Titus 1:9 [An overseer or elder] must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
The trustworthy message was that only Christ’s death on the cross could rescue us from the eternal penalty of our sins. Paul refers to this as sound doctrine. While the term “doctrine” might feel stuffy or foreign to us, a direct translation of the words would be healthy teaching. If Titus chooses leaders with unhealthy teachings, the message would become muddied up with other ideas, philosophies, and sinful human influences. When the message is muddied and is no longer sound, it is open to corruption.
Paul then explores the contrast between those who hold to sound doctrine and those who have muddied the gospel message:
Titus 1:15-16 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.
Although these other teachers claim authority and claim to represent God, their actions betray them:
How do they treat their family, conduct themselves, and interact with others?
Is their teaching healthy, do they speak of faith alone in Jesus…or do they add in other conditions?
Paul calls those that proclaim to be teachers but are actually corrupted and do not believe to be detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good. While those terms might seem harsh to us, it is their muddied message, the unhealthy teaching which does not rely on Christ that makes them this way.
If their teaching disqualifies them from doing anything good, obviously those that listen to them won’t fare any better. Which is why Paul says to Titus in the next verse:
Titus 2:1 You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.
It matters who we listen to. Don’t believe what they say, just because they claim to know God. Check them out, make sure their teaching is sound and healthy.