Devotional Commentary for January 21-27
10For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,
11who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.
In last week's devotional reading, we heard Paul loud and clear as he exhorted Titus to be well-grounded in the Word of God so that he would be able to teach, reprove, and correct the church with God's Truth. He outlined two major reasons why the churches in Crete needed a strong and sound Christian leadership: certain greedy individuals within the Christian community in Crete, and the corrupt ways of the moral, social, and cultural life and practices of the Cretans.
In essence, Paul alerted Titus about the troublemakers within the churches in Crete and what must be done about them. He identified certain men of Judaic persuasion who were deceivers, greedy, unruly, and vain. Such men infiltrated the churches in Crete and were disturbing the peace within the community of believers, misleading the faithful to accept false teachings as truth, contrary to the Gospel.
As Paul noted in Titus chapter one verse nine, the only weapon against falsehood is the Word of God. These agents of falsehood had to be silenced by the power of the truth of the Gospel. If left unchecked, their poisonous propagation would undermine the church by weakening individuals and families within the church. If left uncontested, the promoters of falsehood could easily entice individuals and families through greed, deceitful eloquence, and dirty tricks. If left to fester, individuals would be weakened, families would be broken up, and the church would eventually be undermined.
Titus and the church leaders under his charge must be aware that, such rebellious men do not merely resist the truth, but they are defiant and must, therefore, be silenced. Such men are not honestly-misguided believers who would need corrective instructions. They must be confronted by the truth of the Gospel and their falsehood must be openly defeated. Their pursuit of greed and heresy must be stopped and the church must be free from corruption and chronic falsehood.
12One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons."
13This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith,
14not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth.
Quoting Epimenides the legendary Cretan Seer, Paul mentioned the second issue troubling the churches in Crete. The believers in Crete were distressed not only by the Judaizers who infiltrated the ranks of the churches, but also by the corrupt culture of the Cretan society. Paul reminded Titus that their own well-renowned legendary philosopher described his own countrymen in despicable terms, stating that Cretans were always liars, savage, and lazy gluttons.
Even though Paul agreed with such loathsome description of the Cretans, he did not summarily dismiss all of Crete as a lost cause for the work of the Gospel. But he warned Titus to be aware that the Cretans in his churches were once deeply steeped in a corrupt culture of a depraved society. Titus needed to realize that the influences of such deeply rooted corrupt norms should be neither dismissed as insignificant nor ignored or tolerated.
In spite of the Judaizers and the influences of the corrupt Cretan culture, Paul strongly exhorted Titus to patiently instruct the weak-minded among them and keep the flock from being enticed by money and worldly reveling. Because of the inherent influences of a culture that was insidiously corrupt, Paul admonished Titus to correct the churches not with gentle persuasion, but with sharp, clear, and true godly directives from the Word of God.
When errors and falsehood begin to undermine the Gospel and distort the truth, then strong action must be taken immediately by destroying the strongholds of falsehood with the power of the Truth, only found in the Word of God. Paul instructed Titus to teach the Cretan believers to disregard Jewish myths and reject the familiar corrupt ways of their former Cretan practices.
15To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.
16They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.
Paul wanted his son in the faith to distinguish between genuine believers and those who merely exhibit the appearance of godliness. Those who have been washed clean by the cleansing blood of the Lamb of God are pure and clean because the Word of God is alive in them. And to such, all things are pure. But to those who have not experienced the cleansing touches of God's redemption, nothing is pure and holy because they are still inwardly unholy in spite of their outward appearance.
The Judaizers and the corrupt Cretans were not only unbelievers, but have infiltrated the church to pollute the faithful and defile the conscience of the unsuspecting. They deceive the faithful easily and conveniently because they profess to know God. But they defile the church because their deeds are ungodly. They are disobedient, abhorrent, and totally worthless in matters of true faith in God.
Paul exhorted Titus to be well-grounded in the Word of God not only to preserve and protect the faithful, but that he might also be able to discern when and whom to instruct, correct, or strongly rebuke. Any claim to know God supported by a passionate profession of faith in God can be deceiving if the passionate behavior prove to be empty confession. So Paul exhorted Titus to be well-exercised in the true wisdom of God's Word so that he might be able to lead and nurture the church with the Bread of life and the living Water.
In Paul's mind, there was nothing so terrible as a person who pretends to be a believer but denies God in reality. He simply could not tolerate a disobedient spirit which disregards God's redemption, His Will and His Purpose. A false teaching which advocates the need to perform ordinances and follow traditions in order to earn what God has already given through His Son, denies the sufficiency of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is unpardonable unless and until the Holy Spirit replaces the heart of stone with the heart of flesh in a soul so corrupted by sin and disobedience.
But there is a more serious issue at hand which Paul earnestly wanted to reveal to Titus. While the infiltration of the church by the Judaizers and corrupt Cretans is seriously troubling, the failure of a church leader to discern the festering of such an evil device within the church is disheartening. Any servant of God called into leadership or any other field of ministry should be discerning and must always be prepared and equipped to feed, keep, and look after the flock of the faithful entrusted to his care by the true Shepherd.
The servant of God must never wait for any crisis to develop and then react to the consequent circumstances. But one must be in the lead responding to the needs of the faithful rightly dividing the truth and nourishing the church instead of waiting and reacting. Otherwise, the church can easily drown in the ever-flowing deluge of Judaizers and corrupt Cretans always present in the church and its immediate surroundings, any time, any place.
These timeless troubles continue to plague the church as long as corrupt men are left unchecked to persist in rebellion against the Gospel within the walls of our churches. So the question to the church and Christian leaders is: Is it the bowed-head, or the turned-back? Is it the obedient bowed-head to the Master, or, the indifferent turned-back to His calling? Do we answer His sacred call and follow His instructions, or, do it our way and let the Judaizers and corrupt Cretans prevail? God forbid! Instead, one must Be diligent to serve God as a workman who is not ashamed, accurately handling the Word of Truth as one who leads and feeds the Church of Jesus Christ.