As Paul wraps up Chapter 1 of his letter to Titus he explains how Titus should direct his ministry towards setting people free in Christ. His biggest battle is to prevent the new Christians from being taken in by false teachers who will assert their rituals, practices and fanciful stories that distract believers from the central truth of Jesus Christ. He challenges Titus to rebuke strongly those who misplace their focuses and attempt to distract others with the hope they will see their error and return to the simple truths of the Gospel. Yet, there are those who have already made up their minds regarding certain stories (myths), practices and rituals and divide the church by rejecting the authority of the Apostles and Scripture. Titus is to focus on those who might be taken in by such false teachers and in verse 14 he exhorts Titus to do what he can to prevent these new believers from turning from the truth and “devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.” (Titus 1:14)

This verse is a reference to Isaiah’s condemnation of Israel’s religious leaders who have perverted the truth to gain an advantage. He says “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.” (Isaiah 29:13) Just as Israel turned away from the truth, so too did many in the church at Galatia and all of us face that same danger.

Jesus came to affirm for us God’s truth in all its dimensions. He tells us that the truth will set us free from the “commands of man” and give us new life. Many Christians do not feel free at all. I frequently connect with those who still struggle with guilt and fear because of something that they were taught or experienced in their past. I struggle with those things as well. I still contend that the truth will set us free. Jesus also said in the same context that a true disciple “abides in His Word.” We must spend quality time at the feet of Jesus. If we do not learn the truth we remain chained by our own ignorance and still have superstitious fears and doubts. It’s God’s truth that sets us free and when we turn from it, we turn back to being slaves. The Scriptures explain all we need and teaches us what’s right and wrong and what really matters in life. We can learn where and how to commit our lives. We can indeed know the truth, continue living in the truth, and that truth will set us free! But we’ve got to make Christ the center of it all, not a peripheral addition to man-made preferences of rituals, practices and or stories.

“But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” (Titus 3:9)