Titus 3.10-11 – Leave Alone

At the end of this big passage wherein Paul is preparing Titus to lead and teach the people (3.1-11), we now see the advice given when Titus comes across a person who stirs up division.

As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Titus 3.10-11

We see that Titus is to have patience with those who seek to stir up division (…warning him once and then twice…), but eventually the course of action taken against those who are going their own way or insisting on their own way within the community of God’s people is to have nothing more to do with him. The true punishment is being self-condemned, having lived a life totally inconsistent with everything Paul has taught Titus to teach. 

We don’t go out of our way to disrupt the false teaching ways of those who stir up division by leaving the Orthodox and well-beaten path, we simply leave them alone and have nothing more to do with him

This can seem counter-logical to us as people of action; that person is making problems within the church family so I must do something, but, on the contrary, the stronger punishment (and the model employed by the Lord in Romans 1.24-25) is actually just to leave people alone. People cannot stir up division if they are ignored, left alone, or by themselves. 

This might seem like a harsh word to effectively close the teaching portion of his letter on, but, Paul is charging Titus with the care of God’s people, a heavy responsibility. Titus is there to feed the sheep, not hunt the wolves. 

For you and for me, we would do well to take this principle and apply it to our own lives; when we disagree, when someone has a proven record of stirring up division, when someone is obviously teaching falsely, we are not to go out of our way to attack them, simply guide what the Lord has given you to guide. Protect your people from error, yes, feed them what accords with sound doctrine, yes, but leave alone the rest.  

Titus 3.8-9 – A Solid Platform

The poem found in 3.4-7 lays out for us the foundational Christian truth that really, God has done and provided everything so that we can have everything. Today, Paul reinforces this and encourages Titus to platform his teaching on this, and for good reason…

The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.

Titus 3.8-9

These things seems to refer back to the truths found in vv.4-7, simply that God has provided everything we need for salvation. Paul insists that his young charge platform his teaching on this so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. This is not Paul going against salvation by faith alone, rather, saying look, now that you are saved by faith alone (so that those who have believed in God), this is how you show it (may be careful to devote themselves to good works).

This needs to be the focus of our teaching in churches and this needs to be the foundation for our individual Christian lives: our conduct demonstrates what we believe and have received. I read recently that faith alone saves, but faith that saves is never alone! Our theology is grace-based, our ethic is gratitude-in-action.

Paul goes on to say that we are to stay away from secondary and non-essential issues in the main teaching time of the church (remember the context, Paul is writing to Titus as the Pastor of this new church). Foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law can, in some contexts and settings, prove very interesting, thought provoking, and useful, but as the steady diet of the assembled church, a Christ-centered, God-honoring, Spirit-empowered teaching time is a must.

Really simply for you and for me, Titus 3.8-9 teaches us that the main thing must remain the main thing. Titus was left in Crete to put things in order and to build up the saints for the work of ministry (1.5 cf. Ephesians 4.10-12) and teaching sound doctrine, based on the truths of 3.4-7 is a great start.

2 Timothy 2.14 – Nobody Cares What You Think

14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.

Paul continues his instruction and encouragement to Pastor Timothy by telling him, basically, that you need to keep the main thing as the main thing.

He writes that Timothy is to remind them of these thingsthese being the core tenets of the Gospel in vv.8-13.

When the church gathers, when God’s people assemble together, it is the Word of God that must be first and foremost. The Gospel message of reconciliation to God through remission of sins through faith in Jesus must be present above and beyond everything else. These things must be more important than quarrelling about words, which Paul says is good for nothing and eventually leads to ruining the hearers.

Just pause and think – when you go to church, what do you want to hear?

You don’t want to hear a guy stand up and tell you everything he thinks about how you should live.

You don’t want to hear someone read the Bible then proceed to tell you everything they think about it.

You don’t want to be entertained but not equipped for life.

You want to go to church and be filled and fed by the Word of God.

You want to go to church and leave just a little bit firmer in your faith.

The truth of Jesus and the Word of God must be central for this to happen.

Romans 10.17 tells us that faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ. Here preached word means what it says, the preached word about and of God, of His Christ Jesus, and of the Holy Spirit.

So, Pastor, growth-group leader, kids church teacher, counsellor, Christian, nobody is that interested in what you think on any given subject. Perhaps, maybe, sometimes, people might ask for your opinions about secondary things. However, first and foremost, where you have the profound privilege of speaking into people’s lives, do so with these things, do so with the Gospel, do so with the Word of God. 

1 Timothy 4.11-16 – As for Timothy, As for You…

We’ve said before that 1 Timothy was written to the new Pastor, Timothy, with instructions on how the church should be run and structured. But does that mean that the personal qualities that your Pastor possesses are only for him to have, and nobody else in church should be displaying them?

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

We see some pastoral prerequisites that we should all really be taking to heart;

Command and teach these things – the teachings and truths of Jesus (3.16) are to be incontrovertible in the life of the Pastor, in the life of the church, and in your life too.

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in… – if Timothy was God’s man for that church, then his age was irrelevant.

As for Timothy, as for you;

if God wants you to do something for Him, you are never too young or too old. 

Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching – we should all be constantly evaluating ourselves in light of the teachings and truths of Jesus, and asking the Holy Spirit to work in us to change what needs to be changed.

The teaching here refers to the full counsel of God’s Word, all that is taught about Jesus, all that refers to Jesus, all that guides us to Jesus. The main job of the Pastor in your church is to present the teaching, the doctrine, the truths of the Word of God. We should all, today and every day, seek to live in the light of the teaching, and each of us should be concerned with both ourselves and our Christian brothers and sisters. 

Charles Spurgeon told this story whilst preaching on a Sunday evening, the 19th of June, 1870,

I have been thinking while I have been preaching to you, this evening, of my own self awhile, and I shall turn my thoughts to myself and any others who are preachers or teachers, and who try to do good to others.

Years ago Hamburgh was nearly half of it burned down, and among the incidents that happened, there was this one. A large house had connected with it a yard in which there was a great black dog, and this black dog in the middle of the night barked and howled most furiously. It was only by his barking that the family were awakened just in time to escape from the flames, and their lives were spared; but the poor dog was chained to his kennel, and though he barked and thus saved the lives of others, he was burned himself.

Oh! do not you who work for God in this church perish in that fashion. Do not permit your sins to enchain you, so that while you warn others you become lost yourselves. Do see that you have the godliness which has the promise of the life that is to come.

And now, you who really desire to find godliness, remember, it is to be had in Christ, and only in Christ.

Spiritual Depression – Men As Trees, Walking – Mark 8

22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”

D.Martin Lloyd-Jones has said multiple times so far in our mini-series that ‘it is sad and tragic that a Christian should ever be miserable‘, and he stated that some are miserable because they do not know they are justified before God purely by faith, requiring nothing but belief on their part. Today he offers up problems and remedies for two groups of people.

The first is the person who unhappy with who they are. They are unhappy with the world, themselves, themselves in the world, and often despair over the ‘hand life dealt them‘, as they may say. They have seen the problem with the world, but not the hope of believing in Jesus. They have asked no-one for help, and are not likely to.

Others see the ‘excellencies of the Christian life‘, and wholeheartedly exhort others to live the kind of life that Jesus taught on the Sermon on the Mount. They know they cannot save themselves from the consequences of sin, but have not yet fully understood justification by faith, and this tension is difficult for them. They have asked to be healed of their blindness (vv.22-23), but have not yet said that things are not all that clear right now (v.24).

Lloyd-Jones offers the remedy in simple form;

  1. Learn and understand the principles and doctrines of the matter at hand.
  2. Fully engage the heart and mind to the matter at hand.
  3. Commit your will to the matter at hand.

The teaching of the full counsel of God’s Word, properly understood, taken to heart, and allowed to influence our will, over time, will remedy both the hopeless and the tense.

Seeing ourselves for who we truly are and seeing Jesus for who He truly is, seeing what we can and can’t do and seeing what Jesus has done, and understanding the teaching of Scripture on how we are saved will take away the hopelessness from the hopeless, and will take away the tension from the tense.

If we don’t understand the teachings and the doctrines instantly, that’s ok, but find someone in your life that you trust to walk you through it all, reach out to them, and ask.

We don’t want to see a world full of trees walking around, we want to live our lives with the clarity that comes from being honest with ourselves, with the Lord, with those around us, and asking for more.

Lloyd-Jones writes this,

Do you believe that the Son of God came from heaven and lived and did all He did on earth, that He died on a cross and was buried and rose again, that He ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit, in order to leave us in a state of confusion? It is impossible. He came that we might see clearly, that we might know God…

…If you are unhappy about yourself as a result [of being honest with yourself], come to Him, come to His Word, wait upon Him, plead with Him, hold on to Him, ask Him…and He will do it, and you will no longer be an uncertain Christian seeing and not seeing.