Another description that Paul gives to Titus regarding the identity of false teachers, dangerous dogs, is that they are “empty talkers.” This means to distract attention from a higher priority and occupy time with insignificant dialogue and discussion. In Paul’s writing we see him specifically address those who forbid others to marry, who command abstinence from certain foods, who command strict observance to Old Testament cultural practices like circumcision, Sabbath observations, and overall dietary restrictions.

I have chosen to call them “distracters.” If you’ve ever taken a multiple-choice test you know what a distracter is. Each question consists of three parts; the question itself, the correct option, and usually three distracters. The question is usually called the “stem” by test writers. It is often presented as an incomplete statement that only one of the options will accurately complete. The distracters present plausible substitutes for someone who hasn’t studied the subject thoroughly or who does not recognize the correct answer. The closer the distracters are to the truth, the more difficult it is to recognize the correct answer.

That’s the ploy of false teachers. They learned it from the master who comes as an “angel of light” to distract our attention from true truth to partial truth. One author put it well when he said, “The cornerstone of all quality life is truth. Truth, without any mixture of error, is absolutely essential to life. Whether in marriage or mathematics, social behavior or sexual mores, partial truth is no truth at all. Satan’s first approach to Eve was a classic example of how he works and a pattern from which he never varies…His approach was not ‘God has not said,’ rather ‘Did God really say that?’ He did not call God’s Word untrue. He simply raised the doubt. Are you sure it is true? It was only as Eve reeled beneath the staggering possibility God’s Word might not be true, that he spoke the lie, ‘You will not surely die.’ It was a very short mental journey from ‘Are you sure of God’s Word?’ to ‘You cannot be sure of God’s Word.’ Satan is the master of the subtle attack. Seldom does he come with a frontal assault on truth. Partial truth, half-truths, and deception are his constant ploy; and the first man and woman would be the first to learn this bitter lesson.” I would simply add many cult followers have fallen for the same distracter!

“Whatsoever things are true…think about these things.” Philippians 4:8