A. For there are many insubordinate, both idle
talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose
mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things
which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. One of them, a
prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars,
evil beasts, lazy gluttons." This testimony is true. Therefore
rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not giving
heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the
truth. To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled
and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience
are defiled. They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him,
being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.
A. Verse 5: Paul left Titus in Crete to “set
in order the things that are lacking and to appoint elders in every
B. Verses 5-8: Paul sets forth the character
requirements of those who would serve as elders in the local church.
C. Verse 9: the primary job description of an
1.. . . holding fast the faithful word as he has
been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort
and convict those who contradict. (Tit. 1:9)
a) Knowledge of the Scriptures – having
b) Faithful – “holding fast”
c) High view of Scripture – “the
3. Abilities – “that he may be able”
a) Exhort – come alongside and encourage to
travel in the right direction
b) Convict – oppose and correct those who
“speak against” the truths of Scripture
(1) Unbelievers – concerning salvation
(2) Believers – sanctification, how to live
and grow in godliness
c) To resist . . . those who contradict
(1) The ongoing historical attack on the truths of
(2) By sound doctrine, literally “through
the use of healthy, well-grounded teaching”
D. Verses 10-16 – Paul now describes in more
detail those who speak against Scripture.
1. Motives – what is it that fuels the
destructive things that they do?
2. Characteristics – how can they be
3. Their core problem – what causes them to
distort the truths of God?
A. Titus 1:10-11 For there are many
insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of
the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole
households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of
1. Two primary
opponents of Christianity and Christian growth: idle talkers and
2. FIRST: Idle talkers
a) Mataiologos –
speech contains “that which is ineffectual, idle
b) Lacking in
substance, easy to raise questions and spawn doubt without doing any
real work in the Scriptures.
c) May seem sincere,
but often only an external show of understanding.
d) Unwilling (and
unable) to do the work of serious study and interaction.
e) Love debate for the
sake of debate.
(1) Paul also warned
Timothy concerning these individuals who are, “always learning
and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2Ti.
(2) The truth under
discussion is not the real issue, rather than “being right”
(a) When their
speculation or opposition is addressed, they simply shift their
opposition to some other topic.
(b) Ministering to
these is much like “tilting at windmills.”
(3) Elders must bear in
mind: these are used of Satan to interfere with Christian progress
primarily through distraction.
(4) Love blogs, online
forums, and discussions – where they are unwittingly granted a
platform which they would never obtain in a live fellowship.
f) Insubordinate -
(1) “not under
(2) Unwilling to
recognize God-given authority
(a) Scriptures –
subvert the clear teachings of the Bible by twisting interpretation
(b) Elders – most
frequently operating outside of the established local church
3. SECOND: deceivers
– to “deceive the mind”, subvert understanding,
insight, reasonable thinking
b) More dangerous: why?
(1) Intentional and
willful in their distortion of the truth.
(2) These will go to
great lengths and exert enormous effort to further their aberrant
(3) Often an apparent
sincerity – because they are deceived themselves
(a) “But evil men
and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being
deceived” (2Ti. 3:13)
(b) The most convincing
error is a fully-believed error.
(c) The apparent
sincerity of a messenger is not a reliable measure of the truth of
those of the circumcision”
a) Jews – the
primary opponents of the gospel at the inception of the Church
(1) The NT canon was
not yet complete.
(2) The assumed experts
in understanding the OT were the Jews.
(3) But, as Paul's life
itself clearly demonstrated and Jesus told Nicodemus, a correct
understanding of the Scriptures requires a spiritual birth (John
b) A spiritual
principle discernible in history and in our own day: having had great
revelation, rejection of that revelation leads to great darkness.
(1) Jesus said, “And
that servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself
or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes,
shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from
him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed,
of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12:47-48)
(2) Such has been the
case of those Jews who rejected their Messiah – the light of
Torah has turned into obscurity.
(a) Concerning his
fellow Jews, Paul wrote to the church at Corinth: But their minds
were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in
the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken
away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies
on their heart. (2Cor. 3:14-15)
(b) One need but read
the study notes on key passages in the OT found in the modern Jewish
Study Bible to see evidence of this sad reality. The experts in the
Jewish Law remain unable to see their own Messiah therein.
5. Motivation –
advantage or privilege” - whatever elevates the individual
through inappropriate, ungodly means
b) In some cases,
c) In other cases, to
gain a following.
(1) Paul warned the
elders at the church at Ephesus “For I know this, that after
my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the
flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking
perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves”
d) Fruit of “the
power of pride.”
e) Motivation other
than obedience to Christ or a desire to see God's will come to pass
in the lives of believers and in the world.
6. The preserving work
of ministry will include opposition and conflict.
must be stopped, who subvert whole households” (Tit. 1:11)
(1) It is not
sufficient simply to point to the truth – we must also confront
and expose error.
b) Our opposition to
idle talkers and deceivers has a two-fold purpose
(1) FIRSTLY: to try and
bring them to the truth with patience.
(a). . . a servant of
the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach,
patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God
perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,
and that they may come to their senses and escape the
snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his
will. (2Ti. 2:24-26)
(2) SECONDLY: on behalf
of those who are watching and listening
(a) Majority of the
time – those we are primarily interacting with will not
respond to our exhortation or conviction.
(b) But, their attack
upon foundational truths of God adversely affects others –
they, “subvert whole households”
(3) We minister in
three primary directions
(a) To those who oppose
the truth: in hope they will find repentance and accept correction.
(b) To those who are on
the sidelines watching and listening: to help them resist the
negative influence of the opponents of Scripture.
(c) To God: we minister
God's truth regardless of its response. Our faithfulness regardless
of reception is a living expression of devotion and worship.
B. Titus 1:12-14 One
of them, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are
always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." This testimony is
true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the
faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who
turn from the truth.
1. “a prophet of
a) The “prophet”
mentioned here is Epimenides, a revered poet and reformer who died in
the fifth century B.C.
(1) Not a true inspired
prophet of God, but one who was widely believed to be a religious
prophet by the Cretans themselves.
b) The same testimony
concerning Cretans is found in other pagan writings, suggesting a
c) “To Cretanize”
meant “to lie” in ancient Greek literature.
d) “Lazy gluttons” is the translation
of a phrase which may be rendered “unemployed stomachs,”
a reference to those who wish to eat without working to earn their
living (cf. 2 Th. 3:10).
2. Jewish fables
is a word from which we derive the word “myths” (muthois)
b) Example of what Paul
might be concerned with in our own day – Kabbalah
originally developed entirely within the realm of Jewish thought and
constantly uses classical Jewish sources to explain and demonstrate
its esoteric teachings. These teachings are thus held by
kabbalists to define the inner meaning of . . . the Tanakh
(2) Claims to originate
in the authority of Scripture, but quickly departs from foundational
truths to embrace deception.
(3) Followers are drawn
by esoteric and imagined “deeper truths” beyond the
surface of the written word.
c) Unstable spiritual
mystics, always seeking deeper enlightenment groping in the dark
(1) Continually defers
the difficult part of spirituality – application and obedience
– to be forever put off by uncertainty and chasing after more.
d) The witness of the
gospel is also at stake – to the degree Christians uncritically
embrace fables and myths, they also discredit valid historical events
such as the virgin birth and resurrection in the eyes of observers.
3. Commandments of men
who turn from the truth
a) Schemes for
appeasing God which have the appearance of godliness, but which
undermine the freedom and original intent of God's truth.
(1) Commands which
place greater emphasis on appearance and practice than the internal
motives of the heart – which are God's ultimate concern.
(2) Jesus to the
scribes and Pharisees: Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about
you, saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And
honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the
commandments of men.' (Mat. 15:7-9)
c) Seductive Appearance
(1) These things indeed
have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false
humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against
the indulgence of the flesh. (Col. 2:23)
(2) Self-imposed –
not from God
(3) Imposition of
man-made burdens in place of the freedom found in God's truth.
(4) Having begun our
walk in God by the Spirit, we must not seek spiritual completion
through religious works (Gal. 3:3)
(5) Paul told the
Colossian believers that self-imposed religion is of “no value
against the indulgence of the flesh”
(a) Those who teach and
follow such commandments generally fall prey to sinful behavior
because legalism serves to excite the flesh (Rom. 7:8-9)
C. Titus 1:15-16 To
the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and
unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are
defiled. They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being
abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.
1. Paul explains why
the idle talkers and deceivers will always pervert God's truth.
a) Why? Because their
very mind and conscience are defiled.
b) They are motivated
from a defiled core – unable to handle purity without defiling
it in the process.
c) Even that which is
pure will wind up being defiled by their perversity – twisted
to support their own rejection of God’s commands.
d) The most wholesome
relationships in scripture will be distorted in support of their own
(1) The relationship
between David and Sauls' son Jonathan.
