Paul is writing to fledgling churches scattered across the island of Crete. He’s left Titus there to appoint elders. And this letter serves to assist him in accomplishing that task. He needs to help the church identify qualified men who will lead the church.
But why is this so urgent?
Read Titus 1:10-16
False teachers don’t destroy churches, they defile them with their influence until the whole place is rotten.
Establishing elders was the most pressing need because there were many false teachers “upsetting whole families” who needed to be silenced. They needed to be rebuked sharply for teaching Jewish myths and human commands.
Part of the task of finding the right men is eliminating the wrong ones. Part of teaching right doctrine is correcting false doctrine.
Christianity is always one generation away from extinction.
False teachers must be silenced in order to protect the purity of the church.
Silence False Teachers (10-11)
Many insubordinate = rebellious/independent, stubbornly antiauthoritarian. Yet, their words are empty and deceitful. Their goal is to contradict sound doctrine with whatever misleads the Cretans. These opponents are primarily Jewish, promoting myths (v.14; 1 Tim. 1:3-4).
Unfortunately, false teaching that is left unchecked will result in a great number of sincerely deceived individuals. People willing to put on a tie and go door to door canvasing neighborhoods with pamphlets.
“Must” (2x; v.7). Just as the elders must be above reproach, these rebellious teachers must be silenced (muzzled). They’re overturning entire households! How? Teaching what they must not teach, a false gospel.
My own family experienced the corruption of false teaching. On one side, truth was compromised in order to keep peace between relatives > breakdown of religious observance altogether. On the other side, exploration of several major religions brought confusion > doubtful and tenuous practice of Christianity.
How did that happen to my family? Yours?
- Church leadership has no idea of the turmoil taking place in your home.
- Church leadership is not equipping people with sound doctrine and the ability to refute false teaching for themselves.
Stott When false teachers increase, the most appropriate long-term strategy is to multiply the number of true teachers, who are equipped to rebut and refute error.
Do you believe that?
Are you prepared to…
Rebuke False Teachers (12-14)
Paul interestingly, but effectively quotes Epimenides (6C BC). All truth is God’s truth.
They are always…
- liars = repeatedly lie.
- evil beasts = morally bad behavior, like wild animals.
- lazy gluttons = their bellies swell with laziness.
Paul agrees regarding the character of the false teachers. They and their followers needed a sharp rebuke.
The purpose of the rebuke is not to scold and embarrass, but to correct their faith and devotion to the truth.
False teachers have been so effective in America, the church also needs sharp rebuke. That’s exactly what Paul Washer did speaking to 5,000 students in 2002.
What you need to know is that salvation is by faith and faith alone in Jesus Christ. And faith alone in Jesus Christ is preceded and followed by repentance…a turning away from sin, a hatred for the things that God hates and a love for the things that God loves, a growing in holiness and a desire not to be like Britney Spears, not to be like the world, and not to be like the great majority of American Christians, but to be like Jesus Christ! The audience then erupts in applause.
I don’t know why you’re clapping. I’m talking about you. I didn’t come here to get amens. I didn’t come here to be applauded. I’m talking about you.
Paul Washer did not go easy on his listeners. He wasn’t tickling anyone’s ear. We may even think it was harsh at times. But it was exactly the kind of loving rebuke that many received as a wake up call.
False teachers and false doctrine will infiltrate our families and bring division into this church if we are unwilling to bring a sharp rebuke to those who teach it.
Do you know the truth well enough to…
Identify False Teachers (15-16)
Purity = ritually clean (2:14). The pure are free from guilt. They obey from a sense of freedom.
This is contrary to false teachers (1 Tim. 4:3-5). For those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure because their minds (thoughts) and consciences (affections) have been thoroughly corrupted.
Their professions of faith lack the fruit of true conversion.
Good trees bear good fruit and bad trees bear bad fruit.
In Brave New World Aldous Huxley considers whether happiness is more important than freedom. As science invents ways to fabricate happiness, people become less free. They suppress uncomfortable thinking with Soma (Mustapha, World Controller, “Christianity without the tears”).
Huxley believed religion’s Soma was asceticism (extreme self-denial).
That’s generally how people see reality. Either I can enjoy life now and live however I want, or I can suppress my happiness now in order to enjoy eternal happiness.
Cretan false teachers were ascetics. They cheapened morality by making it merely exterior (i.e., Pharisees). But, more importantly, they had eliminated grace by suggesting that purity only comes through obedience to manmade commands. In other words, obedience leads to happiness.
Christianity teaches that true freedom results when we freely accept what Jesus did for us. Grace and happiness precede obedience.
False teachers must be identified, rebuked, and silenced in order to protect the purity of the church.
If anything, the number of false teachers in the world today has increased. Religious and non-religious alternatives to the truth are on the rise. But Christ will build His Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Our response to the increase of false teachers is to multiply the number of true teachers. Those who are able to respond to the best the world has to offer with something far superior, namely Jesus Christ!
Scripture alone teaches that we are justified by faith alone in Christ alone, who offers grace alone, to the glory of God alone.