The New King James titles this section "The Elder's Task." It covers instructions to the ministry in their job to protect the church from false teachers. In this section is the famous verse 12, "Cretans are always liars," and then he talks about those who are preaching Jewish fables and teaching the commandments of men.
Paul is giving general guidelines to Titus, the pastor on Crete, to help him to read the motives of the people who were affecting the congregation. One might say he was helping Titus to read their fruit. Does not scripture say, "You will know them by their fruits?" This is one of Christ's prime teachings in the Sermon on the Mount so that we would know the wolves that come among the flock. Paul is doing this same with Titus except putting it into different words.
He is telling the ministry that they have to get inside the heads of the people to sense the type of people that they are. Ministers have to be able to "read their minds" by observing what they say and do. This is not a Gestapo action, but an exercise to protect the flock. Among a minister's primary jobs is to ensure that no one has entered the flock who does not belong there, and to usher him out, if need be, to protect the rest of flock.
Oftentimes, goats come in among the sheep, and the goats need to be chased off due to their contrary influence on the sheep. Matthew 25 is clear about where the sheep end up, and where the goats end up.
Paul is instructing Titus in how to do his job—how to protect the flock of which he was made leader.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Is God in All Our Thoughts?
God does care how we worship Him; He gives specific commands about how He wants to be glorified according to His standards and not our own. It does matter whether or not we share in the celebration of this world's pagan religious holidays. Though the Bible—the Word of God—makes no direct references to New Year's Eve, Lent, Easter, Halloween, or Christmas, the origins of these pagan holidays are mentioned as being abominations to God.
Martin G. Collins
Most of this world's holidays are based on fables, myths, and lies, while the Christian is commanded to worship God "in spirit and in truth." A true Christian does not lie and does not associate with lies, but seeks after truth in all aspects of life. If we live with a little lie now, then it is much easier to live with a worse lie later. God is emphatic on this point: A liar will not enter the Kingdom of God (Revelation 21:7-8).
Martin G. Collins
Reflect on Genesis 3. What did Satan do in the Garden of Eden? He promoted disbelief of God, and this lies at the root of the difference between us and those in the world, whom Paul characterizes as turning from the truth.
Can a person be a Christian without believing? Can a Christian pick and choose what to believe and what not to believe? Satan has deceived the whole world (Revelation 12:9), and he deceives by subtly promoting disbelief of God's Word. It is so simple. And there it is, brought to our attention right at the very beginning of the Book. It is related so very simply to help us understand a principle that can be the foundation of great understanding and insight.
In Genesis 3, God clearly shows what delineates His people from the world. What Adam and Eve did was lay the foundation of the world. The world as we now see it, with all its cultures and all of its political, educational, economic, business and religious systems, grew or was built following the same general pattern of disbelief in what God said. Our world contains that same general pattern of good and evil—some from God, some from Satan.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian and the World (Part 2)
He begins by accusing the Cretans, but then he mentions Jewish fables, and the Jews, too, become part of those he is accusing. It may be that the Cretans of whom Paul speaks may have actually been ethnic Jews who had had contact with persecuting Jews from outside Crete.
What is he accusing these people of? Of a practice that follows the Israelitish people in every age: believing that God indeed exists but showing by their conduct that they do not truly believe Him. He charges them with exposing in their behavior that they do not believe that they are truly, personally answerable to the sovereign God. In other words, they do not fear Him. The reality of what God truly is and requires has not affected them enough to make a difference in how they live their lives in actual day-to-day practice.
Since we live within this environment, it brings up a question for us to resolve: How can we live by faith if we do not have sufficient knowledge of the greatness, the closeness, and the awesome grace of God shown in the mercy He has already given? It is this mercy that allows us to begin even the barest of a relationship with Him, build on it, and come to know Him and fear Him.
A recent Barna poll revealed that over 80% of Americans believe God exists, but that belief has little influence on their conduct. Just about anything goes in this nation anymore. The great immorality of the American people reveals that they are not very concerned about being answerable to Him. Considering what has happened in Israel's history, should we not be concerned about what this might lead to in the near future?
John W. Ritenbaugh
Fully Accepting God's Sovereignty (Part One)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Titus 1:14: