Brookdale Baptist
9.19.21 AM Service
      • Psalm 150ESV

  • The health of a church is tied directly to the health of its teaching ministry, and the health of its teaching ministry is tied directly to the teaching in the Bible. Consequently, the pastors and teachers in a church must devote themselves to repeating and explaining, emphasizing and applying what the Bible itself teaches and emphasizes.
    So, it shouldn’t surprise us that from the beginning of the church, wrong ideas, concepts, emphases, and teaching have cropped up in the church. Just as Satan crept into God’s original creation by spreading deceptive ideas to Adam and Eve, he’s been doing the same in the church. Only today he doesn’t speak through a snake but through people who claim to follow Christ, yet they embrace wrong ideas that contradict the gospel and undermine the message of God’s grace.

    Sometimes people spread harmful teaching within the church.

    For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers … (Titus 1:10)
    Paul directed Titus’s attention to this problem. He pointed out that certain kinds of people have a tendency pop up in new and growing churches.
    Many indicates that this problem is not unusual, it happens a lot.
    Insubordinate means something like “rebellious” and indicates that these are people within the church but push back against the teaching of Scripture in one way or another. They resist the authority of Scripture in their lives. They don’t just wander from the path, but they willfully break away.
    Idle talkers means their key talking points are nothing more than empty talk with no biblical substance. Ironically, this is how Jewish teachers described pagan people who worshipped idols. Their chants, recitations, songs, and speeches were nothing more than empty chatter. Even Jesus himself used this expression.
    Matthew 6:7 NKJV
    And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
    Like in the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes, when he paraded around the city thinking he was wearing royal new robes but had nothing on, these people in the church promote empty ideas as though they’re teaching rich truths.
    Deceivers means that even though the talking points of these people are useless, they’re also misleading. Their talking points seem compelling, fascinating, and insightful, just as Satan’s talking points did, even though they’re useless.
    A man visited my father’s church who promoted demon-exorcising (demons are behind all of our problems) as victorious Christian living and taught that we need to be saved and born again, not just one or the other and we need to learn how to identify different demons and cast them out.
    A man in NYC promoted the idea that you could lose your salvation and that you needed to move on to deeper levels of Christian maturity by speaking in tongues (unintelligible languages), casting out demons, and participating in healing services
    Men and women, the world over, promote the idea that if you give them lots of money (the more the better), they will pray for you to be healed, to get a job, and to become wealthy – that it is always God’s will for you to be healthy and wealthy, so whenever you suffer, it’s a sign that God is judging you.

    In the churches on Crete, people were spreading extrabiblical stories and rules.

    … especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth. (Titus 1:10-14)
    The new churches on the island of Crete experienced this problem. In particular, they were being affected by some former Jews who claimed to follow Jesus. However, they were teaching things in the church that contradicted the gospel and had no biblical basis.
    “Whose mouths must be stopped” is a polite translation. A more direct translation would be something like, “Put a muzzle on them,” or, “Stick a bridle in their throat.” Paul was like Jesus in this way – when he spoke about the problem of legalistic teachers, we spoke in a colorful, direct, and forceful way. Of course, Paul doesn’t mean that Titus should literally “muzzle” these people – or does he?
    “Who subvert whole households” means that when this teaching spreads, it has the potential to ruin entire households by either leading them astray into a wrong view of the Christian life or pushing relatives away from Christ entirely. Such teaching threatened to undermine the faith of entire families. This is what false teaching does – it creeps into the church and divides it. It infiltrates families within the church, bringing disillusionment and heartache in the end.
    “For the sake of dishonest gain” means that they were doing what a good pastor should not do – teach the church as means to get wealthy rather than teaching the church out of love for Christ and the church.
    1 Peter 5:2 NKJV
    Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly;
    How many best-selling “Christian” books (not all but many) are nothing more than some person’s attempt to accumulate wealth by peddling some unique “insight” or interpretation of the Bible, treating the Bible as secular financial, leadership, or relationship guide and nothing more.
    “One of them, a prophet of their own, said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’ This statement is true.” Paul quotes Epimenides, a highly respected philosopher from Crete. Ironically, this quotation is self-contradictory and somewhat humorous because if all Cretans are liars, then Epimenides himself was a liar. Yet Paul claims that Epimenides’ unflattering observation was actually true (in case you were wondering).
    By making this point, Paul is demonstrating that these professing believers in the church were “going back to their roots” prior to their profession of faith. They were lying, being reckless in the church, and attempting to gain wealth from the church with minimal effort. “To cretize” was an ancient description of someone who lied and cheated.
    “Therefore rebuke them sharply” assigns Titus the responsibility of confronting and exposing the wrongness of these teachers in an emphatic, forceful, even severe way rather than responding casually or tactfully. The deceptive, destructive nature of this teaching required swift and direct action – much like when a car is about to drive over an embankment or an airplane is about to fly into a cliff in a fog bank. This is no time for niceties but requires urgent intervention.
    “That they may be sound in the faith” gives us the purpose of this rebuke. Remarkably, the purpose Paul raises was not to win an argument, destroy someone’s reputation, or remove people from the church, but it was to persuade them to come back to a clear focus on the truth of the gospel. “May” indicates that this outcome is not guaranteed. Not everyone in the church who grabs onto harmful ideas can be restored, but some can!
    “Not giving heed to Jewish fables” (see also 2 Pet 1:16) most likely refers to fascinating but fictitious stories told by Jewish rabbis and passed down through Jewish oral tradition in order to “fill in the cracks” of actual biblical stories and “make connections” between various biblical teachings.
    2 Peter 1:16 NKJV
    For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
    “And [not giving heed to] commandments of men who turn from the truth” to teaching refers to laws and rules of conduct as a means of pleasing God which the Bible itself does not specify. Jesus taught against this vigorously (Matt 15:9; Mark 7:7), which was not new to him.
    Matthew 15:9 NKJV
    And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”
    Mark 7:7 NKJV
    And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
    He actually quoted from the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, when he confronted this problem (Isa 29:13).
    Isaiah 29:13 NKJV
    Therefore the Lord said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,
    Paul himself elaborated on this problem in a letter to the church at a city called Colosse (Col 2:20-23).
    Colossians 2:20–23 NKJV
    Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—“Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
    The problem here is requiring rules of conduct of believers as a means to being accepted by God and pleasing him. This contradicts the plain teaching of gospel by emphasizing humanly contrived codes of behavior rather than depending on the grace of God alone to live a genuinely moral, transformed life.

