FALSE TEACHINGS TODAY – 1 (Titus 5)
READ: Titus 1:15-16
In the previous blog we saw that false teachers are very dangerous liars and their false teachings must be corrected. Paul wasn’t done speaking about them. He then explained why they caused so much trouble.
It became very dangerous when people started following “the commands of those who reject the truth” (Titus 1:14). Judaism turned into a legalistic system as it developed thousands of rules and laws which had to be followed to avoid negative consequences. Legalism is always motivated by fear: fear of what God will do to us and what others will say if we don’t follow all the rules. The Jews had thousands of laws about food, working on the sabbath, how to treat others and how to serve God. When they became believers in Jesus, some of them kept these laws and regulations as Christians. They added Jesus to Judaism. The early church ruled against this at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, almost 20 years earlier. Paul was in conflict with these false teachers almost everywhere he went. His first letter, to the Galatians, was about this very principle.
Some who were pushing these lies were true believers but they replaced grace with works (Luke 8:13; 1 Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 3:12), others had never come to Jesus for salvation but attended church to spread their false ideas (Luke 13:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:11).
Whatever the status of their salvation, they promoted false teaching by saying Jesus wasn’t enough – works were also necessary. In fact, Paul says they and their teachings are “corrupt” (Titus 1:15). While claiming others are ceremonially unclean because they don’t keep kosher laws, they are the ones who are spiritually unclean in their beliefs.
Paul concluded by saying, “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good” (Titus 1:16). These are very strong words! “Unfit” means they are rejected as worthless when tested because they do not meet God’s approval. Their words and works are off course.
When I was a young Christian, I was mentored by people who focused on a list of do’s and don’ts – mostly don’ts. There were certain things I couldn’t do, wear, read or eat. Everything was prescribed for me. The more closely I followed their dictates, the more I was accepted and praised. If I deviated, I was seen as carnal or backsliding. It took a while for me to learn I was under grace and could come to God for guidance about what He wanted for me. It’s not that the things they had me do were all wrong, it’s that I was doing them for the wrong reason. I was motivated by fear. If I didn’t do what I was told I feared God and other Christians would reject me.
Grace is the free and unmerited favor of God as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. It is the undeserved, unmerited, unearned favor of God. We are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) and live by grace (Hebrews 13:9).
Some false teachers try to put God’s people under laws and regulations as the way to earn His love. Other false teachers say God loves us so much it doesn’t matter how we live or what we do. We can do whatever we want and its OK with Him. Both extremes are wrong. When we live by fear we lack love, joy and peace. We become critical of others and are a bad testimony to unbelievers. When we feel everything is OK, we sin and separate ourselves from God. That leads to more sin and thus we have no love, joy or peace either. Then we become a bad testimony to others as well. The Prodigal Son felt he could do whatever he wanted and ended up in misery, guilt and loss. His elder brother lived by legalism and also had no love, joy or peace. He was judgmental and critical. Both extremes are dangerous and wrong. Satan uses them to counterfeit the truth and make it seem like they are right when they are just traps to put us in bondage and defeat. (More about false teachings today in the next blog.) (September 11, 2023 Doylestown, PA)
PAUL’S ADVICE: False teachers are very dangerous and bring destruction.
Hebrews 13:9 Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them.
Which extreme are you more tempted to: feeling we have to do (or not do) things to earn God’s love and approval or believing it’s OK to do anything because God will forgive you and it will be OK?
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
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