Paul did not speak well of the inhabitants of Crete, “One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’ This testimony is true.’” (Titus 1:12-13a). If you have not caught on yet, this is where we get the understanding that to be called a Cretan is not a compliment.
These Cretans existed both outside and inside the Church. The Cretan culture had crept into the Body of Christ like a poison. This is what Paul says in verse 16, “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.”
What I find interesting is that the solution to the Cretan culture within the Church is to put things in order by appointing Elders that meet Godly qualifications, and then Paul says this about the duty of an Elder “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” (Titus 1:9)
So think about this, the Church in Crete is living inconsistently with God’s will. The response is to appoint Godly men to put the Church in order. How will they do this? They are to anchor themselves in God’s Word and rebuke those who live out of sync with the Bible. The word for rebuke in Greek is elegchó and according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon it means to “convict, refute, confute, generally with a suggestion of the shame of the person convicted.”
As I look out on the landscape of those who profess to know God, yet live in open defiance to God’s Word, I cannot help but see a nation of Cretans. And don’t get me wrong, I am a sinner like everyone else. I deserve God’s wrath as much as anyone and I am far from perfect, however, this does not mean that we should revel in sin, promote sin, encourage sin, tolerate sin, or turn a blind eye to sin. Christians should instead abhor sin, both in our lives and others lives, and we should lay every sin aside and strive for holiness. Let us not forget that it is sin that separates us from God. It is sin that causes death. It is sin that caused Christ to come and die. It is sin that has made a mess out of this world.
Too often we hear people describe the sin debate in the context of, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone.” (John 8:7). However we leave out what Jesus says to the adulterous women in verse 11, “and from now on sin no more.” Or we love to talk about logs verses specks and we forget that Jesus concludes with, “then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5). Or we forget that the second time the word “Church” is ever used in the Bible, Jesus commands us to confront our brothers about their sin and says, “if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:17). Or we ignore what Paul commands the Church in Corinth to do when addressing certain sins, “purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:13).
As I watch the poison of sin continuing to creep into our churches I can’t help but be disappointed with pastors, elders, and leaders who in their ignorance or in their cowardice do not fulfill their calling. They fail to rebuke those people who contradict the express Word of the Almighty God by their actions.
If you won’t listen to the above text and fulfill your obligations, perhaps you will listen to James 3:1, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”