They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work. (Titus 1:16)
Paul wrote to Titus about the kind of people causing trouble among the Christians on the island of Crete. He described them in several ways.
First, Paul said “They profess to know God.” If you asked these difficult people if they knew God, they would absolutely say, “Yes!” But it isn’t enough to claim to know God; one must have more than good words. In James 2:19 it says that even demons believe that God exists, and it makes them tremble!
While these difficult people claimed to know God, Paul also said of them: “but in works they deny Him.” They talked a good talk, but in works they deny Him. How they lived contradicted their profession to know God. We can’t just go by what a person says. We have to also look at how they live.
The Bible tells us that it is possible for a person to do a lot of good, and yet still not be in right relationship with God. Jesus warned us of those who claim to know God and even do good things in His name, yet Jesus would say to them: “I never knew you; depart from Me.” (Matthew 7:21-23).
That’s why Paul could use such strong language of these difficult people: “Being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.” These were strong words, but Paul meant it. These difficult people probably pretended to have a higher spirituality than Titus or other godly leaders. But Paul saw right through their spiritual façade and wanted Titus – and all the Christians on Crete – to see through it also.
To me, the most interesting word in that short list is “disqualified.” According to William Barclay, this translates the ancient Greek word adokimos, and was used in many different ways
– It was used to describe a counterfeit coin.
– It was used to describe a cowardly soldier who failed in battle.
– It was used of a candidate rejected for elected office.
– It was used of stone rejected by builders. If a stone had a flaw that was bad enough, it was marked with a letter A (for adokimos) and set aside as unfit.
It’s important that we receive God’s grace and never become disqualified in any of those ways.
– To be true, and never counterfeit in our faith in God.
– To be brave in our life and service of Jesus Christ.
– To live in a way that honors God’s election of us in Christ Jesus.
– To fulfill our place as a stone set in the “temple” of God’s people.
God helping us, we will never hear those terrible words, “I never knew you; depart from Me.” (Matthew 7:21-23).