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Warning: Two Strikes and You're Out, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
March 8, 2022 12:00 am

Warning: Two Strikes and You're Out, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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March 8, 2022 12:00 am

In Titus 3, the Apostle Paul gives an interesting command to Titus to warn a divisive person twice and, then, if he or she still doesn't repent, break fellowship with them. This is a harsh punishment. What is Paul referring to as 'divisive'? Is it bickering and quarreling between church members or something more? Pastor Stephen Davey tells us in part one of his message 'Warning: Two Strikes and You're Out.'



Paul will tell the congregation in Colossae, Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another. That word admonish literally means to correct one who is at fault. And get this, it's the same root word that Paul uses here in Titus 3 for warning them. When we encounter church members with a contentious spirit, we want to try to help them change and repent of that sin.

That would be the ideal outcome. But we all know that it doesn't always work that way. Sometimes there is no repentance. In those situations, God mandates a more severe response.

It's actually a very difficult command to obey. But unity in the church is so important that God commands the removal of contentious people after two warnings. Stay with us as Stephen Davey explains this biblical truth in today's lesson called, Warning, Two Strikes and You're Out. If you look back at the text, Paul describes this factious person with three descriptive words or phrases. Knowing, verse 11, knowing that such a man is, here it is first of all, perverted.

It's the only time you find that word in that form in the New Testament. And you might think he's referring to sexual immorality with the idea of perversion. He's not. The word he's using is a word that refers to a person whose mind is turned around. He's just, you could use the word slanted.

He's tilted. Whenever slanted, skewered thinkers direct traffic in the assembly, collisions are going to take place. Paul goes on secondly to say they're not only slanted, but they are sinning. In other words, they think they represent the truth, but they've missed the target. They think they've hit a bullseye with their opinion or their perspective, but they haven't even hit the side of the barn. They've actually wandered off the path.

They are completely missing the mark. That's what he has in mind. You'll notice thirdly, he says of them, not only are they slanted and sinning, but they are self-condemned. Paul writes he knows what he's doing and what he's saying all along. That's why you don't have to give them two, three, or three, five, six, ten warnings. Eugene Goetz writes in his commentary, the problem with dealing with an individual like this and why they only get two strikes is because they are receiving at this point emotional satisfaction from creating controversy in the church. I mean, to them, this is great. They must be stopped, he writes.

In fact, he says in his commentary, there is only one recourse for Titus and that is radical surgery. But give him a warning and then another. In fact, the word used for warning here is a wonderfully loaded word. It's a compound word that means to put to the mind.

It's the root word we've used to create new thetic counseling, put to the mind the truth. So this isn't then just one cryptic quick warning. This is more like an extended conversation in that first warning where you put to their mind. That is you expose to them the error of their way. You expose to them, you bring to their mind the potential consequences according to the scriptures. You bring to them the damage they are doing. And that's why you only need one more warning after that.

Why? Because they got it the first time. They understood it.

So after the second warning, they're pulled out of the game, so to speak. They're not going to quit on their own. Kent Hughes, pastor for many years, wrote that's because they actually love the fight. They enjoy the tantalizing controversy. They thrive on being the person in the know.

And the one who really has the story straight. They love the shock on people's faces when they tell them what so and so did or said. And their favorite expression in the assembly is something like, you won't believe what I found out. And the division begins kind of creeping and crawling like poison ivy through the body.

And unsuspecting people just happen to wander in. And infection begins to spread. Another pastor of many years, Chuck Swindoll, who wrote in his commentary on this verse with seasoned wisdom and advice, now in his middle 70s, he writes, The battle-hardened apostle wanted to prepare his young protege, Titus, for the conflicts awaiting him. Effective spiritual leadership does everything with compassion, but never at the expense of conviction. It never fails to confront when necessary.

Then he uses the same medical analogy that Gene Getz, his associate on the faculty, used to be used. He said, Just as a surgeon must cut out diseased tissue, so leaders in churches must confront those who would infect the body of Christ with discord and divide congregations into factions. Then he gives this particular pointed warning to those in leadership. If the pastor Elder Shepherd is not willing to love his congregation enough to risk misunderstanding and criticism, he should step aside and choose another less hazardous occupation.

