This series, The Role of the Pastor, comes from a study that we’ve been doing on Wednesday nights at Second Baptist Church in Warner Robins, GA.
Last time I wrote about how a pastor is to lead the people. In this post, we’ll cover how a pastor is to protect the people. Now remember, this is not a series on the qualifications of a pastor. Those are spelled out very clearly in the pastoral epistles. This is a series about the function of the pastor or the job of the pastor.
Titus 1:10-13 says, “For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, 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 arealways liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith…”
Remember, the Bible portrays the pastor as a shepherd. And part of the shepherd’s job is to protect the sheep. From what? From “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” In other words, from false teachers. The enemy is sneaky and he knows how to deceive. The most dangerous lie is one that has just enough truth to make it believable. And the best way to be protected from false teaching is to learn the truth. That’s why it’s so important that we preach, teach, learn and live the Bible!
1. Who they are: 10-12
It did not take long for false teachers to arise in the early church. Wherever God sows the truth, Satan quickly shows up to sow lies. Paul says here, “there are many…” Anytime God is at work the enemy will try and infiltrate the ranks. And the greatest dangers we face are from inside the church, not from outside the church. How do you know if someone is a wolf in sheep’s clothing? How do you know if a teacher should be followed or confronted? In this text, there are several characteristics of those who oppose the truth…
a) They are unwilling to submit to authority: 10
“For there are many who are insubordinate…” “Rebellious” would be a good translation. It refers to teachers who will not put themselves under authority. Beware of men such as this. Our ultimate authority is always the Word of God.
They were “idle talkers.” What they said impressed people, but it had no content or substance. When you “boiled it down,” it was just so much hot air; they excelled in talking, not in doing. If a pastor talks more about himself than Jesus…you’ve got a problem!
There are “deceivers” out there who lead people astray by their false doctrines. And sadly, many of them have their own TV show. Paul is referring here to those of the “circumcision party.” These were Jews within the church who were trying to impose Old Testament standards and traditions. They deceived people into believing that even though Christ had ushered in the era of grace, they must still fulfill the law.
b) They are unconcerned about others: 11
They didn’t care about others. Their practice was to deceive. While true shepherds have a great concern for the flock, false teachers only have concern for themselves. They were in it for themselves, “teaching for dishonest gain.” You know what these false teachers were? They were celebrities, not servants. They lived it up at the expense of their followers.
Paul told Titus that a true elder is not “greedy for money” but these false teachers are in it for “dishonest gain.” And they would “subvert whole households” in the process. That’s what doctrinal error will do; it divides families, friends and churches.
c) They are unfaithful to pure doctrine: 12-14
Do you see how false teachers “turn from the truth?” They have no concern for pure doctrine. Their only commitment is to themselves, their fame and their fortune.
Crete was known throughout the entire ancient world for being an incredibly immoral place. They probably had a slogan that went something like this: “What happens in Crete, stays in Crete.” Paul doesn’t personally criticize the Cretans for their morals. Instead, he lets another Cretan do it. “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” But then, Paul affirms this statement, “this testimony is true.” And all of this carnal and worldly living came from a basic denial of truth and pure doctrine. That’s what happens when doctrine doesn’t matter; morality deteriorates.
2. What they need: 11b, 13
It’s important that we identify false teachers, but what must be done once they are detected. How is a pastor to protect his flock?
a) They need to be rebuked: 11b
After you recognize and identify false teachers, it’s important to rebuke them. Notice two important phrases here. Verse 11 begins by saying, “Whose mouths must be stopped…” You don’t negotiate with false teachers; you silence them. You don’t stand by and let them take over; you confront the situation and take care of business. The only weapon against Satan’s lies is God’s truth.
Notice another phrase in verse 13, “rebuke them sharply…” Confront those who teach false doctrine and rebuke them sharply. The idea is one of urgency. This is no small or trivial matter—it is an urgent situation.
b) They need to be restored: 13b
Notice that phrase at the end of verse 13. “That they may be sound in the faith.” Why do we rebuke false teachers? We rebuke them in the hopes that we can restore them. That’s the goal…but sadly, it doesn’t happen very often.
The word “sound” there gives the idea of being healthy and strong in doctrine. It is sound and healthy doctrine that brings stability and strength to the church of God. We must know the truth so we can confront others when they speak that which is not truth and bring them back to the truth whenever possible. This is why it’s so important for us to know the Word!