How to Deal with False Teachers

Though Jesus is gentle and humble and calls us to Him to learn and be refreshed; He does not show Himself gentle toward those who change or add to the Law. He accused those teachers of causing His little ones to stumble, and blatantly said they ought rather to have a millstone hung around their necks and be thrown into the water to drown. Jesus did not tolerate the smallest amount of false teaching.

Neither did the Apostles.

Today we look into Titus 1:10-16; and as we do we will hear of Paul’s same attitude. There is no tolerance for even a slight tweak to sound doctrine, or towards those who are upsetting the faith of any true believer. There is no place in the True Church for “well, lets just see how this plays out.” The elder must be prepared to refute, he must silence false teachers, and he must be led by the Spirit to obey what is written here rather than attempting his own way of dealing with those who oppose sound doctrine. If you are just now joining us, the whole series can be pulled up here: Titus Study.

10 For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision.  They are rebellious, what does this say of their heart?  Of their actions?  Rebellion cannot be excused, it must be rebuked.   Empty talkers?  No weight to their words, meaningless in the ultimate sense, no promise of hope behind them.  Deceivers, following “their father” (see John 8:31-47).  How would Jesus speak to such?!  

11 who must be silenced because…   Silenced, not tolerated.  Not debated with.  No “agree to disagree” with something opposed to sound doctrine.  No “well he’s got most of the essentials right, even if he is selfish, cruel towards some, mocking others…its just his personality, accept it and move on!”  

One Reason Why

Because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.       Whole families?  Yes–early Christianity spread through families, small groups met DAILY in homes, sharing life.  Elders were to bring order and organize these families into a local body with elders in every city–but in the meantime, these men must be silenced.  As families are upset, whole groups will be led astray… Remember, we share in a common faith, when one of our members suffer, all suffer; this includes suffering from false doctrines impacting our faith.   Sordid gain?  Oh yes, the precursor to American elitism and prosperity gospel and celebrity mega church pastors.  

12  One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”    Paul is quoting one regarded as a prophet by many in the surrounding cultures. Both Donald Guthrie and John Stott tell of the source and nature of this statement. Paul recognizes that while there is truth found in worldly sources, yet it is not what God will use to build His Church. God invites people to believe and be changed while this statement condemns without hope of change.

13 This testimony is true.  For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith.   REPROVE!  Tell them their teaching is not helpful, is not from the Holy Spirit, is not what will produce the fruits of God’s Kingdom, nor will it produce any spiritual good. Be honest, these men need to know that following the world’s prophets is not how God will build His Church, spread His gospel, or usher people into His kingdom.

Severely.  No beating around the bush, no assuming they didn’t mean anything bad.  Did you hear what they said?  How can you offer the gospel to people you say such things about?  How can love without offering mercy and hope?  

How? 

Obviously, personally; with respect; speaking the truth in love; the error must be corrected–so this includes pointing out error, and speaking the truth–show the true doctrine from Scripture.  It will not be with anger or argument–as seen here

14 not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth.    Part of the goal of this reproof will be to steer away from things we tend to mix in with doctrine–each generation and culture has their own ways of binding the conscience–they used Jewish myth (especially the circumcision) and manmade laws.  The elder will not use myth or manmade doctrines to further the gospel, or to refute those leading others astray.

15  To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, both their mind and their conscience are defiled.  Pure: unmixed, not tainted by myth, deceit, opinion, works of righteousness (more on this when we get into chapter 3)… or as many American churches that are currently mixing in: Enlightenment philosophies, Naturalism, mysticism or New Age, and various political ideologies.

Inward Purity  

Like it or not, words like “pure”, “saint” and “godly” are used of Christians–these are not self-righteous terms, or terms to be redacted. The pure in heart shall see God.  Their eyes are set on Him alone. Others will judge, but they will continue to delight in their Rock and Redeemer and be inwardly renewed.

Or as James instructs: Purify your hearts, you double minded…purify, pure, not “yes and no” and not “yes, but also this other…”  No loving God and an idol, or loving God’s Word and adding other words to it…. Heart and mind go together–Western cultures try to pry them apart but Christians must not.

All things pure?  Having been cleansed and taught–spend some time this week meditating on Hebrews 9-10; all the shadows point to Christ the reality, Who alone purifies and cleanses our conscience to serve Him having turned away from dead works. All things are pure because of Him, our Purifier.  The pure have a distaste for what is not pure, they prefer the Word that is truly good. They grow in this, relying on God’s Spirit (1 John 2-5; 1 Corinthians 2).

Pure also indicates having the mind of Christ rather than a mind defiled (Phil 2 and Romans 12 being transformed by the renewing of your mind)…  Faith and repentance, not a defiled mind that leads to professing to know God but denying Him outwardly.  It is the inward that matters–Christ will have NO whitewashed tombs.  Luke 11, Matthew 23

In weeks to come we discuss and come to a fuller appreciation of this term, pure. Christ wants His bride pure, He is working toward that end and calls elders to protect the purity of the church. The elders must hold sound doctrine and refute opposition. Let us, brethren, love God’s Word, and His notion of purity, and His call to be cleansed by Him, pure in heart, eyes set on Him.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.

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