Sound Doctrine: A Litmus Test For Christian Leadership

It would be impossible to overemphasize the importance of sound doctrine in the life of a Christian. Right thinking about all spiritual matters is imperative if we would have right living. As men do not gather grapes of thorns nor figs of thistles, sound character does not grow out of unsound teaching.
(Aiden Wilson Tozer)

The Apostle Paul’s epistle to Titus was written when Titus was working as a missionary to the Island of Crete. At the time, Crete had many churches, but these churches did not have effective leaders and teachers. So the Apostle Paul told Titus how to select, qualify and appoint leaders to the churches in each of these towns. Titus was told to choose these leaders carefully and that each of these leaders were to be of good character, kind, holy and honest. These leaders and teachers were required to teach the Word of God with acuuracy.

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you– if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
(Titus 1:5-9 ESV)

Paul’s epistle to Titus is an important litmus test to qualify church leaders and Bible teachers. This was a very important task for Titus to accomplish. Titus was encompassed by candidates that were trying to convince believers to follow in their teachings and traditions, contrary to the Word of God. These candidates were deceitful, they professed that they had a relationship with God, however, their actions (fruits) proved in fact that they denied God.

For 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. One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
(Titus 1:10-16 ESV)

The Apostle Paul admonished Titus not to argue with those candidates who taught unsound doctrines. He told Titus to warn such a person only twice and then to have nothing more to do with them.

But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.
(Titus 3:9-11 ESV)

The Book of Titus should still be used today as a litmus test to see if a candidate for ministry (an elder, pastor, deacon or even a teacher) is qualified. If they are not qualified and continue to attempt to fulfill a ministerial role within any congregation or form of religious teaching of the Word of God, then Paul warned us that such a person is warped, sinful, detestable, disobedient and unfit for ministry, and that these people should be disassociated with entirely.

We would have much better congregations if all alleged leaders and teachers were held up to these standards as we have been commanded to do.