    A healthy church focuses on genuine, internal change that grace makes possible.

    To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work. (Titus 1:15-16)
    With this “punch line,” Paul highlights the kind of change that God’s grace accomplishes through the gospel. He does not teach that once you believe on Christ that everything in life becomes pure; he is not handing out a free license to sin. Instead, he is pointing out the simple gospel truth that if you have believed on Christ alone for salvation then you are clean and pure before God from the inside out. Period. Observing extra, additional man-made rules are not necessary to “finish the process” so to speak, nor can they improve your standing before God by a single degree.
    On the flip side, if you have not believed on Christ alone for salvation, then you are stained by sin before God from the inside out no matter how many careful rules and regulations you may follow. Proverbs 21:4 makes this very clear!
    Proverbs 21:4 NKJV
    A haughty look, a proud heart, And the plowing of the wicked are sin.
    Even the daily grind at work of a person separated from God is sin. Either the gospel has made you clean, or it has not. It doesn’t cleanse you a little and wait for you to do the rest.
    Those who live by grace should enjoy a clean conscience and pure heart, mind, and motives for God and live in a way that reflects that inner transformation. Those who attempt to please God by observing and pressing onto others man-made rules and regulations as a means to spiritual standing before God don’t actually experience the true inner purity that God’s grace provides. They live in a state of perpetual guilt, internal guilt instead as they attempt to make and follow the rules of men.
    Here are some examples of man-made rules and rituals that people follow in an attempt to earn favor with God which undermine the gospel for salvation:
    Infant baptism (as though only baptized infants will be accepted by God)
    Being baptized in order to be saved
    Participating in the mass, praying the rosary, etc.
    Observing the Lord’s Table to receive more grace from God
    Speaking in tongues or having some sort of “second blessing” experience
    Here are some examples of man-made rules or ideas that can creep into churches as means of being a more faithful, authentic Christian. To be really faithful, you should:
    Be a vegetarian
    Never mow the lawn on Sunday
    Not wear makeup as a woman
    Always wear a suit and tie to church as a man
    Always use a paper Bible and not an electronic one
    Support the critical race theory and intersectionality
    Get the vaccine
    Not get the vaccine
    There are far too many possible examples of such rules and ideas that creep into the church as a form of spirituality but are contradictory to the gospel. While some of these things (like being a vegetarian) aren’t necessarily wrong, they are not necessary or required by Scripture and are contrary to the gospel.
    That’s why Paul insisted that Titus correct these ideas when they come into churches so they wouldn’t turn people away from the grace of God, dividing families and drawing people away from the clear teaching Christ. We must also be aware when ideas like these creep into our own lives, families, and church. We should avoid teaching anything which replaces the genuine inner purity and morality (which grace supplies and Scripture teaches) with external manmade rules and rituals.
    Are there any such things in your own life today which you are teaching or elevating as biblical teaching? If so, then confess this to God and receive his forgiveness. Let us all keep a laser-like focus on the grace of God which transforms us from within as we depend on and follow Christ as Scripture teaches. May we draw ever more closely together as brothers and sisters in Christ to help each other avoid the pitfalls of useless talk, extrabiblical stories, and manmade commandments.
      • Matthew 6:7ESV

      • 1 Peter 5:2ESV

      • 2 Peter 1:16ESV

      • Matthew 15:9ESV

      • Mark 7:7ESV

      • Isaiah 29:13ESV

      • Colossians 2:20–23ESV

      • Proverbs 21:4ESV

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