titus 1v10-16

Day 1

10 For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. 12 One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.”[c] 13 This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith 14 and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

 

Paul has just directed Titus to appoint godly and doctrinally trustworthy people lead the church as elders. Now he gives the reason in verse 10. There are many would-be teachers around who will teach wrong theology. Now you might be thinking “theology is not my thing. I leave that up to others.” But we are all theologians, i.e. we all have views about God. The issue is do you have good theology, (and by that I mean is it biblical) or do you have bad theology? There are many warnings in the Bible against false prophets and false teachers. It is a constant threat to God’s people. 

 

It seems here that Paul’s immediate concern is with those who are deliberately trying  to lead people away from the apostolic teaching. Why that conclusion? Well he calls them “rebellious” [v10], deceptive [v10], teaching for dishonest gain [v11 – that might be monetary or to get fame etc], rejecting the truth [v14], they deny God by their actions [v16], they are unfit for doing any good [v16]. This is different from difference of opinion over things such as infant/adult baptism, predestination/Arminianism, theories of the atonement, roles of men and women, etc. the teachings Paul is warning about lead people away from the Saviour. It will also include those who undermine the authority of the scriptures for that is where we find the way to the Saviour. Without the authority of the Bible everything is up for grabs. 

 

Paul mentions the circumcision group, but doesn’t limit his comments to them. This group appears to be teaching that although Jesus is the Messiah and Saviour, we need to  be obedient to some of the Old Testament “iconic” laws that marked out God’s people – laws like circumcision, dietary laws and Sabbath keeping. Some modern day equivalent teaching would be those churches that claim we are saved by faith in Jesus but we also need to do certain things to be saved – things like baptism, confession, doorknocking, and taking communion.  We can all fall into the trap of thinking we can earn God’s forgiveness. That is false. 

 

PRAYER

Thank you, glorious Father, for your wonderful grace. Keep me from ever thinking I can earn your forgiveness, and help me to bask in the wonders of your forgiveness.  Amen

 





Day 2

10 For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. 12 One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons. 13 This saying is true.”

 

We come to the elephant in the room – Paul’s harsh words about the Cretans. How do explain what seems to be obvious racism from the mouth of an apostle?

 

Firstly, Paul says nothing about the Cretans that he hasn’t said about his own nation. Check out Romans 2 where Paul condemns his own people for condemning the behaviour of others because they do the same things themselves. Here he is quoting one of Crete’s own poet/philosophers, a man named Epimenides. As Tim Chester says ‘It’s a damning indictment, and probably not something you would want to say to a group of people unless you were able to cite one of their own as the source.” [Tim Chester Titus For You pg 44]

Chester points out that the word for “evil brutes” is literally “dangerous animals”. He says the problem in Crete was that the Christians do not want to be part of the flock under the shepherd.” [pg 45] 

 

Apparently in the Greek language “to Crete” was to lie. [Chester pg 45] To be a “Cretan” was a by word for dishonesty. Today Germany is the byword for engineering excellence, North Korea for paranoia, Australia for lopping down tall poppies. Paul, writing to a church planter in Sydney might just as easily and rightly have said “Be careful, those Sydneysiders are a pagan lot and will knock you leadership. They like to lop down tall poppies.” A generalisation indeed, but with some truth. 

 

No culture is sacrosanct but must be examined in the light of God’s word. What God says is wrong is wrong,  and what he says is right is right, no matter what the culture says or feels. To beat you wife is wrong, no matter what your culture does. To imprison people for their beliefs is wrong. Revenge culture is wrong. Honour killings are wrong. Treating people differently due to their class is wrong. All those things run counter to what God says in the Bible, even though they are acceptable in some cultures.

 

We are citizens of heaven and our culture is that of our citizenship. [Eph 2:19]  Our churches should be outposts of heaven here on earth, with a culture that brings the fragrance of Christ. [2 Cor 2:14]

 

 

PRAYER

Mighty God, help me to bring the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ wherever I go. Amen

 

 

 


Day 3

10 For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. 12 One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons. 13 This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith 14 and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. 

 

“They must be silenced”, “rebuke them sharply”.  Not really the sort of behaviour you expect from church leaders is it? However, we are seeing it at the moment from our political leaders where there are indeed sharp rebukes for those breaking covid restrictions. And most of us are in full support because the consequences of disregarding the restrictions are so dire, not just in terms of health but also people’s livelihoods. Paul is concerned about the consequences of false teaching and they are very serious indeed if it means that people could face God on the final day trusting in their own actions to save them. It couldn’t be more serious.

