Titus 1:16
The apostle here describes their moral deficiency. "They confess that they know God, but in works they deny him."

I. THEY WERE MERE PROFESSORS OF RELIGION, POSSESSING ITS FORM BUT DENYING ITS POWER.

1. Their knowledge of God was purely theoretical or speculative, but they were practical atheists.

2. Hypocrites often profess great knowledge of God.

3. Even in apostolic times the communion of the Church was considerably mixed. There is no trace of a pure Church anywhere on earth. The Church in Crete had unbelievers in its visible membership.

II. THEIR DENIAL OF GOD TOOK A MOST PRACTICAL SHAPE. Their conduct gave the lie to their profession. They wore:

1. Abominable in the sight of God. They were morally abandoned. They were as hateful in the sight of God as the idols of the nations.

2. Disobedient. They were refractory and incorrigible, despising all order and repudiating obligation.

3. Reprobate unto every good work. They were as useless for the service of God as reprobate silver, which cannot bear the fire of the refiner.

(1) They did no good works.

(2) They had neither knowledge nor inclination to do good works.

(3) Therefore they were quite useless in the service of God and man. - T.C.







They profess that they know God
Homilist.
I. Conventional Christians are PROFESSIONAL ATHEISTS.

II. Conventional Christians are PRACTICAL ATHEISTS.

1. They deny God's authority in everyday life; ignore the claims He has upon their existence, powers, possessions.

2. They deny His teaching, He teaches that spiritual interests are supreme. They declare in their daily life that temporal interest are paramount. He teaches that no man should live to himself, but should be inspired by that benevolence that will promote the common weal. But they practically declare that self-interests are supreme, that every man should work for himself, regardless of the common good. He teaches to honour all men on account of what they are. They declare that those only are to be honoured who are endowed with wealth, and move in the pageantry of worldly pomp and power.

(Homilist.)

I. HYPOCRISY THE OCCASION OF ATHEISM. False and inconsistent professors cause more scepticism than the active propagandism of infidels.

II. HYPOCRISY IS OFFENSIVE EVEN TO THE UNGODLY.

III. HYPOCRISY IS PRACTICAL DISOBEDIENCE. The law is first for the spirit, then the letter: for the life through the heart.

IV. HYPOCRISY UNIVERSALLY CONDEMNED. Though in appearance full of "good works," the hypocrite is condemned as destitute of any.

(F. Wagstaff.)

I. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE HYPOCRITES IN THE CHURCH. Although the Lord could easily and at once purge His floor of them, yet in great wisdom He suffereth them.

1. In regard of His own glory, that His holiness might appear in the daily discovering of them and purging His Church; for he cannot abide that hypocrites should go in the tale and account of His children. But one time or other, one way or other, will be sanctified in all them that come near Him; at which time His. glory also shineth out unto others in their just judgment.

2. In regard of the wicked, that they should the more stumble at the truth by reason of some hypocrites among professors.

3. In regard of the godly, that they should partly be exercised by this means, and partly driven to examine what truth is in them.

4. In respect of the truth itself, which getteth some testimony hence, as Christ on the cross by the very title of His enemies, affirming that He was the King of the Jews.

II. THE CHARACTER OF THE HYPOCRITE.

1. The hypocrite is a great professor of religion, and hence cometh to be answerable to his name, in seeming to be, and sustaining the person that he is not. As a clown or knave on a stage playeth the part of a noble, or king, but is well known to be the next remove from a rogue, so these fellows whom the apostle noteth have often in their mouths the name of God and of Christ, the title of the Church, and pretend great knowledge of God and cunning in the Scriptures, and other ecclesiastical writings; yea further, make a great show of faith and pity, and if bare profession would lead to heaven, these could not be the least or last there. And to make this a little more plain, an hypocrite can carry himself so level and even in his course, as no man shall be able outwardly to accuse him, or impute anything unto him, no more than the disciples could accuse Judas, when every man said, "Master, is it I?" but none of them said, Master, is it Judas?

2. The second note is in these words, But indeed they deny him. That is, all the religion of an hypocrite is only in outward profession, separated from the inward sincerity of the heart. All that we have spoken of him is but a lifeless form of godliness, in which the power of it is denied (2 Timothy 3:5). Men may be said to deny a thing three ways.

1. With the tongue.

2. With the heart; thus the atheist denieth God (Psalm 24:1).

3. With the life or actions, which is here properly meant.For ask the tongues and words of these men concerning their courses, all will appear to be fish whole, but ask their lives, and you shall hear their works (which are far more evident witnesses with or against a man, than his words) speak otherwise. Or, grant they do many glorious works to the eye, yet even herein after a sort God is denied, in that they are lame, and, indeed, carcases of good actions, without any soul to quicken them; all is external, and in such works they may be very busy, but spiritually they perform nothing.

