They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed. Titus 1:16
Disobedient – There are three different Greek words for disobedience. It is important to know why Paul chooses this one rather than the other two. Here the word is apeitheia. It means unwillingness to be persuaded, willful obstinacy. Then there is parakoe (Romans 5:19, Hebrews 2:2), a word that means careless listening leading to active disobedience. You can think of the Hebrew word shama where hearing and obeying are split apart. Finally, there is anupotaktos, meaning not subject to authority (1 Timothy 1:9). What Paul seems to have in mind here is the refusal to admit that a profession without subsequent transformation is an abomination to God. In other words, these are people who go right on claiming to be in God’s favor in spite of the fact that their lives point to another conclusion. They will not acknowledge the plain evidence. They won’t listen because they love what they do.
Maybe this is the worst of all the words Paul could choose to make his point. This word pushes aside our excuses. It wipes away our supposed ignorance. It goes right to the heart of the matter. We don’t want to hear what God says because we love the dark. Don’t be mistaken. These people are the first to tell you how much they love God. They are quick to step forward when the church needs volunteers. They might even give generously. But they don’t really want to change their lives. They want a religion that fits them, not one that convicts them.
When I was a teenager, I worked for a man who owned a chicken farm. After dark, we entered these enormous chicken coops, collecting thousands of chickens for processing. The chicken could not see in the low red light, so all we had to do was grab them by the feet and carry them to the waiting cages in the trucks. When we entered the coop, the smell was nearly overpowering. Everyone wore bandanas. But as the night wore on, we all noticed that the longer we were in the coop, the less we had to fight the smell, until finally, we were completely adjusted to it. Our minds simply blocked it all out. We didn’t know how bad it was until we finally finished the job and left the sheds.
That’s the way willful obstinacy works. Keep at it and pretty soon you don’t even notice that you are living in filth. Pretty soon things begin to smell normal. As long as you stay inside the chicken coop, you don’t know that you are slowing suffocating to death. God’s Word brings a searing blast of fresh air to your spiritual lungs. Suddenly, you are overpowered by the smell around you. You have two choices. Admit that you are living in filth and seek deliverance, or deny that the fresh air is real and put the face mask back on. Those who claim to love God but refuse to be chastened or convicted by His word are going to suffocate in chicken droppings. They just won’t know it until it’s too late.
If disobedience produces a hard-boiled attitude in you, your lungs are filling with toxic dust.
Topical Index: Professing