“It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” [Hebrews 10:31]

It is hard sometimes for us to see the seriousness of the issue. Does it really matter all that much as long as people love God? Paul thought so. In Romans 10 he says of his fellow Jews,

2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.” Romans 10:2&3]

Zeal is not enough; it must be based on the truth. They were misled because they were relying on their own righteousness rather than the righteousness that God gives through Jesus. 

They were relying on Jewish myths and human commands. There is no authority on matters spiritual other than the word of God. Even in our day some churches hold that church tradition is equal in authority to the Bible, others that present day experience of God has equal weight, and yet others that their modern day “apostles” can speak new authoritative truth from God. Only the scriptures are God-breathed and authoritative in the final sense. 

Beware of those who say “I know the Bible says that but ……..”

Are you tolerant in ways that are not helpful? 

 

 

PRAYER

My God, you have revealed yourself to us in the words of your apostles and prophets recorded in the Bible, and in the person of Jesus. Teach me to feast on them in my heart. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4

15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

The first half of verse 15 is rather confusing. Paul has been telling Titus how to deal with the legalist false teachers, those who were teaching that to be a real Christian they need to be circumcised and obey some of the other religious rules – Jewish myths and human rules. Those rules, he says in Colossians chapter 2, look like a good idea but have no power to stop us sinning. “Don’t eat that!” “Don’t touch that!” “Keep this day holy!” all these rules are about outward behaviour, which Jesus says is not the real issue. He says:

18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts – murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.’ [Matthew 15:18-20]

 

Food is not the problem, our greed is. Sex is not the problem, our lust and misuse of it is. Alcohol is not the problem, our overindulgence is. All these things, food, sex, alcohol are neutral, even blessings from God. No, the problem is us and our hearts. 

So for the pure, and by that I take it Paul is talking about the true disciple of Christ, they are free to ignore the religious proscription of certain foods and feast days, because they do not misuse God’s goods gifts. However, for those not forgiven and declared righteous, none of their rule-keeping is acceptable to God; “nothing is pure.”

 

There are some things that are not neutral, but by their nature are already a misuse of God’s good blessings. For instance, pornography is a warping of God’s blessing of sex. And there are some things that are pure for us that we should, for the sake of our brothers and sisters, not do, because it may cause damage to their faith. This latter is maybe the hardest freedom to give up because we are prone to stand on our rights to do or not do something and not want to give away that freedom for the sake of a fellow believer who may not understand our freedom, or who may struggle with it in some other way. For instance, our freedom to drink alcohol may need to be foregone in circumstances where it might cause grief to another disciple. 

We need to enjoy God’s blessings but be aware of our tendency to misuse them.

 

PRAYER

Lord and Father, thank you for all the blessings of this life. Teach me to enjoy them without misusing them. Amen

 

 

 


Day 5

15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

 

Now these are hard words, and Paul is saying something here that may well be hard for us to swallow.  He is widening his considerations from just the false teachers to all mankind, the pure and the corrupted. “The pure”  can only be those who are made new by Christ. In the book of Roman Paul says “14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. [Romans chapter 8] 

 

For Paul there are only ever two groups of people, those led by the Spirit, and those not led by the Spirit, who he says live according to the flesh. [Romans 8:5ff]. There is no middle ground. Hence, we are either God’s people or hostile to God. The latter, without the Spirit’s intervention, do not submit to God’s law, and cannot. [Romans 8:7] They cannot please God. [Romans 8:8] Why? Because without the transforming work of the Spirit we are “corrupted in both mind and conscience”, as he puts here in Titus 1. That is why God needs to change us before we will ever accept the work of Christ for us. That is why he must choose us before we can ever choose him. What a mighty Saviour! What a glorious God! Without his intervention we are unfit for doing anything good. 

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. [Isaiah 64:6]

And this is not just hyperbole.  Ephesians says “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” [Ephesians 2:1 & 1]

 

So there are many who do not follow Christ who do good things, and we all benefit from their acts, and in that sense they do good, and we should acknowledge and appreciate it. However, those things carry no weight with God – they are the works of rebels who refuse to bend their knee to the ruler of the universe. What a mighty rescuer who took you in your rebels state and remade you and adopted you. 

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” [Romans 5:8]

 

If that doesn’t thrill your soul there is something wrong!

 

PRAYER

God of love and grace, thank you for adopting me, unworthy as I am, and making me into a new creation. Amen

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