A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.
These are some pretty powerful and straight forward words that Paul is saying here to Titus. If we go back to verse 3 we get the feel of what is leading up to these verses. Especially in verse 8 we will notice Paul saying good things and then he shows the opposite with the next few verses including these two above. Here are verse 3-8:
For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
We see very clearly God’s grace toward an undeserving people in these verses. Paul outlines who he was and who we were before Christ showed us His mercy! He also clearly points out that it was not by anything that we did no matter how outwardly righteous it appeared. It is strictly according to His mercy! And because He has given us a HOPE of eternal life, then that is why he says in verse 8 to be careful to maintain good works. It is not unto salvation but because of the hope that we have been given. Notice also that Paul specifies that “good works are good and profitable ’unto men’”. Our good works bring no profit unto God. Oh, but we can’t just leave it there. If you just take verse 8 at first glance, it seems to point towards conditions with implying that we are capable in and of ourselves to produce good works. But that is as far from the truth as possible. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul makes it abundantly clear that our good works have been ordained by God from before that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:1)
Then he contrasts what is good and profitable to men with this next verse and shows what is not good and not profitable. “But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.” (9)
But, what about debating with the law-mongers? If we can just discuss it more and more, then they will have to see where we are coming from. Right? WRONG!! Paul is saying exactly the opposite. He says very explicitly that we are to avoid contentions and strivings about the law, and to avoid foolish questions. We are to avoid genealogies also. How much time has been wasted in debates on these topics. We are not to attempt to persuade or convince anyone on these topics. The truth of God is only taught by the Spirit and the carnal mind cannot receive it.
Then Paul gets to our verse in view. Paul gets down with telling us what is unprofitable and vain and then dives right into saying, “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;” Notice that we are not to avoid the heretick, but we are to go to him and admonish him twice if need be. And if he still refuses to recognize truth, then we are to reject him. Seems pretty straight forward doesn’t it? I can hear it now, in fact I have been accused of it myself. If you reject me, then you just don’t really love me. You are supposed to dialogue with me, and show me my errors. And this dialogue can go on indefinitely, as long as you don’t reject me. Scripturally we are to go to them twice and admonish them, and if they blow you off and don’t adhere to the admonishment, then you are to reject them. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Is that too harsh for today’s Christendom? If it is, then today’s Christendom is not comprised with true believers.
But, what is Paul referring to here when he mentions “heretick”? The word means “fitted or able to take or choose a thing”, it also means “schismatic, factious, a follower of false doctrine.” It is only used once in the Bible and that is in our verses. So we are not able to cross-reference it in how it is used elsewhere in scripture. But, even with just this one time used, we see pretty clearly how it is used. A heretick is one who has been fitted to choose something that is schismatic and factious and thereby becomes a follower of false doctrine. And who has fitted him for this? It can only come from one source, God!
We also see from Paul’s letter to the Galatians that heresy is a work of the flesh.
Galatians 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
In the same order and thought pattern as this from the letter to Titus, is this verse from Paul’s letter to the Romans. In chapter 16 verse 17 he admonishes the Roman believers: “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned and avoid them.”
So, taking these two verses together, not only are we to reject but we are also to mark and avoid them. The word “reject” is in the imperative mood. Simply stated, the imperative mood expresses a command to the hearer to perform. It is imperative that it be done. It is not to be questioned, fondled, played with, or debated about. And Paul gives us the reason for the rejection. It is because they are condemned.