Beware of False Teachers
Copyright © 1986, Indian Hills Community Church, Lincoln, Nebraska
The following text is taken from a sermon preached by Gil Rugh, Senior Pastor at Indian Hills Community Church in Lincoln, NE. The text has been edited and condensed by IHCC staff for use as a Bible Study aid.
Paul has reminded Titus why he was left in Crete. One of his responsibilities was to appoint elders in every city. These were men who had to meet the biblical qualifications that are set down in verses 6-9.
Paul continues this theme by demonstrating the importance of having godly men leading the churches of Crete. The presence of false teachers was causing real problems among believers and was a danger to the health of the churches that had been established there.
"For" connects this closely to what he has just said about elders, especially his comments in verse 9. He proceeds to describe the false teachers who need to be refuted.
"Many" indicates that this is a widespread problem and not just an isolated case. There are many who are opposing the truth.
"Rebellious men" - It is important to note that these men are those who are unwilling to submit to authority. This word was used of rebellious children in verse 6.
These men are not submissive to the authority of God's Word or to the leadership that He has established for His Church.
"Empty talkers" - They may be fluent and pleasing in their speech, but it is empty and accomplishes nothing (cf. 2 Tim. 4:3,4).
"Deceivers" - They are involved in misleading others.
"Especially those of the circumcision" - While this description fits all false teachers, it is particularly applicable in Crete to those of Jewish background.
Paul's ministry was plagued by Judaizers. These were Jews who professed faith in Christ, but attempted to wed the truth of Christianity with the Law and other Jewish ideas.
This is the same group that Paul mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:3-11. The Book of Galatians was written to combat their error as well as other portions of Paul's letters (cf. Col. 3:16-23).
We should note that characteristically these false teachers will claim to be believers. Also, they take the truth and mix it with error, which makes it confusing to the unlearned and untaught.
Paul says these false teachers must be "silenced." The way they can be silenced was mentioned in verse 9:
This is why the elder must be one who is "holding fast the faithful word" (v. 9).
"Because they are upsetting whole families" - This is the reason they must be silenced and not allowed to continue. There is no freedom given in the Word of God for men to teach whatever they want. The church is to be the "pillar and support of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15).
Whole households are being overthrown or destroyed by this false teaching. This is similar to what Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:6. There, women are influenced by false teachers with disastrous results. Satan began in the Garden with the woman and that is often the way he works today.
"For the sake of sordid gain" - The basic motivation of these false teachers is money. They are anxious to get rich at the expense of destroying others. Elders cannot have this characteristic (cf. Titus 1:7).
The people of Crete had one of the worst reputations of any people in the ancient world. Even Epimenides (c. 600 B.C.) - one that they respected as a prophet - had described them as a wretched people.
"Always liars" - To speak like a Cretan meant to lie or deceive.
"Evil beasts" - refers to the fact that they were rude, cruel, and brutal.
"Lazy gluttons" - "slow bellies" is the King James translation - which is accurate, but not quite as intelligible.
This was the evaluation of one of their own respected religious leaders.
Paul says this evaluation is true! It was not an exaggeration. Because of this, these false teachers must be dealt with firmly.
"Reprove them" - This is the same word used in verse 9 and translates "refute." They are to be rebuked or corrected.
"Severely" - This word means "sharply, harshly." There must be a firm and decisive response to the false teaching that is going on in Crete. This becomes personal because it is the false teachers themselves who are to be reproved severely.
"That they may be sound in the faith" - This stern response has a beneficial purpose. He desires them to be healthy in the faith.
Being healthy in the faith means you avoid and don't pay attention to the false teaching. This is much-needed admonition today when many believers are allowing themselves to be influenced by teaching that is contrary to the Word of God. Colossians 2:16-23 and 1 Timothy 1:3-11 should be compared to this verse.
This verse is sometimes removed from its context and made to support various kinds of improper conduct.
Paul is talking in the context of Judaizers who would make the observance of laws regarding food and drink a necessary part of submission to God.
The point is that these externals do not make a person pure or impure (cf. Mark 7:14,15; 18-23; Rom. 14:14,20; 1 Tim. 4:1-4). The problem is not external - one of defilement through food - but internal.
It is not the impure thing which makes men impure, as the Jews erroneously held, but it is impure men who make every pure thing impure, a truth foreshadowed in Haggai 2:13.
Pure men are those who have been cleansed from their guilt by the blood of Christ.
This verse ought to be studied by all those who keep saying, "Judge not lest you be judged."
These false teachers claimed to know God, and yet their deeds showed them to be liars. These Jews (v. 10) prided themselves on being those who had a special relationship with God.
Salvation is by grace through faith. Our works testify as to whether our salvation is real or not (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph, 2:8-10).
"Worthless" (adokimos) - failing to meet the test and so worthless or unfit. The unbeliever is unfit for any good work (cf. Rom. 3:12).
The believer, in contrast, is one who is "adequate, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:17). Only those works that flow from a cleansed heart and out of a dependence upon God are acceptable to Him.
This section serves as a strong warning concerning the danger of false teachers. They must be silenced, and it falls to the elders to lead the way in maintaining the purity of the body.
We are all responsible to avoid false teaching and pay no attention to it. This also means not subjecting yourself to false teaching on the TV.
The deeds of these men show them as disapproved by God for service to Him.
What does your life say about you? Are your deeds acceptable to Him? Are you indeed a pure person, cleansed by faith in the finished work of Christ? Only then can your life be pleasing to Him.
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, © Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977. All quotations used by permission.
Permission was received from Indian Hills Community Church for the posting of this file on Bible Bulletin Board. Our gratitude to the Holy Spirit for leading Pastor Gil Rugh to preach/teach messages that are bold, and doctrinally sound—they are so needful to this generation.
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