Thursday, September 07, 2023

2023.09.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Titus 1:10–16

Titus 1:10–16

Questions from the Scripture text: What quantity of insubordinate church members are there in Crete (Titus 1:10)? What two types are there? Especially from what group? What must be done to them (Titus 1:11)? Why—whom do they subvert? What do they teach? Whom are they hoping to advance? What had even Cretans said about Cretans (Titus 1:12)? Who agrees with this assessment (Titus 1:13)? What must Titus do, then? Unto what end? What fables mustn’t they heed (Titus 1:14)? What commandments mustn’t they obey? When someone turns to these, from what do they turn away? What is pure to whom (Titus 1:15)? To whom is nothing pure at all? Why—what is defiled? What might someone in this condition profess (Titus 1:16)? How do they deny God? What are they in their character? With what result in their behavior?

Why is it so important to have sound teachers as elders? Titus 1:10–16 looks forward to the second serial reading of in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these seven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that elders must be sound teachers in order to overcome theological error that arises within a congregation. 

Stopping the mouths of those who talk contradictory theology. In Titus 1:9, we learned that elders must have been teachable, so that they would know how to teach and be committed to teaching—especially “those who contradict.” Now, we learn that there are many of these “insubordinate” (Titus 1:10) contradictors, and that they harm not only themselves but entire households (Titus 1:11). Sometimes, they are just “talking theology,” but they really don’t know what they are talking about (“idle talkers,” Titus 1:10). Other times, they are intentionally trying to turn people away from the sound teaching of the church (“deceivers,” verse 10). In both cases, their mouths are dangerous, and must be stopped (Titus 1:11).

Advancing Christ or self? Regardless of what such people might say, they are not seeking to advance the cause of Christ. (If they really were serving Christ, they would follow His order in the church and stop their own mouths!). The phrase at the end of Titus 1:11 just takes the components from the end of Titus 1:7 and splits them into separate words. They are unashamed to spread their doctrinal ideas because it seems to advance them in some way.

One reason that sound doctrine is so needful: combating remaining sin. True doctrine teaches how to walk as one who has his entire life in the Lord Jesus. This is the only hope for combatting sin. And the Cretans had plenty of sin to combat (Titus 1:12)! So the elder needs to use “sound doctrine” (Titus 1:9) to “convict those who contradict” (verse 9). Attempting to use the ceremonial law apart from fulfillment in Christ turned it into mere fables that can’t do anything against sin (Titus 1:14a, cf. “circumcision” in Titus 1:10, cp. Galatians 6:13–16). And the “commandments of men” (Titus 1:14b) can’t do anything against sin either. 

The apostle wrote to Timothy that such commands (1 Timothy 4:3) are actually “doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). “Do not touch” and “do not taste” turns a man away from the truth (end of Titus 1:14). Rather than looking for spiritual life for combatting sin in the heart, such a man thinks that his rules will guard him from sin. But this is folly. Sanctification in behavior can only come from the regenerate, consecrated heart (Titus 1:15). Food and drink are not impure in themselves (cf. 1 Timothy 4:4). However, there is no such thing as food or drink that an unbeliever can “safely” consume. The filth of sin is coming out of his heart, not from his dish or cup (Titus 1:16). Even professing believers are susceptible to this (Titus 1:16a)!

O, dear believer, what we need is Christ! Therefore, if Christ says that what we need is sound doctrine, by which He works in us, then what we need is sound doctrine! And, if Christ says that He gives this sound doctrine by His duly ordained elders in the church, then what we need is duly ordained elders in the church! And if he warns that no one else should speak doctrine that contradicts them, then let no one speak doctrine that contradicts them! Let us not trust our own ideas, or our own rules. Such thinking surely comes from the flesh and the devil and will do us no good.

What are examples of manmade rules that people think have spiritual value? Where can you find the teaching of your church, in order to know what not to contradict? Whom are you trusting when you function this way in the church?

Sample prayer:  Lord, forgive us for when we are subordinate, contradicting the sound doctrine of the Scripture in the mouths of the teachers that You have given us. Forgive for when we speak idly of doctrinal matters, or invent rules that we think will have power against sin. Grant that we would humbly rest upon Christ alone as all of our spiritual hope, following His order for His own church, we ask through His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH172 “Speak, O Lord” 

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