Shabbat Shalom everyone! Greetings to you in the Mighty and Wonderful Name of יהוה; favour, compassion and peace from Elohim the Father and the Master יהושע Messiah our Saviour! Certainly a much welcomed greeting to Titos from Sha’ul! Titos – a man who was tasked with a great responsibility in ‘setting straight’ a crooked people on the island of Crete, and believe me when I tell you that this was no easy task at all! Tonight I would like us to look at the letter Sha’ul wrote to Titos – yes the whole letter as we can certainly glean many great nuggets of truth from it as it is clearly a letter that is just as relevant to us today as it was to Titos almost 2000 years ago. In a message tonight called, “Mission Possible” I would like us to be reminded once more as to whom it is who has delivered us and called us to set-apart living and just who it is we worship and serve! יהוה of hosts is His Name, aměn! Please turn with me to Titos as we read this short, yet powerful letter. (Read).
Titos, a Greek convert who had travelled with Sha’ul and also served faithfully in a troubled Corinth and around 63-64 C.E. after leaving Timotiyos behind in Ephesos, Sha’ul and Titos went on to Crete where Sha’ul left Titos there to help sort out the assemblies in Crete. Sha’ul later wrote this letter to Titos and the purpose of the letter to Titos was to instruct him about what he should do and teach in the Cretan assemblies. What we have to understand here is that this society was not an easy society to teach and instruct in the ways of righteousness and Titos had his work cut out for him. In verse 5 Sha’ul tells him why he left Titos in Crete – and that was to ‘straighten out’ what was left undone and then appoint elders who were worthy to assist in leading the assemblies on this large island. Crete is one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean and had very fertile valleys, skilled seamen and it also played a huge role in Greek Mythology being known as the ‘land of the gods’. In other words, here you have Titos in the heart of pagan territory having to set some things straight!
The Greek word used here for ‘straighten out’ is ἐπιδιορθόω (epidiorthóō) – (Strong’s G1930) – and means ‘to proceed in correcting or setting in order’ or ‘to straighten out’. It is clear right here that Titos had a role to play and that was to straighten out that which was not straight! We get our English words ‘orthopedist’ or ‘orthodontist’ from this Greek word and understanding that an orthopedic surgeon or orthodontist refers to ‘one who is in the practice of correcting or preventing skeletal deformities, disorders or injuries’, whether it be a surgeon setting broken bones straight or a dental surgeon fixing crooked teeth! So we can see the picture here – Titos had to set straight those whose walk was crooked or whose speech was perverse! Broken bones that are not set straight, in order to heal back as one, can end up growing crookedly and lead to weakness in that bone later in life. What Sha’ul was telling Titos is that the assemblies in Crete were liken broken bones that were not set right and were in need of some serious attention or else their faith would grow crooked and warped! Titos had to set straight what was broken in order that they would heal properly and be strong in Messiah! Whenever a bone has not been set straight, it often requires that a doctor breaks that bone again in order to re-set it to heal properly in order to regain full functionality! Now you may ask, ‘what has all this got to do with the price of eggs?’ Well not much really but it does have a lot to do with us understanding what is going on in our day! There is a setting straight that is required – and many bones have, due to erroneous teaching, been previously broken or dislocated and not set straight which has resulted in a wicked and crooked generation! Now it is time for many to have their bones broken in order for them to be set straight again – a painful process for most I know but needed! So many today are sadly so ‘stuck in their ways’ that they are unwilling and unyielding to be submissive to some spiritual bone surgery that they so desperately need in order that they may walk upright in Messiah and as a result of their stubbornness they are becoming more and more crippled.
In Crete there were some things that had aggravated that brokenness, and that was that the people in Crete were not the easiest to work with. In fact in Chapter 1:12 Sha’ul says that even one of their own prophets, Epimenides, a Cretan poet and philosopher from the sixth century B.C.E. who was widely believed to be a religious prophet, said that all Cretans are always liars, evil beasts and lazy gluttons! Though the quotation may originally have referred to a particular lie (i.e., that Zeus was buried in Crete, which was especially offensive to those who believed Zeus was still alive), by Sha’ul’s day the saying had become a proverb which merely emphasized the low reputations of Cretans generally. So little did others think of the Cretans that the verb ‘krētizō’ was invented to mean “to lie” The Cretans needed healing and Titos had to realise that he was dealing with damaged goods. Lesson we can all do well to learn and realise – many out there are in need of some straightening out and are damaged property! Crete comes from the word meaning ‘carnal, fleshly’ and I find this very fitting as it truly speaks of those who walk after the flesh rather than in the Spirit! And in essence this could be phrased as, “the sons of the flesh are always liars, evil creatures and greedy and lazy”. For many this may seem to be a sad and misguided generalization; however what we see from Scripture is that if the Truth is not in you then you are a liar!
Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 2:4-5 “The one who says, “I know Him,” and does not guard His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever guards His Word, truly the love of Elohim has been perfected1 in him. By this we know that we are in Him.”
Those who walk in the flesh are never content and they are only seeking that which is for self gain, and are lazy in making any effort toward others!
What has all this got to do with me? You may ask – everything! What made Titos able to be the man for the job? In verse 4 Sha’ul reminds him who he is: Titos was a ‘genuine child according to the faith in Messiah’. That is what made him able to the task of straightening others out – he was the real deal and he walked the walk. Our ability to lead others in to the truth must be from the walk of walking in that Truth wholeheartedly otherwise we are only going to lead others astray and be unable to straighten out any crookedness in others. Titos was well skilled and well versed in the Word – a man who was man enough for the task – and let me remind you that Sha’ul had high standards – the very standards that are given to us in the Torah – nothing less, nothing more!
Titos had to be bold enough to rebuke those liars so that they become sound in their belief and we know that the Word is useful for rebuking:
Timotiyos Bet/2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is breathed by Elohim and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for setting straight, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of Elohim might be fitted, equipped for every good work.”
It is the Word that sets people straight and this is how Titos was to do it – by the teaching of the Word as he would have to set straight all the false and twisted teachings that had been corrupting so many. He goes on to remind him that all matters are clean to the clean, but those who are defiled and unbelieving, no matter is clean, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.
Now we can clearly understand why so many are not even bothered in their conscience when they are clearly walking out of line – simply because in their crookedness they do not see the clean for clean. Those with crooked bones are unable to rightly divide the Truth and they do not even bother about it – isn’t that so true of so many professing believers today – especially those of the Christian group! For they profess to know Elohim, but in their works they deny Him – being abominable and disobedient and unfit for any good work!
What we must understand here is that Titos was dealing with a people who were claiming to be upright and saved, yet their lives did not reflect any obedience to the Torah – it did not reflect the Good works that have been prepared for us in advance to do! These were a people who wanted the blessing but were following after the ways of the pagan moral and belief systems in their attempt at worshipping יהוה and were in need of setting things on order. יהוה is very clear in His word that we do not follow the ways of the nations and worship Him as they worship their false mighty ones. Look here at 3 portions from the Torah where יהוה makes it very clear:
Wayyiqra/Leviticus 18:3-5 “Do not do as they do in the land of Mitsrayim, where you dwelt. And do not do as they do in the land of Kenaʽan, where I am bringing you, and do not walk in their laws. 4 ‘Do My right-rulings and guard My laws, to walk in them. I am יהוה your Elohim. 5 ‘And you shall guard My laws and My right-rulings, which a man does and lives by them. I am יהוה.”
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 12 :28-32 “Guard, and obey all these words which I command you, that it might be well with you and your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the eyes of יהוה your Elohim. 29 “When יהוה your Elohim does cut off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, 30 guard yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire about their mighty ones, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their mighty ones? And let me do so too.’ 31 “Do not do so to יהוה your Elohim, for every abomination which יהוה hates they have done to their mighty ones, for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their mighty ones. 32 “All the words I am commanding you, guard to do it – do not add to it nor take away from it.”
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 18:9-14 “When you come into the land which יהוה your Elohim is giving you, do not learn to do according to the abominations of those gentiles. 10 “Let no one be found among you who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices divination, or a user of magic, or one who interprets omens or a sorcerer, 11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 “For whoever does these are an abomination to יהוה, and because of these abominations יהוה your Elohim drives them out from before you. 13 “Be perfect before יהוה your Elohim, 14 for these nations whom you are possessing do listen to those using magic and to diviners. But as for you, יהוה your Elohim has not appointed such for you.”
Some in Crete were also following after and paying attention to the Yehuḏi fables and commands of men who turn from the Truth. What is a fable? Well, pretty much anything that is sold as truth but is not!
This is a huge warning for us today too, as so many are leaning heavily toward the need to follow and pay attention to rabbinical teachings and insights that admittedly can come across as very ‘nice’ and appetising for us, yet we must be warned to not eat of their fruit as those teaching them are people who turn form the Truth and clearly are denying the Messiah – do not handle – do not touch – do not taste! Many today are coming out of the church (circus) system of perceived worship and going in the opposite direction or over to the other side of the road into another ditch falling prey to rabbinical sources and traditions in an attempt to have their bones set straight, or so they think so, and this will only cause them to be further deformed in the opposite direction.
