Have you ever met someone who, just by being there, makes things better? Someone who can touch a mess and make it look like art? On the other hand, have you ever known someone who can take anything, even the best things, and turn them into something twisted and filthy? What is the difference between the two?
In Titus 1:15, the Apostle Paul makes the following statement:
“To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.” (Titus 1:15 NASB)
What does that mean for us?
It does no eternal good to reform a man on the outside without the new birth taking place and purifying him on the inside. Let me illustrate it this way.
A first century church is having a meeting, when in walks a leper. Not just any leper, but one with advanced disease whose rotting sores and dying flesh hang foul and putrid beneath the filthy rags he is wearing. Instantly, the folks there take pity on him, throw away his noxious shreds of clothing, and out him into a beautiful new white robe and new sandals on his feet. What is the lasting effect? Quickly the rottenness of his flesh begins to defile his clothing once again, and the leper is left in the same condition as before.
No matter what they did to clean up the outside, unless they cure the leprosy on the inside they are only taking what is clean and defiling it.
Such is the case with those who are trying to “be a good person” but who have not been born again. No matter how many charitable works they do, or what a good neighbor they are, their righteousness is as “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) in the site of God because they have not been cleansed of their sins. The problem is not that they are as evil as they could possibly be. But since everything that is not done to the glory of God and in faith is a sin, every work they do, no matter what it is, is a sin!

But those who have been purged from their sins are pure. “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood” (Revelation 1:5b ESV) And they remain pure as they confess (i.e. agree with God about) their sins and are thus continually cleansed (1 John 1:9).
It is when we are saved that our sins are remitted (Acts 2:38) and we are clothed with Christ for “as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galatians 3:27 ESV) Only then can we be pure and do righteous works that are produced by our faith. Only then can we be said to have escaped the pollution that is in the world as our mind and conscience are renewed in Christ. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 ESV)

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