10”As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” (Titus 3:10–11 (ESV)
“In doctrine, therefore, we should always have regard to usefulness, so that everything that does not contribute to godliness shall be held in no estimation,” says 16th century Protestant Reformer John Calvin. In other words, believers in Christ, especially pastors, must discern when it is useful to debate a fool and when it is not (Prov. 26:4–5).
When it becomes apparent that someone in the church delights in stirring up trouble and division, the Apostle Paul instructs Titus as to the appropriate response. Pastors are to warn the individual once, and then if necessary twice. Thereafter, the individual in question is to be rejected.
The word warning (νουθεσία; nouthesia) means to admonish and correct ungodly behavior; especially divisive speech. The phrase have nothing more to do with him (παραιτέομαι; paraiteomai) means to shun and avoid.
“Anyone in the church who is unsubmissive, self-willed, and divisive should be expelled. Two warnings are to be given, following the basic pattern for church discipline set forth by Christ (Matt. 18:15–17; cf. Rom. 16:17–18; 2 Thess. 3:14–15),” states Dr. John MacArthur.
This type of response by church leadership should be done cautiously, seriously and prayerfully. The reason is that the divisive person is warped (ἐκστρέφω; ekstepho) meaning perverted, sinful (ἁμαρτάνω; harmartano) meaning disobedient to the Word of God, and self-condemned (αὐτοκατάκριτος; autokatakritos) or judged by one’s own actions.
Great care must be shown by church leaders in such a situation. There have been elders who reject a church member because the individual questioned the behavior of the church’s leadership. Elders are not perfect, nor should they believe themselves to be.
“The apostle frequently condemns quarreling and strife (Rom. 13:13; 1 Cor. 3:3), so it is no surprise that people who foster such things are likewise to be avoided (Titus 3:10). We must stand for the truth but never be the kind of people who are always itching for a fight. Otherwise, we will sacrifice good works for the sake of finding new and “exciting” battles to wage,” explains Dr. R. C. Sproul.
Pray for the elders in your local church. Pray that they will have the courage to stand for truth and obey God’s Word; even when it is difficult.
Soli deo Gloria!