When Paul left the island of Crete, he left Titus behind to “ordain elders in every city” (Tit. 1:5). As we read on, Paul explains why the churches in those cities needed spiritual leaders urgently:
“For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision” (Titus 1:10).
Crete’s churches needed leaders to deal with some “unruly” men. The word unruly means someone who refuses to be ruled. Of course, the only thing you should allow to rule your life spiritually is the Bible. That’s why Hebrews 13:7 describes spiritual leaders as “them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God.”
But that means that the “unruly” men in Crete must have been men who didn’t want to be ruled by God’s Word. And since they were “specially…of the circumcision” (Tit. 1:10), they probably didn’t want to be ruled by what Titus taught them from God’s Word, that “in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision” (Gal. 6:15), and so refused to “walk according to this rule” (v. 16). Unruly Jews in those days preferred to be ruled by the Law of Moses instead. They were proud of being “Moses’ disciples” (John 9:28), and wouldn’t want to hear that “we are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:15).
Perhaps you are thinking, “Hold on, Pastor! The Law was part of the Word of God, and you just said that those unruly men didn’t want to be ruled by the Word!” They didn’t!—that is, they didn’t want to be ruled by the Word of God for today. They wanted to be ruled by the Law, the Word of God from the previous dispensation. But if you’re not allowing your spiritual life to be ruled by God’s Word for today, you’re not being ruled by God’s Word.
To make matters worse, we know that these unruly Jews were teaching others that they were under the Law, for Paul called them “unruly and vain talkers…whose mouths must be stopped” (Tit. 1:10,11). And we know that Timothy had the same problem in Ephesus where he was stationed (I Tim. 1:3), for Paul told him,
“…some…have turned aside unto vain jangling; desiring to be teachers of the law…” (I Tim. 1:6,7).
As you can see, there were also unruly talkers in Ephesus who wanted to teach the Law to others. And did you notice Paul called their words “vain jangling?” That matches Paul’s description of the “unruly and vain talkers” in Crete (Tit. 1:10). And that confirms that the trouble in Crete was being caused by this same desire to be teachers of the Law.
By the way, that word “vain” means empty. The Law was full of God’s blessing for the Jews to whom He gave it, but it is empty of God’s blessing for those of us who are not under the Law, but under grace.
So if you don’t want to be an unruly Christian, just do what Paul tells us to do in Philippians 3:16,17:
…let us walk by the same rule… be followers together of me.”
The only way to avoid being an unruly Christian is to follow Paul’s teachings of grace! The Law of Moses was fine for “the house of Israel” (Acts 2:36), but not for “the house of God, which is the church” (I Tim. 3:15). If you’re not walking by Paul’s rules of grace, you’re walking by the wrong house rules!
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.