“They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.” (Titus 1:11 (ESV)
One of the most important books published in the 20th century was written by theologian J. Gresham Machen. It is entitled Christianity and Liberalism. Machen addressed the issue of false teaching in the church. It was an issue in the Apostle Paul’s lifetime, in Machen’s, and in our own.
“In my little book, Christianity and Liberalism, 1923, I tried to show that the issue in the Church of the present day is not between two varieties of the same religion, but, at bottom, between two essentially different types of thought and life. There is much interlocking of the branches, but the two tendencies, Modernism and Supernaturalism, or (otherwise designated) non-doctrinal religion and historic Christianity, spring from different roots. In particular, I tried to show that Christianity is not a “life,” as distinguished from a doctrine, and not a life that has doctrine as its changing symbolic expression, but that–exactly the other way around–it is a life founded on a doctrine,” explains Machen.
“In the sphere of religion, in particular, the present time is a time of conflict; the great redemptive religion which has always been known as Christianity is battling against a totally diverse type of religions belief, which is only the more destructive of the Christian faith because it makes use of traditional Christian terminology. This modern non-redemptive religion is called ‘modernism’ or ‘liberalism’.” Machen states.
It is said that doctrine divides but love unites. This perspective results in pastors and religious leaders seeking to avoid giving offense. Doctrine becomes unimportant; relationships are what really matter.
“Doctrine divides, but doctrine also unites. It binds together the hearts of God’s people who celebrate the truth of God together.” – R. C. Sproul
Paul was concerned about false teaching in the churches in Crete (Titus 1:9-10). He instructed Titus to hold firm to the trustworthy Word as taught. This was so he would be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also rebuke those who contradicted it. The apostle wanted Titus to train and appoint qualified elders in the churches to do the same.
Paul stated that false teachers must be silenced. It was absolutely necessary. The grammar indicates that this discipline was to be continually and actively done. The apostle recognized that false teachers would be a continual threat in the church.
Paul gave this reasoning because of the results of false teaching. Heresy upsets entire families by teaching for money what should not be taught. This problem can occur in many areas of communication, but has especially arisen through the advent and growth of Christian television. It is amazing how false teachers dominate this medium. The issue is also evident on social media.
“These false teachers must be silenced because of the damage they were doing to the families of the congregation (cf. 2 Tim. 3:6). No doubt Titus’ method of silencing was to be the same as Timothy’s: the false teachers were to be instructed not to teach certain things lest they be excommunicated (cf. 1 Tim. 1:3–4; 2 Tim. 3:5). Again Paul condemned the motives of the false teachers—they were interested in dishonest gain,” explains commentator A. Duane Litfin.
“False teachers are always in it for the money (1 Tim. 6:5; 1 Pet. 5:2),” warns Dr. John MacArthur.
Pray for your pastor(s) to be faithful in confronting and silencing false teachers in your church. Encourage and support them when they do so. This responsibility is not an easy task for them and may result in emotional backlash by friends of those confronted and silenced. Your pastor(s) need your prayers and support.
Soli deo Gloria!