Early in Paul’s instructions for Titus is the exhortation to “appoint elders in every town” (1:5).
Why is Paul so insistent that elders—men of character and integrity that are competent to teach—be appointed? “So that [they] may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also rebuke those who contradict it” (1:9).
Paul’s letter to Titus came at a point in time in which the first-century church was falling victim to a variety of false teachers and deceptive doctrines. Perhaps some of them were simply misinformed. Perhaps some of them were malicious. Whatever the case, if they were preaching a gospel of salvation that was rooted in anything other than Christ alone, they were wrong and, as far as Paul was concerned, they needed to “be silenced” (1:11).
Fast-forward to the 21st century church and we still find ourselves in a similar predicament. Whether it’s the televangelist or, more recently, the spiritual “influencer” pumping up his or her platform on social media, there’s no shortage of those “teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach” (1:11). In the spirit of charity, maybe they’ve simply misspoken or have been misinformed. Sadly, I’m afraid it oftentimes is malicious—the enemy using the deception of pseudo-spiritual half-truths to tickle the ears of an audience, drawing them away from the gospel of Jesus Christ, away from the good news that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
Now you can see why it’s so crucial to be taught and trained in sound doctrine. This is the reoccurring theme in Paul’s letter to Titus—the importance of teaching, receiving, and living in response to “what is good” (2:3) rather than “the commands of people who turn away from the truth” (1:14). May we tune our minds, hearts, and ears to filter everything through the truth of God’s Word so that we may “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (2:10).