In Titus 1:10-16, Paul wrote to Titus about how to handle the folks in Crete. Crete was Titus’s mission field. According to the postscript of this epistle, Titus was the first bishop of the church of the Cretians. And there were two main problems among the Cretians with which Titus had to deal. There were believers whose faith was being subverted, mainly by Jewish proselytes (v.10-14), and there were unsaved reprobates who professed to be believers (v.15-16).
The deceived believers of Crete – Paul addressed them in Titus 1:10-14
What was their problem? Titus 1:10 – they were:
Unruly – Heb 13:7, 17 – so they wouldn’t follow a pastor.
Vain talkers – 1 Tim 1:5-6 vain jangling – theirs was noisy quarreling and idle talk.
Deceivers – 2 Tim 3:13, they had been deceived and now they were deceiving.
What were they doing? Titus 1:11 – they were:
Subverting whole houses – to subvert is to corrupt; to confound; to pervert the mind and turn it from the truth. When others are subverted, they are under false doctrine, and therefore under the control of a false teachers.
Teaching things which they ought not – see 1 Tim 1:3-4, 2 Tim 4:3-4; 1 Tim 4:1-3; Acts 15:1-5; etc. They shouldn’t have been teaching that converts had to keep the law or be circumcised in order to be saved, for instance.
Taking people’s money – 1 Pet 5:2; Titus 1:7; contrast Paul, 2 Thes 3:7-9, 2 Cor 12:14. It was easier to talk people out of their money than it was to work.
Why were they doing these things? Titus 1:12-14 – because of their lack of character. Imagine someone saying about anyone today the things Paul said about the Creitans. They would be accused of a hate crime, for sure. But even one of their own, a prophet named Epimenides, said these things were so. And with him Paul and the Holy Spirit agreed. They were:
Liars – 1 Tim 4:2, you couldn’t count on them to tell the truth. That was a cultural problem.
Evil beasts – 1 Cor 15:32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus. 2 Pet 2:12 but these as natural brute beasts. Jude 10 what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.
Slow bellies – A slow belly is a lazy person; a heavy indolent (averse to activity, effort, or movement) glutton. Their god was their belly, Rom 16:17-18; Phil 3:18-19.
Because of their unsound faith. They were turned from the truth.
They had given heed to Jewish fables – Matt 23:15; Gal 5:7-12; Acts 15:1-5. The Jews taught that you had to be circumcised and keep the law to be saved.
They had given heed to commandments of men – Mk 7:5-13, in fact, the law, to the Jews who had perverted the gospel, was nothing more than the tradition of men.
How was Titus supposed to handle them? Titus 1:11, 13
He was to rebuke them sharply – 2 Tim 4:2, you won’t find many preachers doing this today. They are all trying to find out how to get along and get all the churches together.
And stop their mouths – Matt 22:46, Jesus very cleverly quieted the men who were trying to frame him. And then in Matt 23, he let them have it, full force.
The unbelievers of Crete – Titus 1:15-16
What was their problem? Titus 1:15-16 – they professed to know God when they didn’t; in works they denied him. They weren’t saved; they were defiled and unbelieving. Adolf Hitler, for example, professed to the Austrian people following the Anschluss that he was doing the will of God, that God had chosen him for this work.
What were they doing? Titus 1:16 – they were:
Being abominable – homosexuality is an abomination, Lev 20:13, for instance. Homosexual pastors profess to know God, but in their abominable works you can tell that they deny him.
Being disobedient – When men violate the words of God, they are being disobedient. Many Charismatics who “speak in tongues” and “cast out devils” would like you to think they are saved. But according to Jesus, some of them are defiled unbelievers, Matt 7:21-23. A man who expects you to call him “father” is disobeying Matt 23:9.
Being reprobate unto every good work – in Rom 1:28 this stems from not liking to retain God in their knowledge. A priest, for instance, who tells you to pray to Mary and to confess your sins to him and to bow before a piece of bread and profess that “it” is your Lord and your God is reprobate.
Why were they doing these things? Titus 1:15 – they were doing these things because:
Their mind was defiled – what’s in the heart of man defiles the man, Mk 7:20-23. When he’s not saved, his mind is naturally defiled.
Their conscience was defiled – 1 Tim 1:5, they’re supposed to have a good conscience. Rom 2:15 a good conscience shows the work of the law written in their hearts. However, in 1 Tim 4:2, some sear their conscience, and defile their conscience, until it is so weak that it no longer guides them to the Lord. Generations of young people have had their consciences defiled through education in schools and colleges and through things they have seen on television, in movies and on the internet.
How was Titus supposed to handle them? Titus 1:15
He was supposed to recognize that, though they professed to know God, they didn’t know him. People don’t know the Lord, just because they profess that they know him. If they really do know him, then what Paul wrote is true of them, “unto the pure all things are pure.” These Cretians didn’t know him, and so, unto them was nothing pure. To those who are lost, therefore, we preach the gospel. A man has to be saved before he can ever hope to clean up a defiled mind and conscience.
Conclusion: Titus’s mission field was not unlike the mission fields today. The people, though some are saved, are often culturally weak. Some are easily influenced to believe unruly, vain talking, deceivers. Therefore, as then so now, they must be sharply rebuked. And many unbelievers have been so defiled by false religious teaching that preachers must wisely preach the gospel to help turn them to the truth of salvation in Jesus Christ.