This is the last of the pastoral letters, in which Paul instructs a man named Titus on what he needed to do with the churches in Crete. Apparently, there was a lot of false teaching there, similar to what Timothy was facing in Ephesus. There were those getting into myths and genealogies on one hand, and legalism on the other. All this despite the fact that these churches were still relatively young.
Also, because of their immaturity in Christ, the people had little idea of what it meant to live holy lives.
So from the very beginning, Paul talks about how God called him for the sake of the believers that they may know the truth, a truth cannot be separated from godliness. And it’s a truth, Paul says, that leads to eternal life which God has promised to all who believe. (1:2-3)
But because of a lack of leadership in these young churches, Paul tells Titus to appoint elders/overseers in the churches. They were in effect to be the pastors of these churches. And as with Timothy, Paul tells them there are two important things a pastor or elder must have.
The first is character, that they must be above approach as people. (1:6-8)
The second is that they hold to the truth and that they relay it to those God has put in their charge. The reason?
For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach–and that for the sake of dishonest gain. Even one of their own prophets has said, “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” (1:10-12)
Even in the church today, we see much of the same thing. People who don’t like what God has taught in his Word and corrupt it. People who lead entire families away from Christ by teaching things that are false. Some, as in the case of Cretan teachers, do so for the sake of money. Others corrupt it because they have bought the lie that we have to earn our salvation and that God’s grace is not enough. Others corrupt it because it teaches against the kind of life they want to live.
But in each case, Paul tells Titus,
Rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith. (1:13)
In short, stand for the truth. Don’t just let lies slip by unchallenged. God is a God who never lies, and we are to imitate him. (1:2)
There are many, Paul says, who profess to know God, but by their works and by their teaching deny him. Why? Because their minds and consciences are corrupt. They simply do not want to accept the truth. But Paul charges Titus,
You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. (2:1)
Though others may stray from the truth, we are to stand for it. And we are not to compromise.
How about you? Do you stand for truth? Or do you let lies slip by, letting people go to their own destruction. Even worse, do you twist the truth to suit your own sinful desires?
We will stand before God someday based on what we did with his truth. What will he say to you on that day?