(a) A website run
by Christian homosexuals asks the question, “Did God bless
David and Jonathan, a same sex couple, in romantic, committed, sexual
partnership? The Bible devotes more chapters to their love story than
any other human love story in the Bible. What does God intend us to
learn from that dramatic emphasis? . . . If Jonathan and David
did enjoy a romantic sexual relationship, the Old Testament book of 1
Samuel presents interesting challenges and immense opportunities for
twenty-first century Christians. . . . Is it possible that God so
carefully preserved the David and Jonathan story in scripture to
encourage the church to welcome saved gays and lesbians as equal
members in the body of Christ? I believe this was precisely God's
(b) These same teachers go on to suggest the Bible
condones the gay lifestyle through several additional homosexual
relationships that are supposedly found therein, including that of
Ruth and Naomi in the book of Ruth.
(2) The virgin birth –
denied by liberal Christians.
(a) “Most people
do not literalize the story of Santa Claus. He is a symbol--a
powerful symbol, but still just a symbol. I suggest that the birth
narratives of Jesus, too, cannot be taken literally. They, too, are
symbols, a religious version of Santa Claus. . . . Provocatively
enough, and quite rare in the ancient world, Matthew adds four women
to this lengthy genealogy-- all of whom are sexually tainted in the
stories about them in the Hebrew Scriptures. . . One wonders what he
means to imply about Mary, who is the fifth woman mentioned in his
relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
2. “They profess
to know God, but in works they deny Him”
(1) Profess to know
God, but referred to as “unbelieving” - without faith.
(a) This is what
Scriptures means by “deceiving and being deceived” -
these teachers actually believe they are followers of Christ, even
taking His name upon themselves.
(2) How do those
describe themselves who teach that the Bible condones homosexuality
by the example of several loving gay relationships found in its
(a) “We are a joyful global fellowship of
born again gay and straight Christians on the path of life together.
We are authentic Bible-believers, swimming against the tide of
Bible rejecting theological liberalism, upholding the truth of
God's inerrant, infallible word.”
(3) Where did the ideas
originate implying the virgin birth was illegitimate?
series is drawn in part from Spong's book 'Born of a Woman: A Bishop
Rethinks the Virgin Birth and the Oppression of Women in a Male
Dominated Church’.” John
Shelby Spong is the retired American bishop
of the Episcopal Church
Diocese of Newark, NJ – another who “professes to know
b)How do their works deny Him?
is the opposite of “profess” (homologeō)
(2)Their words witness to Christ, but
their actions disregard Him.
is warning us: don't listen to what they say,
look at what they do!
(4) They live in ways
which deny the plain teachings of Scripture – for example by
condoning and continuing to practice homosexuality.
(a) Jesus said that
their fruit would reveal their true standing in relation to
God “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's
clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them
by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from
thistles? . . . Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Not
everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of
heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many
will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in
Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in
Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you;
depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' (Mat.
(5) Paul inform us that
these are not just “denying Scripture” but “denying
c) Disqualified and
rejected by God: abominable, disobedient, disqualified for every good
condemnation, inspired by the Holy Spirit, could hardly be stronger!
(2) Abominable –
presently viewed as “detested, horrid ones” by God.
(3) Disobedient –
ones who cannot be persuaded (apeitheis) into
(a) Not just disobeying
God, but intractably opposed to His truth on the issues involved.
(a) They believe they
are serving God, even professing Him, but His evaluation is that they
are disqualified for every good work.
(b) Disqualified ones
(adokimoi) means “proven false,” “failing to
meet the test,” “rejected.”
IV. Points of Application
A. FIRST: Elders must able to exhort and
convict those who contradict – through a proper knowledge and
application of the Scriptures, primarily by teaching.
B. SECOND: Elders must be willing to
proactively oppose error when necessary. “Mouths must be
stopped” or “whole households” will be “subverted.”
1. To the degree we refuse to take up the mantel
of Godly confrontation where called for, we unwittingly facilitate
the spiritual subversion of those whom Christ died for.
C. THIRD: Don't be fooled by the teaching of
Christians whose actions deny clear Biblical principles.
1. The Holy Spirit has revealed that these are
among those to whom Jesus will say, “I never knew you”
2. Paul tells Titus they are abhorred by God and
their works are disqualified.
3. They are not among God’s elect – no
matter how vociferously they assert otherwise.
D. FOURTH: As believers, we seek to remain pure in
mind and conscience – less we fall into a similar
self-deception as these ones Paul warns about.
1. This necessarily requires some degree of
separation from the culture which is intractably opposed to God.
a) Friendship with the world is enmity with God
(John. 15:19; Jas. 4:4; 1Jn. 2:15-16)
b) We are “in the world,” but dare not
be “of the world.” (John 17:15)
2. The gradual pollution of one's mind and
conscience can be a very subtle matter.
a) Like us, those Paul warns Titus about profess
themselves to be believers.
b) How did they arrive in their predicament? Could
the same happen to us?
c) This is why we must continually abide in His
Word, immersed in truth as defined by Scripture (John 8:31).