Dealing with Danger
I didn’t grow up in the greatest neighborhood. Ex-convict neighbors and roving thugs on the daily. It wasn’t always like that—it changed over time. Place got more and more dangerous. Growing up, I got lessons on what to be mindful about.
On walks to the grocery store with my parents, I got to see by word and action, what to watch out for. “Watch out with groups gathering like that, doing nothing in the middle of the day” or “don’t stare with scared eyes”. Sometimes, just casually cross the street way in advance to not start up any issues. In today’s world, these actions might seem crude and presumptuous and, if based only on color, racist. Growing up, it was survival.
I’m reminded of Titus who was supposed to appoint elders but still needed to deal with the danger of false teachers.
Danger Is Rampant Even If There Are No Officers
Paul, after explaining the character and the qualifications for elders, the cop-like officers who would be on watch, explains who the dangerous people are to watch out for. Much like my mom pointing out a crowd of gathered shifty-eyed men, Paul gives some identifying markers to expose the danger of these false teachers (Titus 1:10-16).
Wrong Teachers Are Known By Their Dangerous Contradictory Deeds
- Empty-Talking Gospel Rebels: Their rebellious actions scream “I will NOT do that! You just want to oppress me!”. Their words have no real basis. That doesn’t mean that aren’t convincing. It means that whereas the good news has an infinite foundation, their words produce only eternal emptiness.
- Deceivers: Their teaching tricks people in such a way that the ramifications of the beliefs aren’t noticed until later.
- Dangerous to Families: Their teaching overturns entire families. The home is not only the target, but that the teaching is insidious. These people are coming near putting the very life of the assembly in danger.
- Doing Wrong For Gains: Those who contradict are teaching things they shouldn’t teach as their means for getting what they want. The teaching that should be taught for God’s gathered people is the one that comes from the faithful word. These people use whatever source for whatever desired reward—not just money.
Wrong Teachers Are Known By Their Dangerous Contradictory Doctrine
- Unsound Myth-Lovers: These people don’t have the right beliefs, so they have no real mooring. They pay attention to myths, back then it was especially Jewish myths. Today, the myths might be tied more to the culture. The ancient belief that cutting off skin gave you eternal salvation is just as mythical as the modern idea that our deepest sin is our racism.
- Human Commandment Believers: For this group, their mind is already morally impure so nothing can be pure for them. Back then, it might have been having an issue with certain foods as being less spiritual than others. In today’s world, it sometimes looks like centralizing sexuality so that love is defiled. This is all outworking of loving the commands of truth-hating people.
- Confessional Hypocrites: Paul summarizes all of this that these people are basically hypocrites. They say they know God but then prove in their word and action that they don’t know him at all. They are useless for any actual good deed.
We’re All On Duty to Deal with Doctrinal Danger
But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrineTitus 2:1
Titus isn’t an elder, he’s an apostolic emissary. He must measure his own words against sound doctrine. Titus must speak that sound doctrine. And Titus must shut people up by pointing to sound doctrine.
…rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faithTitus 1:13
And yet, Titus is leaving Crete once his co-workers show up!
The Elders Were Never the Frontline in Dealing with Danger of False Teachers: All Individuals of the Church Were
With Titus gone, that leaves the churches in Crete with the awareness that they are the frontline. Individuals are the ones who would hear the deception from the contradictors. Families are the ones that witness the inroad into their families. They must know what sound doctrine is.
This isn’t to say that a church does not need elders. It means that when danger rears its head, the first to see it will be the very sheep who are in danger.
The Local Church Must Commit to Sound Doctrine and Deeds
The local church in this pursuit of doctrine driven deeds, and knowing there are dangerous people around, are to avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, and worthless disputes. When the contradictors or false teachers show up, the church is to keep speaking sound doctrine, reprove the contradictors, avoid the foolish talk, warn and then ultimately reject the dangerous people.
You know, my parents weren’t around me forever. I eventually had to take the bus to get to school or take the train to get to the city. The lessons that they gave me now applied without them being there to protect me. I became the frontline and had a responsibility to be on watch.
Likewise in the assembly, each Christian as an individual who has covenanted with the rest of the assembly, are to be on watch. We should properly respect the office of elder but, in so doing, we shouldn’t forget the responsibility of the church.