Titus 3: “One, Two, Three Strikes You’re Out!”

“I’m warning you…” These are the words of a teacher trying to maintain control in the classroom. These are words I heard quite often, followed by “…Mr. Spangenberg.”

…Before I Count To Three

It didn’t take much for me to cause havoc in the classroom, especially when I knew I had two strikes before I would get kicked out. I remember once when my third grade teacher said strike one, and I went into my best umpire voice… “Steeerrrikkkee One!”

Parent’s of little ones, let me let you in on a little secret. Counting to three only gives kids two more seconds to misbehave. In fact, a while ago I heard a mother in the grocery store say, “If I get to five…” Five? Now that’s a gift! That means I literally have 4 seconds, maybe even more if they count slow, to do whatever I want. As long as I don’t get to five, I’m good! The parents that really crack me up are the ones who start resorting to fractions: 2 – 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 – 2 3/4… Three! Get to three already!

You gotta know, my parents never counted. I remember wondering if they were just confused about what number came first, cause I never heard even the number “one” before my sentence was handed down. And my parents were judge, jury, and executioner!

In the final section of his letter to Titus, Paul tries to communicate one more time to avoid the godless chatter of the false teachers.

Titus 3:9-11 (NLT) Do not get involved in foolish discussions about spiritual pedigrees or in quarrels and fights about obedience to Jewish laws. These things are useless and a waste of time. 10 If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them. 11 For people like that have turned away from the truth, and their own sins condemn them.

As I read this part of the chapter I couldn’t help but think about the millions of unsaved people dying everyday while pastors and theologians debate about topics like predestination and eternal security. Think about it, in a time when we should be doing everything we can to share the gospel, we tend to make it more and more difficult for people to hear. I agree with Paul, “these things are useless and a waste of time.”

Then Paul gives the instructions to give two warnings before strike three. Paul concludes with the wisdom that people who are willing to fight and quarrel over “spiritual pedigrees” or “Jewish laws” have turned away from the truth.

In a day and age when truth is relative and there’s no such thing as absolute, we as the church need to be the voice for truth in the world. Don’t forget what we read in 1 Timothy 3:15b (NLT) This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth. We need to affirm that there is such a thing as absolute truth.

As we wrap up, I thought it would be helpful to have some additional scripture to encourage those who have turned away from the truth.

  • John 17:3 (NLT) And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.
  • John 17:17 (NLT) 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.
  • John 18:37 (NLT) 37 Pilate said, “So you are a king?” Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”
  • John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.