Well put. I mean, isn't that like saying, you know, if a baseball umpire isn't quite able to bring himself to call the batter out, if he isn't able to say that's strike three, you are out, he really ought to be in another profession, because the entire game can be ruined. The warning light is on.

You can't be among those who would say, well, I don't have time to fix it, it's going to cost too much, and maybe that person will just fix themselves all by themselves. Paul makes it painfully clear here, have conversation, have warning, put it to their mind, and if they fail to respond because they don't want to, because they prefer the fight, remove them. Which means, as ironic as this sounds as I study this text, Paul's solution to dealing with a divisive person is to create division.

Did you catch that? There will be a division, but it is to be a division between the flock and the person who persists in their unrepentant, divisive agenda. He or she is no longer allowed access to the body, there is a division. Their access, their platform as it were, to the congregation is taken away. The flock then is thus protected from that divisive spirit, that slanted mindset that is creating and can create havoc in the flock.

Yes, there will be a division. It will be painful, time consuming, hurtful, emotional, even tearful. But the flock will divide this factious person away from themselves so that he or she can no longer continue in their unrelenting, undermining attempts to create division among the flock. By the way, you combine this text with the other text of the Apostle Paul, and he makes it clear that there is to be no readmission until there is evidence of genuine repentance, a changed mind. What the church then becomes is an outward demonstration, a tool in the Father's hand to reveal what has occurred physically in the loss of fellowship, spiritually the loss of fellowship with the Father. The church demonstrates what the Father is feeling. The church demonstrates what has occurred in the loss of fellowship between the child and their Savior in demonstrating a loss of fellowship between the child, the member, and the flock. Fellowship has been broken.

Division has occurred. And we who are left in the body pray that that breach will be restored, not only between believers, but between this unrepentant believer and his Savior. Now, if you put together the various passages on dealing with excluding unrepentant believers from the church, you're going to discover action taking place on a couple of different levels. And by the way, I said something fairly quickly.

Let me go back to make sure we understand exactly that key word I used. Excluding unrepentant believers, unrepentant sinners. If we excluded all sinners from the assembly, who would be in here this morning? Paul is talking about a sinning believer who was warned and then warned again for his divisive spirit. He's counseled. He's exhorted. He's brought perhaps before leadership on more than one occasion. He's pled with to change his mind, to leave that slanted perspective to see the larger picture, to stop his divisive and disobedient behavior.

But he refuses. At that point, action takes place on two levels, decisive action. The first level is on the level of leadership.

And the primary focus, if you take all of the texts involved, certainly this one to Titus, and this would be primarily applied at least foremost in his mind to Titus as the elder and the other elders that he appoints in these churches. The primary focus at this point is on being protective. They are actually attempting to protect this person from themselves. Leadership perhaps becomes aware at some point that this individual is effectively living a dangerous life of distorted values, maybe a twisted sense of self-importance. Remember Paul has said that their thinking is upside down, it's inside out, it's slanted. Leadership understands that this kind of person is going to do nothing more than dismantle their lives.

The price tag is going to be paid out over and over again throughout perhaps the rest of their lives. Greater danger is ahead. One Christian put it this way, he said, My most painful experiences have been when I've had a problem or a sin in my life and no one loved me enough to tell me about it, confront me about it. Leadership attempts to protect a brother or sister by exposing their sin and confronting their spirit. This is really just one aspect of discipleship. Has it ever occurred to you that discipline and discipleship come from the same root word?

When those attempts fail and the person effectively refuses to be discipled, leadership then attempts to protect the flock, to protect the flock. And that's why I think in this particular genre of thought, in Titus chapter 3, you don't have the lengthy steps of Matthew chapter 18, where in Matthew's gospel you have witnesses and several steps of corroborating evidence and public warnings, et cetera, et cetera. There have been a few that tried to stuff Matthew 18 into Titus chapter 3 and the language just doesn't allow it and it made me wonder why would it be so decisive, warned twice and then dismissed. It's quite possible that Paul is concerned that Titus take a quicker path simply because a divisive person is capable of influencing so many people so quickly in such a short amount of time it can race through an assembly, especially a smaller church. It can become the focus. I have seen it rip, especially those smaller congregations apart. If Titus will be decisive, a tremendous amount of intrigue, a tremendous amount of drama and further taking of sides will no longer quite make it to center stage when it's dealt with. Put it this way, Titus is told and we're told the same thing today to effectively put out the campfire before it becomes a forest fire. It will spread.

