SOUND DOCTRINE: PART ONE
LOVE THE SHEEP
All leaders at some point have to make tough decisions, it’s part of being a leader. Likewise, God calls pastors to lead, feed, and protect the flock He has entrusted to their care. That means when the time comes for a pastor to make a tough decision he must be ready to stand up and make the decisions necessary to lead God’s people in the way God intends for them to be led.
This is exactly what Paul tasks Titus with in his letter to him. Paul had recently completed a journey to Crete resulting in churches being planted. Upon leaving, Paul had left Titus in charge of this network of church plants to help establish and oversee. Throughout history the Cretans had been known as traders, mercenary soldiers, and pathological liars. The Cretans loved that their god Zeus was a womanizer and liar. They celebrated his underhandedness and sought to embody his shady way of living.
At the time Paul was writing to Titus there had been major cultural blending and much compromise which gave rise to false teachers finding their way in the churches Paul had planted. Titus was tasked with having some tough conversations. Leaders, we have to care and defend those who are being preyed upon. The job of any pastor is to love and care for the sheep God has placed under his care. In a day where tolerance is valued more than human life it’s becoming wildly unpopular to step up to what Paul calls Titus to do.
REBUKE THE FALSE TEACHER
Paul’s threefold task to Titus is simple; rebuke them (1:9), rebuke them sharply (1:13), and rebuke them with all authority (2:15). It’s time for Titus to gird his loins, put on his cup, and setup to the plate and swing for the fences. False teachers were ravaging the church like a pack of wolves; deceiving Christians, corrupting whole households, manipulating people out of their money, and leading people way from the gospel. The gospel was at stake and Titus was charged with protecting God’s people from error.
What we have to understand is that these false teachers were people in the church, friends of the members of the church. Like today, it probably wasn’t very popular to tell the guy everyone likes to stop teaching his ‘good intended’ heresy. False teachers were not some weird sketchy dudes at the local park luring kids in with candy. Some were probably church members, or former church members who others in the church respected to some degree, or were friendly towards. This makes Titus’ task hard. He is to rebuke the people that everyone likes, but doesn’t realize are evil, because they have let them into their house and now are being lead away from Jesus. Titus’ task is to honor God, not please man. He is not called to take the path of least resistance and social acceptance, he’s called to take the path that honors God.
SATAN IS A LIAR AND HE HATES YOUR CHURCH
Satan, the father of lies and author of deception, will send people (who are often unaware) into churches to deceive and lead people away from the truth of the gospel. These people are often not submissive to spiritual authority, say things that don’t make sense and contradict the Bible, and begin to gain influence among members of the church. This happens all the time in churches and it’s almost never the weird creepy guy leading the movement. It’s usually the guy who everyone likes, who seems intelligent and knows just enough of the Bible to harm people. He’s like a kid playing with a loaded gun, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.
False teachers hurt people, sometimes unintentionally, but Paul tells Titus they “must be silenced.” Paul says these people profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. This means what we believe should form our behavior and our lives. Those who’s lives habitually contradict the word of God should not be the first in line to help us with Godly decision making. Watch out for the guy who reads a lot of the Bible but never practices any of it. Or the guy who says he loves Jesus, but is trying to convince people not to go church, but to come to his ‘bible study.’
Paul's goal for Titus in rebuking the false teachers is that they’d believe sound doctrine and think rightly about Jesus and the gospel. Paul is not telling Titus to just rebuke people he doesn't agree with, but rather those who contradict sound doctrine. We live in a day where no one wants to offend anyone, and if you tell anyone they are wrong, you’re labelled a bully. Pastors and church leaders ought to take some queues from Paul and Titus and stand up for sound doctrine and love your people by defending it.
So what exactly is sound doctrine? Our next post will explore what constitutes close handed beliefs that all Christians should believe and defend.