewpoint or human viewpoint. They then must decide whether they profess true inward reality or outward ritual. True Christianity is divine viewpoint, real in its relation to God and transformative from the inside out.
God always connects what a person believes and how he behaves.
Godly living is a corollary to what one believes. People do what they do because of their nature. No matter how religious they may be, they are despicable in God’s eyes—and that in spite of the fact that they are sticklers for man-made rules and regulations. Legalism always is offensive to God. No one can attain acceptance by God through self-effort.
The ultimate question for those who would distort God’s Word is this: What God said? Is it true? Are we willing to submit to it? Today the evangelical church is struggling again with the issue of the inerrancy of Scripture. Those true to Scripture battled that issue decades ago in the Council on Biblical Inerrancy in Chicago. Now it has raised its ugly head again. Every generation has to address apostasy in its time.
All falsity is paradoxical. People profess to know God, but their behavior negates that claim. This is both detestable and disobedient. The church of our day must remove spiritual cancer; otherwise, assemblies that yield to false teaching will lose their impact on the world. We can change what we want to believe but we cannot change the consequences.