Sha’ul goes on to tell Titos that he must simply speak truth; not what the fable speakers speak but that which is fitting for sound teaching – and that is the Word! Our lifestyle should be reflected by our obedience to the Word and this is what Titos was to teach – he was to teach what the older men were to be like, what the older women were to be like, urge the young men to be sensible of which Titos was to be an example of ‘good works’ – that is in leading a complete ‘torah observant’ life in all things, and in his teaching he was to show no corruptness whatsoever. You see when we stick to the Word and the word alone, then there will be little opportunity for any corruption to creep in! it is when we start to ‘add’ those seemingly harmless and ‘nice’ traditions that have no Scriptural instruction as its teaching that we can so easily lend ourselves to the danger of having our bones deformed further! Titos was to teach the believers how to live – why? Well because believers sadly have a way of forgetting how to live according to the commands and instructions of Elohim and easily forget just how important it is to live set-apart lives. But why is it that so many tend to forget so quickly?
Firstly, because we live in a ‘pagan’ world if you will – we are sojourners in a foreign land, and Titos, for example, was teaching in Crete – an island populated by… Cretans! A place populated by evil flesh hungering liars and gluttons. The believers living in Crete were surrounded by a people who were notorious for being pagans – those who did not acknowledge יהוה as Elohim, the Creator of the Heavens and the earth; and these people were well known for getting drunk, lacking self-control and the women were huge gossipers, who neglected their families, and the slaves too were liars and cheats and thieves, and as a nation they were known for people who disregarded any form of authority whatsoever. Pretty much sounds like where we all live today!
When you live within a pagan culture system it becomes easy to let obedience slip a little:
When you are surrounded by people telling crude jokes it can become hard not to laugh. When you spend time with people who constantly curse or use vulgar language it become hard not to pick up some of the sayings and mannerisms. When you are constantly surrounded by drunkards and swindlers it can be very difficult for many to refuse a glass or a challenge! When you spend time, be it at school or at work, where people cheat to get ahead – it becomes hard not to do the same just to get by and not lose out! Do you get the picture? I mean when almost everyone disobeys thee rules of the road, it becomes easier to do it too – and break the speed limit, jump robots and stop streets etc. – all because everyone does it – and the lawless approach within society can be very infectious! This is how the influence of a pagan society can grip, even the most sincere believers… and I could go on… and what Sha’ul is telling Titos in effect is that he must be teaching them that this must not be so! We heard this past week of a ‘Torah’ believer that had her bag stolen from her while she was shopping on the Sabbath!!! Need I say more!
Sadly it seems to be getting easier and easier for people to compromise when in essence the world’s ways are all about compromise to get ahead. It is called peer pressure and squeezes many a believer like you and me! What we are to be reminded of is that we are sojourners here and we need to heed the commands of יהוה that we may live as we wait for the blessed hope to come!
Tehillim/Psalm 119:19 “I am a sojourner in the earth; Do not hide Your commands from me.”
We must be careful not to get tied down to the world’s ways that we are unable to follow the ways of a called out people being cleansed for יהוה Himself as a treasured possession, always being ardent and full of zeal to do the ‘good works’ of the Torah in worship unto our Elohim and Saviour!
His saving gift has appeared to all – yes to all and teaches us to renounce all wickedness – the Torah teaches us set-apart living and it has appeared to all – but who will embrace it is the question – most will not – but we who are here have and we must therefore allow it to change us – break our bones if you will and set us straight in the Way, equipping us to live with reverence right here and now!
Titos was told to speak these matters and urge and convict with all authority and let no one despise him – and that is our call today. As a genuine child of the faith – speak these matters and be not despised!
He was to remind the believers to be subject to authorities and obey – you know what that means – you must adhere the road rules as an example – and all else, that is! There are some who are professing believers yet they will drive without license or drive an unlicensed car and excuse it away with petty reasons – this is not how a genuine child of the faith lives. What areas in your life are you not being genuine in your faith about – is there a bad habit that you just refuse to let go of – it may not be breaking any laws of the land, but it sure may be breaking your ability to be a genuine child of the faith able to teach and speak sound doctrine as your walk may be a little crooked! Chuck out – throw off – the habits that you know are not fitting for a genuine child of the faith ready to do good works; for if you do not, you are only crippling your walk and ability to be upright in Him – for what – a stupid little habit of the flesh that has you living like a Cretan?
Do not quarrel, but be gentle – this must have been tough for Titos – he needed the encouragement as many would be in his face when the Word would convict them. One thing we must not forget, and that is that we too were once as the Cretans were – all fleshly and hardly any spirit, serving lusts and pleasures etc.
