Does Titus 1:15 Mean Christians Can Watch South Park?

It’s Wednesday evening and fifteen Bible college students are huddled together in a single dorm room. In a couple of years these students will be sent out into the wild world of church ministry. Some will be pastors. Some will be youth pastors. Others music ministers. And some will end up selling insurance. But on this night they are shoulder-to-shoulder in this tiny room, fixated on the television screen.

South Park is on, and these guys are following their weekly tradition of catching a new episode and laughing along.

How can guys training for the ministry watch South Park together for entertainment?

Easy.

Titus 1:15. “To the pure, all things are pure”. That “all things” doesn’t give. It means all things. A Christian, with a pure heart, is able to watch something like South Park and pull out of it the pure things and dismiss the stuff that isn’t pure.

This use of Titus 1:15 pales in comparison to that used by The Family International. This cult uses Titus 1:15 to encourage members to enjoy sex with one another and also to use intercourse as an evangelistic tool.

It isn’t difficult to see that such an interpretation of Titus 1:15 flies in the face of biblical holiness. But what does this verse mean? What does it mean that to the pure all things are pure.

It’s All About the Context

All it takes is a little look at the context. Paul’s major point is found in the second part of Titus 1:15, “but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both heir minds and their consciences are defiled.” Paul is setting up a contrast between those that have been truly made pure by Jesus and those that are claiming to have ritual purity but live unholy lives.

In verse 14 Paul warns about those “devoting themselves to Jewish myths”. It’s no stretch to see that ritual purity was a massive part of this false teaching. So, you have a group of people (what Paul calls the circumcision party) upsetting whole families because they are claiming that things other than the gospel are required to make one pure.

Paul’s response is to say that to the pure (those made pure by Jesus) all things are pure. The “all things” is in relationship to the things that these false teachers are claiming are not pure. Paul is saying the same thing that Jesus said when he made all foods clean (Mark 7:19).

Paul is not saying if you are pure then you can do sinful things and not be defiled. He’s saying that if you’ve been cleansed by Jesus you can eat bacon. And if you haven’t been cleansed by Jesus you can wash your hands, strain out gnats, and follow ritual purity laws to the letter but still be defiled. Because even though these false teachers are professing to know God they are denying him by their works.

Conclusion

Titus 1:15 is not a license to sin or to put yourself in the path of impurity. It’s not a promise that a believer is now somehow immune from the lures of sin and can walk by a prostitutes house unscathed. Likewise this is not a call for Christians to engage in impure activities and somehow try to redeem them for the Lord.

Titus 1:15 in its context is a call to reject false teaching and to rest on Jesus as the sole basis of our purity. Any other application is stretching it far beyond its intention.

If you, Christian, want to watch South Park (or any of the other shows of similar ilk) with your buddies you need to find some place other than Titus 1:15 to clear your conscience.

Today in Blogworld 09.22.14

Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent

I found this incredibly interesting.

Why Leaders Fail

I think Dan Darling is spot on in these observations.

Can Facebook Really Ruin Your Marriage

Apparently Facebook is a growing factor in divorce cases. Aimee Byrd comments on this finding.

The Faith of Another

I appreciate Micah’s thoughts here on rightly understanding what another person believes.

This is a great impersonation of Matthew McConaughey, except of course this guy keeps his shirt on:

Open and Shut (YWS week 37)

richardsibbessmallWelcome to a year of reading Richard Sibbes together! The reading plan for the entire year can be accessed here. I encourage you to stick with us, allow yourself time to read, and soak in the riches of this gifted and prolific Puritan preacher. You will be edified and encouraged.

If you have trouble with how Sibbes used words, check out the Lexicons of Early Modern English for definitions from the period.

Summary/Engagement

“What is truth?” (Jn 18:38) Pilate asked Jesus. Our Lord had just finished telling the Roman governor that He had come to bear witness to the truth. He went further and said all who are of the truth listen’s to His voice. Pilate didn’t seem to have a category for truth the way Christ addressed it. I imagine, when I read that question, Pilate’s voice is either haunted or scornful dismissal. He is either haunted by the implications of Jesus’ words, or scornful of that which he does not believe to be important.