Deal with this on the level of leadership. When I was in South America it was interesting. I met with groups of pastors in Venezuela and Colombia and planning Lord willing to head to Ecuador this coming summer for a few Lord's days and some rallies. I found it very interesting as just a quick announcement was made that any pastor could come.

We had 50 in each city come and among their top three questions. The question was this one, how do you deal with an unrepentant person in the body tearing the churches apart? The entire flock ends up suffering. I remember learning this early on without understanding what the Bible really said about it all, but I remember as a college student my senior year for a while serving as a music pastor in a church where I led the choir and the congregational singing.

I wished I had had the talent of our friend Richard. I'll never forget this, in the choir it was already buzzing and I was in there very long before some leaders within the choir came to me and they said, listen Stephen you need to understand that the leading soloist in our choir is having an affair with a man in town and we don't know what to do about it. She happened to be the daughter of one of the leading deacons in the church. So I went to the pastor and I assumed he didn't know.

And I said you know here's what's going on and I'll never forget he kind of scrunched up his nose and wiped his forehead and he said well you know we really can't be sure, we probably ought to just leave it alone. I said well half the choir is pretty sure, that's all they're talking about. Shouldn't we get to the bottom of it, at least find out, which he never did biblically. And I watched that one woman impede the effective forward movement of that little church.

It was on everybody's minds. Dealing with sin will involve the level of leadership. Secondly, dealing with sin will involve the level of membership. In other words the body gets involved, those who are aware.

And you're not to say well you know we'll let the professionals handle that. No, that's not what the Bible says. While the primary focus of leadership is protective, at the point of awareness the primary focus of the body is proactive. In fact Paul will tell the congregation in Colossae, that little church, he'll write this to them and we know this text, but I want to point out something that you may not be aware of. He said it this way, let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, literally call the shots to which indeed you were called in one body, that is be unified and be thankful while you're at it. And let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another. That word admonish literally means to correct one who is at fault. And get this, it's the same root word that Paul uses here in Titus 3 for warning them. Admonish one another is the same word for warn them. Paul is saying to the Colossian believers, certainly to the Cretan believers, to literally be proactive, to be on the lookout, to be engaged in a life style that involves quick and ready warnings out of love.

You, you're not looking for the speck with a log sticking out of your eye, certainly. But you see that brother or sister wandering off the path, you see them growing slanted, you hear them justifying sinful decisions. You don't say, well, I'm going to tell the leaders, you get involved. In the flock there are a myriad of issues that can create disgruntled and disagreement and deception. And Paul effectively challenges the congregation, don't wait. You know, don't wait for it to leave the pasture and the flock and make its way to the shepherds. Council admonish one another.

Let me share some practical experience in this regard that may surprise you. Those of you who are in leadership, it won't. But the membership of a church will most often know about a divisive issue and or a divisive person before the leadership is even aware of a problem. After 26 years of pastoring, I can tell you firsthand that leaders most often find out about something only after the die is cast, only after the car is going off the cliff, after the division has taken root, after someone has made up their mind to leave, after a decision is misinterpreted or misunderstood, after the gossip kind of makes the rounds. I've often commented to elders on our elder team that I don't even think I'm a grape on the grapevine because I don't hear this stuff. After the disagreement has reached this boiling point, it is most often when leadership finds out. So according to Paul and in the wisdom of God, proactivity occurs among the parishioners.

You're probably going to spot it before we do. You then offer prayer. You then offer another side of the story if you can or you promise to go with them to work it out. You offer counsel.

You give the benefit of the doubt. Remind them of that. Remind them of the danger of divisiveness, disrespect. Remind them of the trouble that they're heading for as they pursue this errant path. The body literally holds one another accountable. John Wesley, you heard, in fact we sang Charles one of his hymns a few moments ago. John Wesley, who with his brother founded the Methodist movement, developed a series of questions posed to people who were considering joining their churches. You won't believe these questions.