3. The third note or character, is in a further degree of the sin, in that they are said, rebellious to God's commandment, and disobedient to the doctrine of God. The Word giveth us to discover two vices in these titular Christians.

(1)Infidelity.

(2)Rebellion, or in one word, the want of the obedience of faith.True it is they make a great show of faith, but the apostle distinguisheth of faith; one kind is feigned, another is unfeigned: the former may be joined with much knowledge, much talk of piety, but never with a pure heart and good conscience, as the latter. Now this unfeigned faith, being the mother and mistress of unfained obedience, and the only root whence this fruit can bud and blossom, whosoever are destitute of the former cannot but be barren of the latter. What are the fruits of unbelief, see Acts 17:5; 2 Thessalonians 3:2; Hebrews 3:12.

4. The fourth note is yet in a further degree of the sin, and goeth near the detection of him; when after long custom in sin, and cracking his conscience checking him, he becomes as a crazy pitcher which is unfit to hold water; so is he reprobate to every good duty; now can he do nothing but rush into sin thick and threefold, and dowse himself over head and ears in impiety.

III. THE MISERABLE CONDITION OF THE HYPOCRITE. They are abominable to God, which appeareth both —

1. In their persons.

2. Their actions.

3. Their punishment.For their persons, they are but half Christians, neither hot nor cold, and therefore the Lord cannot digest them, compared to cakes but half baked (Hosea 7:10), and not turned on the other side. Seeing, therefore, they are such as withdraw their best part from God, the soul of God can take no pleasure in them. Their actions, although never so good in themselves, never so specious unto others, yet are abominable unto God. Yea, in their most devout services, they do nothing but (as Ephraim) compass the Lord with lies, and deceit (Hosea 11:12). Their punishment showeth them to be every way abhorred of God; for as men deal with things they hate, so the Lord —

1. Casteth them out of His sight (Job 13:16). The hypocrite shall not come before Him, the workers of lies shall not enter within the walls of that holy city. Yea, sometimes they are cast out of His presence, as Cain was, even out of the visible Church, as they are ever out of the invisible, to show that they shall never be endured hereafter.

2. Destroyeth them; for their destruction from the Lord sleepeth not, but shall surprise them; perhaps while they are in the body, as Ananias and Sapphira, but certainly hereafter.

(T. Taylor, D. D.)

Here learn —

1. That hypocrites are generally great professors: they profess great knowledge of God, and great zeal for Him.

2. That to deny God is a very heinous sin, and an abominable wickedness: there is a twofold denial of God; first in words, expressly and openly; secondly, in practice, closely and consequentially; "They profess that they know God; but in words they deny Him." There may be at once a professing of God, and a denial of Him; many a man's practice speaks loud, that there is no God, when he makes a fair confession and profession of Him with his mouth and tongue.

3. That no sorts of persons are so odious to God, and abominable in His sight as those who make a profession of His holy name and truth, but walk contrary in their lives to that profession.

(W. Burkitt, M. A.)

"I laid aside a coin one day but did not remember just where I had put it, till one day I found it in a comer, encrusted with rust. At first, I thought it was copper, but careful examination proved it to be silver. It had lain there so long that it was tarnished and unrecognisable. Just as many Christians, alas I are so covered with the grime and filth of this world that it is no wonder that the unconverted and Christians look upon them as copper instead of being good silver."

In true kindness of heart, sweetness of temper, open-handed generosity, the common charities of life, many mere men of the world lose nothing by comparison with such professors; and how are you to keep the world from saying, "Ah! your man of religion is no better than others; nay, he is sometimes worse!" With what frightful prominence does this stand out in the answer — never-to-be-forgotten answer — of an Indian chief to the missionary who urged him to become a Christian. The plumed and painted savage drew himself up in the consciousness of superior rectitude; and with indignation quivering on his lip and flashing in his eagle eye, he replied, "Christian lie! Christian cheat! Christian steal! — drink! — murder! Christian has robbed me of my lands, and slain my tribe!" adding, as he turned haughtily away, "The devil, Christian! I will be no Christian." Many such reflections teach us to be careful how we make a religious profession! And having made the profession, cost what it may, by the grace of God let us live up to it; and act it out. It is better not to vow, than, having vowed, not to pay.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

Many people are offended with the profession of religion, because all are not religious who make a profession. A little consideration will correct this error. Does the sheep despise its fleece because the wolf has worn it? Who blames a crystal river because some melancholy men have drowned themselves in its streams? The best drugs have their adulterants. And will you refuse an opiate, because some have wantonly poisoned themselves with it? Though you have been cozened with false colours, yet you should not dis-esteem that which is dyed in grain. He is a bad economist who, having a spot in his garment, cuts off the cloth, instead of rubbing off the dirt. God rejects all religion but His own.

(T. Seeker.).

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