Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Empty talkers - Titus 1:10-16

"For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, 'Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.' This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. To 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. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed." (Titus 1:10-16)
The first doctrinal challenge of the early church was that of the Judaizers who contended that gentile believers must be circumscribed and keep the law of Moses to be saved. Later on would come the heresies of Valintinius, Marcion, and Simon. Paul warns the church of these threats, not by detailing their doctrinal differences, but by highlighting the moral and character differences between these false teachers and the true believers of Christ. Paul understood the words of Christ when He said, "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits." (Matthew 7:15-16) Paul describes such false teachers as being "unsubdued". They were men given to to their own pride; unwilling to yield in thought and obedience to the message of Christ as taught by the Apostles. Their pride was not only a danger to themselves but was also beginning to unsettle the faith of some. Teaching in the early church was not as it is today, where one teaches and all listen. Then, there was a multitude of teachers that taught house to house, some in submission to the truth, others in submission to their pride. It was part of Titus' responsibility to silence those who taught in their pride.

It is important to understand that the character and morality of these false teachers was not the result of their false teaching, but their false teaching was a result of their unconquered character and their abandonment of any since of morality in their lives. When we refuse to submit our lives to Christ and to the Truth, we open ourselves to deception and error; becoming the deceived and the deceivers of others. When our hearts are impure, everything we take in become impure. Even the truth, when received with a defiled heart, can become twisted into error through our pride and the unrepentant nature of our heart. We may confess all day long of our knowledge and relationship with Christ, and may even claim our teaching to be inspired by God, but the fruit of our lives tells the truth; that our words are false and that we are the deceived deceivers of others.

In the end, Titus is commanded by Paul to rebuke them "sharply", possibly a satirical reference to their doctrine of the necessity of circumcision as it means to rebuke in a manner to "cut off" or "cut away." Paul's fervent warning to them, and to us, is to avoid mixture in our faith; mixing the superstitious fables of other religions or the prideful doctrines of self-styled teachers with the sure word of Jesus. The Kingdom of God is not to be compared to the religions of the world, nor to the imaginations of men. The Kingdom of God is wholly different. Its origins are not earthly and its teachings are from above. It is to this Kingdom that we should direct our hope and from it to receive our faith. If we desire the knowledge of God we must not look down, or even inward, but upward towards God who Himself enlightens every heart as we must receive with gratitude His message which He sent in His Son Jesus Christ.

David Robison

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