9 But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. 10 Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned (Titus 3:9–11, NKJV).
We need spiritual discernment to successfully identify and avoid foolish disputes, contentions, and strivings (v. 9; 1 Cor. 2:15; Phil. 1:9-10). Not every disagreement is about contending for the faith. Some are only about competing and maintaining one’s pride and position. Such are “unprofitable and useless” and fail to strengthen and stabilize souls. Striving over them causes “the ruin of the hearers” (2 Tim. 2:14; 1 Tim. 1:3-7). The divisive person is factious, choosing to disrupt unity instead of encouraging unity in Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 1:10-12). Sadly, this person rarely sees himself as “divisive” (Titus 3:10). So, we must have clear eyes to see the damage caused by the factious. They are perverted in faith and condemned by their divisive behavior (v. 11). Factiousness refuses the authority of Christ for self-defined constraints (binding where the Lord does not bind) or unscriptural allowances (loosing where the Lord binds). The factious press their distortions of truth through “selfish ambitions, dissensions, (and) heresies” (Gal. 5:20). Failure to identify and reject the factious person will infect and destroy a congregation. Therefore, if the factious refuse to repent, they must be marked and turned away from, not shielded and coddled in their sin (Rom. 16:17-18). Paul commanded Titus to reject them after a first and second warning (v. 10). We must do the same.
2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:2–3, NKJV)
Christ’s apostle boldly described those who perverted the gospel (i.e., false brethren) by demanding Gentiles keep the law of Moses to be saved; They were false brethren (Acts 15:5; Gal. 2:4-5; 5:4). For emphasis, Paul gave one warning three times. (1) Beware of dogs (v. 2). Feral dogs lived in packs, scavenging for food (Ps. 59:6; 1 Kings 14:11). We must be alert against false teachers who attack and consume souls (Gal. 1:6-10; Jude 4). (2) Beware of evil workers (v. 2). Their works are wicked; Do not give them quarter (Ps. 119:115; Phil. 2:18-19). (3) Beware of the mutilation (v. 2). The doctrine of binding circumcision for salvation did nothing to remove sin because it was only a physical incision. By contrast, Christians (whether Jews or Gentiles) are “the circumcision” (the covenant people of God, whose hearts are circumcised, Rom. 2:28-29; Col. 2:11-13). Next, Paul gave three counterbalancing descriptions of Christians. (1) Christians worship God in the Spirit (v. 3). The word “worship” denotes service to God. We serve God according to the truth that the Spirit revealed, not by the error of the “dogs” (Gal. 3:1-3; 5:5-6). (2) Christians rejoice in Christ Jesus (v. 3). We have joy in Christ and do not take pleasure in evil things (Phil. 3:1; 4:4; Rom. 12:15). (3) Christians have no confidence in the flesh (v. 3). Our salvation in Christ does not depend on physical pedigree, performance, and promotion. Paul refused to trust in such things (Phil. 3:4-7). Brethren, be alert to error and those who teach it. Serve God with the confidence of the truth of the gospel.
1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. (1 Thessalonians 5:1–4, NKJV)
Then, as now, people want to know when Jesus will return. They want to know the designated time and occasion of this great event. Some even predict when Christ will return. All these predictions have failed, and all will continue to fail. Christians who trust the word of God do not fret about when the Lord will come. We know He will come unexpectedly. Just as a thief does not break into a home when the homeowner is watching, Jesus will return when least expected. His return will be sudden, without warning. Like the onset of labor pains from which there is no escape, we will not elude the sudden return of Jesus and the events that transpire on the day of the Lord. Christians remain ready for that day by living holy lives (2 Pet. 3:11, 14). Sinners are not ready, but the gospel calls sinners to repent and obey – to get ready for that day. Why? Because sudden destruction waits the unprepared. Are you ready?
11 Yes, they are greedy dogs which never have enough. And they are shepherds who cannot understand; They all look to their own way, every one for his own gain, from his own territory. 12 “Come,” one says, “I will bring wine, and we will fill ourselves with intoxicating drink; Tomorrow will be as today, and much more abundant.” (Isaiah 56:11–12, NKJV)
By the time Isaiah spoke God’s word to a rebellious people, the prophets, priests and kings of Israel had become consumed with greed, self-interest and sinful indulgence. Instead of being God’s watchmen, warning Israel of danger, they were blinded by personal gain (Isaiah 56:10). The shepherds were fleecing God’s sheep (Ezekiel 34:1-6). The Lord God brought His judgment upon them for their faithless dereliction of duty (Ezekiel 34:7-10). Today, those who are charged with leading God’s people, teaching and warning them from God’s word of sin’s danger, must refuse the temptation of personal advancement and lure of personal gain. Elders of churches have become corporate CEOs tending capital, instead of shepherds tending souls (Hebrews 13:17; Acts 20:28). Gospel preaching has become a career path, instead of a servant’s calling (2 Timothy 4:1-5). All the while, Christians starve for spiritual guidance, while “greedy dogs” indulge themselves. Harsh words? This warning is intended to convict and convert, lest a worse fate befall all who serve themselves, instead of serving the Lord and His people.
