Opposition is a reality of the Christian’s life, according to Titus 1:10. In the context of this letter, Paul is describing those among the early Christians who were trying to require Gentile converts to be circumcised and observe Jewish dietary restrictions as part of their conversion to Christ (see vs. 14). In the larger principle, he is acknowledging that – people being people – Christians will always encounter someone who responds to the scriptures will be “yes, but…” (even within the church). We can find biblical examples of this in passages like 1 Timothy 6:5 and 3 John 9-10, as well as here in verse 11, and the existence of modern “Christian” denominations shows that the same attitude – putting what individuals want ahead of what God says – is alive and well today.
Opposition to what the scriptures say is fundamentally a problem of attitude, just as it was for ancient Cain (Genesis 4:7). When a Christian argues with the plain teaching of God’s word, that individual is not “entitled to have their ‘say’:” In fact, Paul says they are to be silenced, not allowed to “have the floor” because their influence damages the church. At verse 13 Paul even specifies that those who argue and quarrel about things that shouldn’t be issues (“empty talkers and deceivers,” vs. 10) should be abruptly “shut down,” answered promptly and bluntly so that the influence and impact of their views or contentions within the church is cancelled, and so that they themselves may realize they are wrong, and repent (vs. 13b).
The context of Titus 1 speaks specifically about Christians who cause problems within the church. When we look at the example of Paul, we see that he also employed the same basic perspective in dealing with non-Christians who argued against what the bible teaches and what Christians practice (see Acts 13:6-11). No spiritually-healthy Christian “enjoys” dealing with conflicts and tension among brethren (see 2 Corinthians 13:11 & James 3:18), or even “debating” non-Christians, but Paul shows us in Titus 1 that it is necessary for us to “stand up” for the truth. Verses 15-16 show that a perverse attitude – if left unanswered – will infect everything it touches. This is why Paul writes about the things elders “must” do in verses 9 and 11, and why verse 13 presents us with a commandment, not a recommendation.
We can’t control how others respond to the gospel of Jesus, but in Titus 2:1 the Holy Spirit commands us to speak things that will “beautify” sound doctrine. Paul’s message to Titus and to all Christians is actually very simple; the things we say (even “idle words,” Matthew 12:36) and especially the things we teach should conform to and complement “sound doctrine.” Translated simply, these words mean “healthy teaching.” As we progress through Titus 2:2-7, it becomes clear that one aspect of sound doctrine is that every member has a place, a “role,” in Christ’s kingdom – none of us is given a “pass” to be idle! What kind of “model” are YOU?