Short post today, as my last major post involved a lot of scripture. The first passage is from the letter to Titus:
But as for you, teach what befits sound doctrine. 2 Bid the older men be temperate, serious, sensible, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Bid the older women likewise to be reverent in behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be sensible, chaste, domestic, kind, and submissive to their husbands, that the word of God may not be discredited. 6 Likewise urge the younger men to control themselves. 7 Show yourself in all respects a model of good deeds, and in your teaching show integrity, gravity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be censured, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say of us. 9 Bid slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to be refractory, 10 nor to pilfer, but to show entire and true fidelity, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.
15 Declare these things; exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
Various parts of Titus 2 are quoted often by Christians, as there is a lot packed into a relatively short passage. Yet I think the most important part of the passage is actually the finally verse. Why? It makes it clear that Titus had authority to teach and to correct, the latter being essential. Paul is making it clear in this passage that there is such a thing as correct teaching and doctrine within Christianity. In short, there is a right way of doing things, and everything else is wrong. This is an important perspective to maintain today when we look around and see “Christians” of all stripes interpreting Scripture to mean whatever they want it to want it to, or “updating” it to fit the present age. The First Letter to Timothy contains similar language:
If any one teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching which accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit, he knows nothing; he has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, 5 and wrangling among men who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.
These verses also hint at another problem, namely the creation of controversy in order to muddy the waters of understanding.
Titus also contains teaching on how to respond to those who refuse correction:
I desire you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to apply themselves to good deeds;[b] these are excellent and profitable to men. 9 But avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels over the law, for they are unprofitable and futile. 10 As for a man who is factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is perverted and sinful; he is self-condemned.
The First Letter to the Corinthians contains several verses with the same advice/teaching:
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men;[d] 10 not at all meaning the immoral[e] of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But rather I wrote[f] to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality[g] or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you.”
While this is probably worthy of a standalone post to explore in detail, I think that the general point is clear enough. As Christians living in a fallen world, we cannot ever truly “escape” from sin. Facing it is part of the challenges of life on Earth. But we should avoid those who claim to be Christians yet act like they are of the world. One reason, among many, to do this is because they represent a much greater threat to us. Being “brothers” in the faith, we are more likely to let them influence us in a negative fashion than someone who doesn’t belong to the faith. Said another way, it is best that we keep those who are our foes in a position where we can clearly understand this, lest they lead us into sin.