He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. Titus 1:9
Titus dwells on the island of Crete with people who are notorious for lying compulsively. In several more verses, Paul will quote the famous Cretan, Epimenides, a seventh-century BC poet and native of Crete, who said, “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, and lazy gluttons.”
Other ancient writers spoke of them this way as well. A Roman poet named Ovid referred to the island as ‘Lying Crete.’ The Greeks used the verb cretize as a synonym for lying. If you were from Crete, you were believed to be a compulsive liar, someone who lied by default and didn’t give it a second thought. There was not a twinge of guilt.
Paul commissioned Titus to find elders who no longer struggled with compulsive lying, who no longer resembled their native people. How Titus labored to find those who treasured the purity of the scriptures. He looked for needles in a haystack, for truth lovers and truth tellers. Because of the saving power of the Gospel, they had forsaken the ways of their families and ancestors. They paid dearly to love God more than ‘father and mother.’ They suffered rejection as they confronted people they knew well about every form of falsehood.
I must read the book of Titus contextually. I can’t perceive the island of Crete to be like my own culture where there is a healthy pool of seminary trained pastors and teachers. Infant believers on Crete had so far to go become like Jesus ~ the One in whom ‘no deceit was found at all.’ Sound doctrine was critical then, and it is critical now. The truth of the scriptures is breathed from the mind of God, the very One who is Truth. When sound doctrine is compromised, the character of God is assassinated. He is not seen as reliable, His promises can’t be relied upon, and He is not worshipped as the unchanging God whose Word stands forever. Defending His character, His very Word, must be our default.
A believer on Crete had to leave a culture of liars. What part of my culture am I blind to? Show me. Amen