The verse in Titus 1:15 states “To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.” This verse teaches an important truth about how our heart condition impacts how we view the world around us. Let’s explore what it means in more detail:
1. Purity starts from within
The Bible makes it clear that true purity is first an internal matter of the heart before it manifests externally. Proverbs 4:23 states “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Jesus himself taught “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). 1 Timothy 1:5 explains “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
Therefore, when Titus 1:15 refers to “the pure,” it is talking about those who have been cleansed and renewed internally by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. As 2 Corinthians 7:1 exhorts, “let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” Purity starts from within.
2. The pure can view life through a godly lens
For the person whose heart has been purified by Christ, they now have the capacity to view all things in life through a godly lens. Whereas they used to perceive the world through the defective filter of the flesh, they now can receive things through the clarity of the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:14-15 notes this distinction: “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things.” As believers, we are called to not be conformed to this world, but instead to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).
Therefore, to the pure, all things can be seen as God intends them to be. With a sanctified heart and mind, everyday things can now be received as from the hand of God and for His glory. Even something as basic as eating and drinking can be done to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
3. The pure find all things pure
When our hearts have been cleansed from sin, we are able to see all things as God designed them to be. In Genesis 1, at the end of each day of creation, “God saw that it was good.” The pure in heart can also recognize the original goodness of the things God has made, whereas the corrupt heart will twist and pervert even good things.
The pure do not have to reject all of life as unholy. As 1 Timothy 4:4-5 says, “everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” So to the pure, all things can be sanctified and made holy in their eyes when received as from the Lord.
This does not mean that the pure regard evil things as good. But by walking in holiness, they keep themselves separate from what is sinful and unclean, while also embracing life within God’s original intent.
4. The defiled make nothing pure
Titus 1:15 makes a stark contrast to the pure. It says for those who are “defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure.” When our hearts are tarnished by sin, we lose the capacity to see anything as God intends it.
Romans 14:23 says, “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” Without faith, even things that may be good in themselves can become sinful to us. Our hearts are like mirrors – when they are darkened by sin and unbelief, they end up distorting everything we perceive.
Proverbs 30:12 poetically describes this: “There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth.” Isiah 64:6 adds, “all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” When we try to judge or handle holy things in an unholy state, we end up further polluting them as well as ourselves.
This is why Titus 1:15 associates defilement and unbelief together. Faith and a pure heart are intertwined. Without purity by faith in Christ, we remain unable to see anything as holy. Thankfully, as Hebrews 9:14 promises, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”
5. Defilement spreads
The verse goes on to explain that for the defiled and unbelieving, “both their minds and their consciences are defiled.” In other words, the pollution of sin spreads throughout every faculty of the unbeliever. What starts in the heart works its way into the mind, will, and even our conscience.
That’s why Paul associates defilement with searing or polluting of the conscience in verses like 1 Corinthians 8:7 and Titus 1:15. When our conscience becomes defiled, we lose that internal barometer of discernment between right and wrong. This is evidenced all throughout the pagan world depicted in the Bible, where even something as heinous as child sacrifice can be justified or legalized without batting an eye.
So defilement leads to more defilement. What may start as small footholds of sin in the heart will lead to greater corruption if not cleansed. That corruption will spill over to pollute everything we think, do, or speak. As Jesus said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him” (Mark 7:20).
6. Pursue purity
How then should we respond to this truth? By pursuing purity with all vigor. The Book of James exhorts us, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8) and “pursue peace with all men, and holiness” (Hebrews 12:14).
It starts by receiving the gift of salvation by grace through faith in Christ. From there, we cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s transforming work to renew our minds and cleanse our hearts from all indwelling sin. We maintain purity by walking in fellowship with God, obeying His Word, putting off the old self and putting on our new selves in Christ.
The hope of glory is that we shall be like Christ, for we shall see him as he is. And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, as he is pure (1 John 3:2-3). As we walk in purity, we will be able to receive all things in this life with joy and thanksgiving as God designed them, bringing honor to our Savior.