Paul uses strong language to attack the false teachers—legalists—in the church in Crete. He teaches Titus in this section how to protect the church from legalism: by preaching the gospel of God’s grace in Christ
1. Legalism vs. the Gospel
There are many ways Paul opposes legalism to the gospel in this passage. There are 6 ways we see Paul oppose them:
Legalism rebels against grace. It is fundamentally opposed to the gospel (Eph. 2:4-9).
Legalism centers on self, not Christ. It is about us, what we get and what we can do (Tit. 1:11).
Legalism puts human rules in God’s place. See Titus 1:14 and Colossians 2:17.
Legalism lies about God’s truth. Paul appeals to Crete’s reputation in Tit. 1:12-13 to show these legalists are opposed to gospel truth.
Legalism destroys the church. It overturns whole churches (Tit. 1:11) by undermining the foundation of the church—the gospel of Christ.
Legalism is plausible to broken people; the gospel makes no sense. See 1 Cor. 1:18.
2. Protecting Glory by Preaching the Gospel
Advice is a form of law—do this and you will live (better!). As a church, we want to give Christ before advice. To protect God’s glory in the church, we need to preach the gospel. This means we should:
Know the gospel.
Preach the gospel to yourself.
Preach the gospel to each other.
Reflection & Application Questions
1. Why is legalism so attractive to us?
2. Why is legalism so destructive to the church?
3. What is one way you see a tendency toward legalism in your life?
4. Do you know the gospel? Is it YOUR story? Does it define everything about you and direct all that you do in your life?
5. What does it mean to preach the gospel to yourself? If you want to better understand this, watch this great teaching from Jerry Bridges:
6. What does it mean to preach the gospel to each other in the church? What are some ways you can do this? What should you avoid when you try to do this?