The whole basis of your trust in Christ and the Bible is one of truth. You don’t put your faith in a lie. At least, I hope you don’t. Pilate, in his political world, had no use for an absolute truth that did not bend to his desire and ambition. Jesus, just as much then as now, stands opposed to this world which does not honor God. Jesus came to “bear witness to the truth.” What truth is he talking about? Just hours before he laid it out, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” (Jn 14:6)

In this reading Sibbes’ is digging in to 2 Corinthians 1:19-23. The Bible asserts that God is true. Because of this, Paul’s word has been true. Finally, all the promises of God find their yes and amen in Jesus Christ. It is because of this truth and the trustworthy promises of God that the saint is established in Christ and his deliverance is sure.

So what is a promise? Sibbes says “A promise is nothing but a manifestation of love; an intendment of bestowing some good, and removing some evil from us.” And on what ground can we trust a promise, but that we believe in something to be true? We believe in the word of promise  because we believe in the promise Giver.

Application / Further Discussion

What is truth? Think about that question for a minute. Do you have a definition, or an intuitive understanding of it? “the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality,” Merriam-Webster says. Lets use that.

Do you believe the Word of God to be true? Do you believe Jesus Christ to be true? The promises of God rest on truth, and your desire to appropriate those promises for yourself in Christ rests on your belief in that truth. Put another way, you aren’t getting what you don’t believe in. In the church we talk often of those who profess Christ with their mouths but deny him with every action they take. Merely claiming the name of Christ, as though He were some magical incantation or formula, is not sufficient.

If you know Him, have repented of your sins, and believed in Jesus, then you know THE truth. Truth is not an abstract concept. All truth comes from God, who is Himself the truth. And as Dr. Sibbes rightly observes, “Divine truth is of an inflexible nature.” There is variation of shadow or change (James 1:17) in God. He does not change. This is part of His divine nature. If He did change, how terrifying that would be for a being of such power. One who knows all does not change. What would change Him?

So what! A local Pastor says this in every sermon. So what if God is truth, the source of all truth, and does not change. So what if God is to be trusted on the basis of His word and His person. The so what is, “The times vary, but not the faith of the times. The same fundamental truth is in all ages.” We follow the God who is the basis for our understanding of reality. We cannot know something to be true except the source of truth, God, has revealed it to us. Either by our construction in His image, having an intuitive knowledge of truth and error, right and wrong, or in the revelation we see in the natural world, or in the special revelation of His word. Whether you believe in Him does not alter the truth. Some people don’t believe planes hit buildings on 9/11. That doesn’t alter the fact that it happened.

Some people don’t believe there is a God, or that Jesus is God. That doesn’t alter His divinity. Nor should it alter your faith. “Opinion ought not to be the rule of things, but the nature of the thing itself.” God by His very nature, is truth. He is not subject to our judgment, our opinion, our whims, or our desires. We are subject to him.

Truth matters. Every time we concede a portion of the Bible is not true, or must be mistaken, we concede that God is wrong. It is His word, therefore it reflects Him. The world, your flesh, and the Devil would erode your belief in God. “Did God really say?” is not a new question. It’s as old as Eden. The consequences are the same for sin. There is but one deliverance, Jesus Christ. Stop playing with the truth, God is not your toy.

What’s that you say? Open-minded?

“Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.” – G.K. Chesteron

Last week, we read A Spiritual Man’s Aim.

Next week, we read The Saint’s Comforts.

Today in Blogworld 09.19.14

Dear Timothy: Find Your Contentment in Christ

A fictional letter from a veteran pastor to a young upstart pastor.

Why the ‘Concordance Reflex’ Fails In Sexuality

Al Mohler explains why we need a biblical theology of the body and sexuality instead of just throwing bible verses at people in our discussions of human sexuality.

Suicidal Thoughts on Suicide

Here are four questions on suicide.

Why Did Obama Say ISIL is Not Islamic?

This changed my thinking. I’ve always been annoyed when political leaders say that these terrorist groups are not truly Islamic. I still disagree with them, but now I have a better grasp on why they say this.

Deer meet cat: