This exercise is a continuation of a series we started at Grace with our leadership while I served as interim there. For those who are not pastors or deacons, but who lead in some capacity in any arena of life, these books are a tremendous resource in Scripture. I encourage all of those who would be called leaders or who oversee to take advantage of these notes geared specifically toward leadership or roles with much responsibility.
Paul referred to Titus as his true child in a common faith. He greeted Titus with grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. Let us similarly greet one another.
Titus, like Timothy, held the responsibility of appointing elders in the churches. Only he did so in Crete. The character qualifications for these elders were similar to the character qualifications Paul prescribed to Timothy.
Elders (pastors) were not to be self-willed, they were to be self-controlled, and there were to be people who held securely the faithful word so that they would be able to exhort in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict doctrine that is sound. That is the responsibility for the elders, not only in Ephesus where Timothy was but also on the island of Crete. That is the responsibility of every elder of every church in every place. It is his responsibility to do so while not giving in to quick-temper and without being pugnacious. There are other character qualifications, here, and we should read them carefully while examining our own hearts. This is the character that God is producing within His people, particularly, here, the elders of His church. If we are lacking, let us not be quick to leave the ministry. That is prideful. Let us first seek Christ. He will transform us. We remember that it is He who qualifies those He calls. If I find that I am unwilling to change in response to the Scriptures, then I discover that I am unwilling to follow Christ. That is when I step down from eldership. That is when, in church discipline, we ask others to step down.
There are many rebellious people in the church who “must be silenced.” So, we maintain that sound doctrine is worth every defense in our midst. The reason we reprove “severely” is so that those rebellious people may come to be sound in the faith. We work for their benefit, not merely to selfishly secure our own ranks according to our own perceptions.
Most of the rebellion of those in Crete, and many in the organized church today, stems from religiosity. We are given a great truth in this verse. To those who are pure, all things are pure. If we are cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ, then I know that no legalism can cleanse me, no abstinence earn God’s grace, no prohibition accomplish the things of God. If we are cleansed by the blood of Christ alone, it becomes very difficult for us to defile ourselves. Through sanctification, God gives us the desire not to sin. To the pure, all things are pure. The Scriptures say elsewhere that God gave us all good things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). If we become legalistic in our preaching and teaching, we miss that God is our purifier and the sanctifier of our congregations.
In our depravity, though, we really like rules. They make us feel so good about ourselves. That is why Paul writes that to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. If we have not experienced God’s purifying work, we will be quick to condemn people because of what they do or have done. Let us never forget that the Gospel is of grace and given in faith- nothing less, nothing different, nothing contrary.
For those who have not been purified, they profess to know God. By their deeds (their religiosity, rules, prohibitions) they deny God because they have not recognized that God is the only one who can purify and sanctify His people. Paul writes that people who are merely religious are actually detestable because of that religiosity and disobedient, worthless for any truly good deed.
Let us preach Jesus. Let us not fall into the trap of preaching any degree of works-righteousness or mere religiosity. For, when we do, we entrap those who believe us and the whole congregation becomes worthless for any genuinely good deed, true and willing participation in God’s building of His own church.