We've spent eleven weeks examining the requirements of elders. Today we will see the last of these, which will then lead Paul into the reason that the church needs men who possess this final attribute. And so, we pick up in verse nine, where Paul is saying that the overseer must be...
The elder must be a man of sound doctrine - holding to it, exhorting in it, and refuting with it. In other words, the elder must be a man who knows the Word, is able to teach the Word, and can correct false teachers with the Word.
Some people don't like it when sound doctrine is taught and false doctrine is exposed. "Hey, that's too divisive. We're just supposed to love one another. To be one big happy family." On the contrary, Jude said,
Jude 1:3-4 ...I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed...
Certain people in the church, both then and now, bring in false doctrine. Jude didn't say, "Just compromise - it'll all work out. Just don't make waves or cause hurt feelings." No, he instead appealed to us to contend earnestly, to fight strenuously, and to labor fervently in defense of the truth of the faith which was once for all delivered to us.
1) People who try to change the sound doctrine of the faith must be corrected; 2) People who continue in it must be rebuked; 3) And the sheep who are exposed to it must be told that it is false.
These are the reasons why the elders must hold to sound doctrine, exhort in sound doctrine, and refute with sound doctrine.
Now Paul describes the nature of these false teachers who need to be refuted.
First of all, they are rebellious, refusing to submit to authority.
Secondly, they are empty talkers. This is one word in Greek, which means "saying that which is futile, useless, vain, and worthless." There's a lot of words, but no content.
Thirdly, they are deceivers. Specifically, the Greek word means "to deceive the mind."
Many - but not all - of these men were from "the circumcision." Remember that these were the Jews who told Gentile Christians that salvation by grace wasn't enough. They had to first become Jews before they could be saved by Jesus. They still exist today - rebelling against the church, teaching empty and untrue doctrine and history, and deceiving people into believing that they have the "complete" knowledge.
Again, we see Paul's exhortation to Pastor Titus and the elders he will appoint: these deceivers must be silenced. The Greek language here means, "to be against the mouth of."
We cannot order a "hit" against false teachers. We can't hire assassins to cut out their tongues. All we can do is publicly oppose their lies and teach the truth.
Verse eleven also tells us what results from their nature and behavior: they upset whole families. Maybe you've seen this happen in Christian families before: one of the people in the family gets drawn into some weird teaching, and begins to tell the other people in the family that they're deceived. They don't have the truth. They're not even really Christians. As a result, the whole household is overturned and destroyed.
And why do these teachers do this? Simply for sordid gain. Whether their motivation is to get rich through their televangelism ministry, or gain respect and admiration and reputation from people, it is all sordid gain.
We talked about the nature of many of the inhabitants of Crete in our first study. Paul is pointing out that deceitful teaching for sordid gain appeals to so many of them because so many of them were liars and lazy gluttons.
Yet again, we see the exhortation: "reprove them severely." They are so deceived - believing made-up stories from mystic Jews, and bound up in their legalism. The Father said, and Jesus reiterated this specifically, saying,
Mark 7:6-9 ..."'THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.' Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." He was also saying to them, "You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition."
So much of religion is man-made. And man-made religion is an abomination to God. Man comes up with rules to follow. Paul asked,
Col. 2:20-21 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, "Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!"
To we who are purified by Christ, we don't need rules. We don't need to be told what will defile us, for we know it in our spirits.
If you're not pure, then even pure things can be turned to impurity. Everything will become an innuendo, everything will be turned around in your mind to be dirty. Someone like is worthless for any good deed, because even when they do something that seems good, their insides are wicked. Jesus said,
Luke 6:43 "...there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit."
Titus was not in the camp of the defiled. He was purified by Jesus Christ, and considered worthy, being put into service as a minister. Paul reminds him to simply speak the truth, teaching the Word of God solidly and properly.