I mean, you think we got it tough here with this 12-week greenhouse class that goes on forever and ever. No, wait, wait. How about these questions?

You ready? Five of them. Number one, does any sin inward or outward have dominion over you? Number two, do you desire to be told of your faults? Number three, do you desire to be told of all your faults? Number four, do you desire that in doing this we should come as close as possible and search your heart to the bottom? Last question, do you desire to be on this and on all other occasions entirely open without disguise and without reserve? I mean, who's going to join that church? You know what happened? That church exploded as a movement.

In fact, you go back into American history and you'll discover that the Methodist church was at one point the church planting Protestant denomination. Who's going to join this? People who are willing because they recognize the stakes are so high to be warned and admonished and encouraged to be real and genuine and unified. My younger brother now about to begin his second round of intensive chemotherapy for an aggressive brain tumor. Many of you are praying for him. He's on our prayer list. He is so grateful for that, by the way. He and his family live in Charlotte.

Went to the hospital this past week to have a feeding tube inserted. He's lost a lot of weight and strength and needs to build that up before they can begin the second round. And he has a great spirit and attitude and realistic and yet at the same time trusting the Lord. He called me last night and he said, what are you doing?

I knew it was the medication. I said, well, Saturday night I'm working on my sermon, but I can talk to you. My sermon will be shorter.

The congregation will love me for that. Well, it isn't really shorter after all, but talk away. We talked for an hour.

Had a great time. When he went into the hospital, they put a wristband on him that had the words printed on it. Fall risk. Fall risk. He was at risk of falling. So he wore that wristband so that the staff and everyone around him would know that he could fall, he could stumble, and they needed to be alert. His wife, Melinda, put a picture of that bracelet online and as I saw it, I couldn't help but agree that this was a wonderful metaphor for every one of us. Maybe we ought to distribute those wristbands. All of us wear them to remind ourselves that we are at risk of falling. I know I am.

Do you know that about yourself? We really need people, the body, to be alert, to realize that we could bring something to someone that could cause them greater harm than it would ever do us. We may engage them or involve them in something that could ruin the joy of their testimony.

We need to remember we are at great risk of tripping, stumbling, falling. Every one of us can become slanted in our perspective, distorted in our values, disobedient in our actions, sinful in our choices. We bring it in here and we can create division, we can hurt our testimony, we can hinder the joy of the flock and the assembly, which is where we should be coming to retreat before our Lord, before getting back out there as light and soul. We can diminish, because of our disunity, the awareness of our world for the great glory of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. So listen church, Paul is effectively writing here, the stakes are high, be unified. Although you are incredibly diversified, be in your doctrine centralized and in your efforts energized to see the gospel multiplied. Let your life be divinely authorized so that the truth through you can be synthesized and keep your heart entirely mesmerized on your great God whom you wish to see glorified. Thanks for joining us today here on Wisdom for the Heart. This is an important lesson for all church leaders and church members.

Stephen called this message, warning, two strikes and you're out. Wisdom for the Heart is the Bible teaching ministry of Stephen Davey. Stephen pastors the Shepherd's Church in Cary, North Carolina.

You can learn more about us if you visit our website, which is Once you go there, you'll be able to access the complete archive of Stephen's Bible teaching ministry. We also post each day's broadcast, so if you ever miss one of these lessons on the radio, you can go to our website to keep caught up with our daily Bible teaching ministry. The archive of Stephen's teaching is available on that site free of charge and you can access it anytime at

While you're there, we have a gift for you. During the month of March, we have a free resource that we're making available. Stephen has a booklet called The Coming Tribulation. In it, he explores the future period of time known as the Great Tribulation.

This is a great resource to help you understand what the Bible says about the coming tribulation. This book is a free digital download that's available from our website. Go to for information. There's a link on the home page that will direct you. Join us again next time here on Wisdom for the Hearts. We'll be right back.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-26 07:13:52 / 2023-05-26 07:23:16 / 9

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