9 All you beasts of the field, come to devour, all you beasts in the forest. 10 His watchmen are blind, they are all ignorant; They are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; Sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. (Isaiah 56:9–10, NKJV)
A watchdog that cannot bark is not a good watchdog. When the devouring beasts approach the sheep, the watchdog must be able to see the danger and bark a warning to prevent the sheep from being devoured. A blind watchman cannot successfully fulfill his job. Watchmen who do not warn of spiritual danger, are blind. This was a real problem in ancient Israel; the watchmen were blinded by ignorance, and silent in the face of danger. They loved to comfort themselves, and were not ready and watchful to warn of the spiritual dangers of idolatry and immorality. In our time, God has put watchmen on the walls of Zion (pastors, evangelists, and every Christian). God’s watchmen must be vigilant to warn of spiritual danger. When they refuse to do so, fearful of jeopardizing their personal comfort, they are like Israel’s blind watchmen. They have become “dumb dogs.” The church is exposed to spiritual dangers when her watchmen do not “bark” and warn of the enemy’s approach (1 Peter 5:8). Sound the warnings against worldliness, false teaching and spiritual complacency. Be God’s watchman; not a dumb dog.
I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent, (Isaiah 62:6, NKJV)
Jehovah’s prophet, Isaiah, speaks of the heavenly Jerusalem, God’s people under the new covenant of Christ (Galatians 4:24-26; Hebrews 12:22). This is a prophetic reference to the church of Christ. God is pictured giving protective watch care over His people. Just as ancient cities had watchmen on their walls to warn of approaching danger, the Lord God has equipped His church with watchmen, who watch for our souls. Elders in every church “watch out for your souls” (Hebrews 13:17). Gospel preachers are to be “watchful in all things” (2 Timothy 4:5). Each Christian is to “watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). Christians watch for spiritual danger to themselves, and to their brethren. What a blessing it is to be warned of spiritual danger! God’s watchmen “never hold their peace” as they speak of the Lord and His salvation. God has placed on the walls of Zion. Instead of refusing the watchman’s warnings of sin, hear and heed the warnings given from the Lord. To do so is to accept God’s protection of your soul.
Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. (1 Timothy 4:16, NKJV)
It is much easier to watch others and form opinions about them, than it is to carefully look at ourselves for our own spiritual deficiencies. And so, Paul warned the evangelist Timothy of this temptation. Self-inspection is required if we are to improve our personal faith and character. Just as building inspectors use a building code to test the integrity of buildings, self-examination must be made using a standard by which we test our attitudes and actions. The only reliable standard to use is the doctrine of Christ; the doctrine preached by Christ’s apostles and available in the Scriptures. Timothy was to teach this doctrine, and use it to examine himself. Careful attention to ourselves is not complete unless we actually do the things we have been taught. So, look at yourself through the lens of God’s word and then, do His will. Your salvation is secured as you do this. And, you will be helping save others, too.
15 And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. 16 But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy. 17 Therefore He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak; He gave them all into his hand. (2 Chronicles 36:15–17, NKJV)
God’s compassion moved Him to warn Jerusalem and Judah of their sins. Early and often His servants, the prophets, spoke truth to a people who mocked them and refused God’s word. And so, God’s wrath fell upon Jerusalem and Judah by the hands of the Chaldeans (Babylonians). Now, by the gospel, God is calling sinners to repent and be saved from eternal wrath. Do not reject the gospel like Judah rejected the prophets. By despising God’s word, you are storing up wrath for yourself that will be unleashed without compassion on the day of judgment (Rom. 2:4-6). In Christ, God’s compassion is available now. Let God’s goodness lead you to repentance.
as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. (Jude 7, NKJV)
If you saw a loved one running into a burning building, would you warn them and try to stop them? Of course you would. Why then, when we warn homosexuals of their sin and its punishment of eternal fire, are we charged with being hateful bigots? It is a false and scurrilous charge. However, we know why some make it. Sinners hate the light of truth, and are willing to compromise with other sinners so their own sins will not be exposed (Jno. 3:19-21). Therefore, they let them run into the fire without warning – and call it love. What a selfish approach to take toward the reality and eternal destruction of sin – any sin – including the “sexual immorality” of homosexuality. We cannot stand by and watch souls run headlong into the punishment of eternal hell fire without sounding God’s warning. Love demands it. Jesus sounded warnings against sin (Mk. 9:42-48). Was Jesus a hateful bigot? No. We will follow His example, and in love we will warn sinners to repent, and thereby escape the punishment of eternal fire.