In April of 2017 I began a journey to memorize the book of Titus. If you are interested in doing the same, or want to learn more about this endeavor, just click here for my original post with the 8-week plan to memorize Titus.
Each week, for 8 weeks, my goal is to write at least one post reflecting on the previous week’s verses. These posts will be a mixture of commentary on the passage, insights, reflections, and applications to my own life and to the lives of God’s people in general. These notes will be far from comprehensive, as a full sermon on the passage may be. Instead, my aim is simply to reflect on what the Lord is drawing my attention to and how He’s bringing His Word to bear on my life. I pray that these reflections on Titus would be profitable to you.
Week 3 — Titus 1:13 – 2:2
(13) This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, (14) not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. (15) To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. (16)They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. (2:1) But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. (2) Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.
As we jump into verse 13, we are jumping into the middle of a paragraph that began in v.10, focusing on these false teachers who are insubordinate and empty talkers and deceivers. After quoting one of their own Cretan prophets in v.12, Paul responds to that quote here in v.13 — This testimony is true. He then comments on what to do with these false teachers — Rebuke them sharply.
Paul does not sugarcoat what Titus’ response (and the response of the elders of the churches) should be to these false teachers. Already he’s mentioned the elder’s call to rebuke those who contradict the truth (v.9), as well as the need for those of the circumcision party to be silenced (v.11). Now, for the third time, Paul offers a strong word of response for what Titus must do — Rebuke them sharply.
Notice the reason for this strong rebuke. Paul does not tell Titus to rebuke these false teachers to make him look better, or to tear them down, or any such thing. Rather, the reason that he tells Titus to rebuke them sharply is that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. Paul’s goal for them was that they would come to see the error of what they were teaching and believing and come to see the truth as found in God’s Word and be sound in the faith. This should always be our motive for any sort of rebuke or confrontation. We must not rebuke in order to build ourselves up; rather, we rebuke in order to build the other person up. The goal of our rebuke is their repentance and growth in their “knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness” (v.1).
Paul continues the paragraph discussing these false believers. The picture is not pretty. Perhaps his strongest words for them are reserved until verse 16 — They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedience, unfit for any good work.
As chapter 1 ends, so ends his discussion about these false teachers (for now). He turns his attention back to Titus in verse 1 of chapter 2 — But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Do not be like these false teachers, Paul reminds Titus. Do not teach false doctrine. And do not let false doctrine slip by. Rather, appoint elders in each church so that they may help in this teaching and rebuking work of the pastor, and you, yourself, teach what accords with sound doctrine.
As pastors, elders, or teachers of any sort, Titus 2:1 should be a verse that we commit to memory, and one that we are willing to judge ourselves and our ministry by.
What follows, then, in verses 2-10 is a sort of household code, where Paul addresses older men, older women, younger men, younger women, and slaves. We will address these verses next week.
It is my experience that many Christians (and even many pastors and leaders) find themselves on one extreme or the other regarding the call to rebuke or correct. On the one end of the pendulum would be those that assert their authority and their superior knowledge about everything and just want to go around rebuking everyone for every single thing. This group needs to be reminded of the purpose that Paul gives here — that they may be sound in the faith — and approach that person with love and humility in order to accomplish this goal.
On the other end of the pendulum are those that want to show so much love and grace to everyone that they are never willing to call error for what it is. This group needs to be reminded of Paul’s strong words of response in these first 14 verses of the book of Titus — rebuke, silence, and rebuke sharply.
We must be willing to come to the center of the pendulum and speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15). If we leave one of those elements out, we will find ourselves landing on one extreme or the other, neither of which are biblical. We must be willing to call error for what it is, but always in love and humility, with the goal that they may be sound in the faith.
And above all, we must all make it the aim of our life and ministry to teach what accords with sound doctrine. Each of us should constantly be growing in our walk with the Lord, our knowledge of His Word, and our study of theology, so that we would be assured that we are teaching what accords with sound doctrine. I am reminded afresh of this call to be a continual learner and evaluator of my doctrine, theology, and teaching to be assured that it accords with the Word of God and sound doctrine. I pray that you would do the same.
What About You?
So that is how the Lord has been using these verse in my life this week. How about you? Are you memorizing the book? If so, what have been the biggest struggles or challenges? What ways have you found to overcome those challenges? And whether you’re memorizing the book, or just reading through it, how has the Lord been using the book of Titus to teach, reprove, correct, or train you in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16)? Comment below. I’d love to hear.