The charge the apostle Paul gave to Titus about the tradition and conduct of the Cretans has been on my mind lately. Paul says to Titus, “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” (Titus 1:12-13).
Every group of people has a set of beliefs and traditions that are contrary to the teaching of the Bible. And these beliefs tend to be so imbedded in our fabric that they become our normal way of life. The Cretans were known for being liars, evil beasts and lazy gluttons, and Paul writing to Titus urges him to rebuke them sharply and confront them with the truth of Scripture (sound doctrine) so that they may live according to the teaching of Scripture and not according to the unbiblical teaching of their culture and tradition taught by people who do not adhere to the truth of God’s Word.
Lying and hypocrisy
I may be pushing the generalization here, but it is safe to say lying is an acceptable vice in our society. Growing up, parents taught children how to lie by giving them threats that they never intended to follow through or instructing them to tell visitors they are not home when they are sleeping perfectly. How many times do people promise to make an appointment at a certain hour and show up an hour late? Schools have to battle exam malpractice because cheating is a common trend. People go to funerals and feign crying in order to keep up appearances, and when the majority of our political leaders speak, they promise heaven on earth and reality is screaming otherwise. Jesus made it very clear the devil is the father of liars (John 8:44), and those who are Christians must put off lying (Colossians 3:8-11).
There is a saying in Bemba, “Ubuchende bwamwaume tabupwisha chupo,” meaning a man’s mischievous immoral behavior is not grounds for breaking a marriage. In other words it is normal and expected for men to live immoral lives because they are “men”. In fact when brides are being prepared for marriage they are taught to expect their husband to cheat on them, and they have to learn endurance and keep the home. This is wickedness, and as you would expect the Bible does not tolerate such nonsense. The Bible teaches that husbands must be selfless in loving their wives to the point of been willing to die for them (Ephesians 5:23-28); it teaches holiness and purity in the marriage (Hebrews 13:4), and it also gives adultery as grounds for divorce in cases where reconciliation is unattainable (Matthew 19:3-9).
The grace of God has appeared to all men teaching us to deny ungodliness
Thankfully, regardless of the culture and tradition we grow up in, there is no person who is beyond redemption. Paul’s words to Titus in the very next chapter should be an encouragement to all when he says, “ For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14).