There are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. – Titus 1:10-11
Beware the danger of empty talkers.
The church in Crete was threatened by some within the community of faith who were nevertheless marked by rebellion. They were like those who enlist in the army, report for duty, and put on a uniform, but as soon as battle commences, they refuse to obey their commanding officer.
Such insubordinate individuals are, Paul says, “empty talkers.” They talk about nothing, but they make it sound as if it’s the most important thing that you’ve ever heard in your life. They want to deviate from the main things and the plain things of Scripture and get everybody to focus on the sidelines, on their traits. And shockingly, although they are “deceivers,” they are able to draw people after them.
Some people are peculiarly susceptible to this kind of nonsense. It’s not possible to have a product that sells unless you’ve got a market that is buying. If a congregation is not well versed in the truth, and if it doesn’t have elders like those described in Titus 1:5-9 to safeguard the flock, then it will be vulnerable to individuals who rise from among the believers and seek to draw the faithful away.
The greatest danger is not necessarily an all-out onslaught from outside the body of faith. More often than not, it is creeping and subtle, and it comes from inside. Those who deceive in this way are not necessarily easy to recognize. They won’t say, “Follow me, I’m turning away from the truth.” Rather, they say, “Follow me, because I know the key teachings that you need to believe. You need to make sure that you’re doing these things and not doing those things.”
The gospel is the amazing story that through Jesus and His work upon the cross, God completely transforms the lives of His children. Along with this change in our hearts, He gives us the unchanging truth of His word—and that truth is worthy of our prayers for the church and its elders. It is worth defending with all our might. So let Paul’s words be a reminder to guard against deceitful empty talkers and to be vigilant as you check your own heart. Listen to those whose words are full of grace and truth, and ensure that your own words are saturated with those two hallmarks of the true Christian life, too.