13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,
13 This testimony is true.
The Cretan stereotype was an adequate description for the false teachers of Crete (v. 12). Paul agreed with Epimenides on this point and put his stamp of approve on this characterization of Cretans.
Therefore rebuke them sharply,
Titus and his co-workers in Crete were to rebuke these false teachers “sharply.” A sharp rebuke would get their attention. Anything less would perpetuate the problem. Not all conflict is wrong.
The “them” here probably refers to gullible Cretan believers susceptible to false teaching. Cretan believers had traits that would dispose them toward biblical error. They were not sound in faith but were susceptible to believe something not true.
2 Ti 2: 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
that [result] they may be sound [whole, healthy] in the faith,
The goal of rebuke is restoration. Paul’s hope was to bring Cretan believers to a point of wholeness in their faith. They had a sick belief system. They needed deliverance from distorted doctrine. Restoration to the truth would help them become healthy in their faith.
The devil will throw up smoke screens that deceive gullible Christians. The goal of church leadership is to bring people in their assembly to a place of “sound” faith. Those with a sick faith, unwholesome faith will falter under vultures who will attempt to steal dynamic faith.
It is the responsibility of church leadership to expose false teachers through doctrinal teaching.
Failure to rebuke heresy or ethical problems in the church indicates fundamental indifference to God’s truth and character. Fear of giving offense is the reason leaders do not want to take the doctrinal deception problem on. By not taking up the challenge of rebuking false teachers, restoration becomes possible. The purpose of surgery is not to hurt but to help. Cutting into the body to remove cancer is invasive. The purpose of biblical rebuke is remedial.
2 Ti 2: 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,
2 Ti 4: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
The church is often good at obstetrics but poor at pediatrics. We are at times good at winning people to Christ but poor at developing converts in solid doctrine. When this is the case, sects abound. We need to turn people away from the mere dead words of man.