I’m sure you’ve heard of absent-minded professors, men who are so engrossed in their deep thoughts that they tend to lose track of the little things we must all keep in mind in order to get along in life. Well, in Paul’s letter to Titus, the apostle warned the young man about some false teachers, saying,
“…even their mind… is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:15,16).
From the context, we know that these defiled-minded professors were the “vain talkers… of the circumcision” (Tit. 1:10) who were “teaching things which they ought not” (v. 11). I think Paul called them “defiled” because these unsaved Jews were trying to teach the grace believers in Crete’s churches that they would be defiled if they ate meats prohibited by the law of Moses, for that’s what the law said of such people (Lev. 11:43).
But it doesn’t say that about those of us who are not under the law, but under grace (Rom. 6:15 cf. I Tim. 4:1-5). Paul just finished saying of us, “unto the pure all things are pure” (v. 15), speaking of the foods we eat (cf. Rom. 14:20). So Paul turned the tables on those defiled-minded professors, and said that it was “their mind” that was actually “defiled” for thinking that way, not the people who ate those meats!
When Paul said that these defiled-minded professors were “abominable,” he is again turning the tables on those legalizers. You see, “abominable” is another word the law used of those who ate unclean meats (Lev. 11:41-43). So in calling the legalizers “abominable,” Paul is assuring the grace believers in Crete’s churches that they weren’t abominable, their accusers were.
In calling these false teachers “disobedient,” I believe Paul was again responding to the charges that these defiled-minded professors were levying against the saints. When the grace believers in Crete’s churches insisted that they could eat meats that were banned by the law, they were probably accused of having cast the law behind their backs, for that’s the very definition of the word “disobedient” under the law (cf. Neh. 9:26). But in rushing to the defense of the Cretian believers, Paul points out that the Law teachers were the ones who were really “disobedient,” as were all unsaved Jews (Rom. 10:21) who had not “obeyed the gospel” (Rom. 10:16).
Finally, Paul calls these legalizers “reprobate” (Tit. 1:16). That’s a word that the dictionary defines as abandoned, and that’s how the word is used in Scripture as well. In speaking of the Gentiles who lived before Abraham, God said that He had to give them up and give them over to “a reprobate mind” (Rom. 1:24,26,28). That’s pretty much the definition of abandonment, and that’s why Paul called those ancient Gentiles reprobate.
But the unsaved Jews in Paul’s day had become just as reprobate! When Paul says that they were reprobate “unto every good work,” that meant they were totally incapable of doing anything that pleased God. No wonder the apostle Paul, in speaking of both Jews and Gentiles, wrote:
“God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all” (Romans 11:32).
Today, unsaved Jews are just as defiled-minded as unsaved Gentiles, but God is willing to have mercy on them all. All He asks is that they believe the only reason they’re worthy of Heaven is that Christ paid for their sins on the cross of Calvary and rose again. If you’re not saved, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.