But as we sit here we can all, I am sure, testify to the kindness and love of Elohim our Saviour and the more that we embrace and learn His Torah the more we understand it and the more we get to know our Elohim and Saviour. But what we must also be careful of is simply this – do not forget to apply that which you learn! There are far too many who are “knowledge hungry” and want to know all the facts and know all the verses in order to appear to be Set-apart before others yet what they are not hungry for is “righteousness” – as that is the ability to do what is commanded. Righteousness is a verb – it is an obedient response in living out the commands of Elohim! (Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 6:25!) There are so many who can recite many verses yet their life certainly does not reflect the standard of set-apart living which they so quickly and vainly confess with their lips. We are to get knowledge, yes, and get understanding and we are to study His Word, grow in His Word and meditate on His Word – day and night – so that we will be successful and prosperous in all that we do – not merely to hoard up knowledge so that we can win an argument –and let me tell you, there are many out there who are doing just that. I often get email requests for information on a Scripture, yet never to see the person engaging in torah observance or community living – they just want the knowledge to win some fights in order to look as though they know what the Word means, yet are never engaging in building torah fellowship and community – this is selfishness and is not fitting for a genuine child of the faith!
We must hear Sha’ul’s words here, especially chapter 3:8 “Trustworthy is the word, and in this regard I wish you to strongly affirm, that those who have believed in Elohim should keep their minds on maintaining good works. This is good and profitable to men.”
We have His trustworthy Word, and that is sufficient for us – we do not need fables, traditions or the commands of men – in order to maintain the Good Works of His Word. Let us keep our minds upon His word – that means that your mind is not to wander after the flesh like a gluttonous Cretan! And keep away from ‘foolish’ questions and genealogies and arguments and strife over the Torah – for quite frankly there is nothing to argue about – as Sha’ul says that it is unprofitable and useless! Get into questions of the Torah yes – for this is how we get to learn and grow –just stay away from foolish questions and you all know what I mean, and in the process of walking upright be prepared to reject a divisive man after the 1st and 2nd warnings! In other word there is always opportunity to reach one who is clearly divisive – but we reach him with the Word of truth which will itself be a warning to him. Iron sharpens iron is not having a fight or duel to the death with someone over matters of the Torah – in fact if you understand how iron is sharpened by iron then you would realise that it is done in a controlled manner with delicate precision. Iron is not ‘sharpened’ in a sword fight – in a fight it becomes blunt through use and therefore the sharpening needed is in the controlled environment of learning and growing as one yields to the teaching of Torah. Sadly so many today have the misconception that iron sharpens iron refers to those who rub you the wrong way and this is not true – that is battles – and for that your sword (that is His word in you) must be sharp and ready – in and out of season. The true sharpening comes when we engage weekly in immersing ourselves as a community in the Torah on the Shabbat!
The bottom line is this – if you do not live according to sound doctrine then quite frankly you do not believe sound doctrine – after all the word tells us that the righteous – that is those who are living righteous lives in keeping the Torah of Elohim – will live by faith – they will live by what they hear from the pure Word, for faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word and the faith of the righteous results in good works – that is His Torah commands for us here and now as a set-apart people!
Titos was confronted by a lot of issues that we are confronted with today – and some of you may still need a lot of straightening out to be done which may require a few bones to be broken in order to set you right on the path of righteousness, while others will have to be about setting straight many who you see each day. Be encouraged by the Word to know that we have His Truth and the mission He has given us to make disciples is not impossible for as Sha’ul wrote to the Pilipiyim/Philippians: 4:13 “I have strength to do all, through Messiah who empowers me.”
As we have gleaned through this short letter, my hope is that you are stirred unto good works and that your fervency to walk in righteousness grows immensely as you walk as a ‘genuine’ child according to the faith.
The word in the Greek for ‘genuine’ is γνήσιος (gnēsios) – Strong’s G1103 – and means ‘genuine, true, loyal and sincere’, but also carries the meaning of one who is ‘lawfully begotten or born’. We have been lawfully begotten through the Blood of Messiah –
Eph’siyim/Ephesians 2:11-13 “Therefore remember that you, once gentiles in the flesh, who are called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called ‘the circumcision’ made in the flesh by hands, 12 that at that time you were without Messiah, excluded from the citizenship of Yisra’ĕl and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no expectation and without Elohim in the world. 13 But now in Messiah יהושע you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah.”
We are His – legally begotten – the genuine children of the faith and now we who are now in Messiah must walk as He walked and seek out the lost sheep of Yisra’ĕl – we have a mission which is not impossible – we are no longer strangers to the covenants of promise but have been brought near by the Blood of Messiah and in Him we are straightened out and all our brokenness – our broken bones are made whole in Him – now we are to live like it – despite the Cretans that are around us.
This is “mission possible” – will you live it!!!