Avoid Foolish Controversies

Text: Titus 3:9

There always have been, and always will be, controversies over matters of religion and what the Bible teaches. Some people want to avoid controversy altogether – Christians cannot do this (Jude 3). Others are too quick to get involved in controversy – we must not do this either (Titus 3:9). As controversies arise among brethren, with those in the denominational world, and in the world in general, we need to try to join controversies when necessary and only when necessary. There are a few things we need to be sure of before entering into any controversy.

Be Sure There is a Good Reason

  • We are to “avoid foolish controversies” (Titus 3:9) because they are unprofitable and worthless
  • We are not to “wrangle about words” (2 Timothy 2:14) because it is useless and leads the hearers to ruin
  • But some controversy has a good reason (Jude 3; 2 Corinthians 10:5)
  • What is the difference? … good controversy is designed to lead people to Christ or to keep them from falling away from the faith; foolish controversy is arguing for the sake of arguing and disputing over things that are not matters of faith

Be Sure You Appeal to the Right Standard

  • When we engage in controversy, we are to try to take thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) – this is done by destroying speculations/arguments; to do this we must use the weapon of our warfare, the word of God (2 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:17)
  • In any controversy, we must make our appeal to Scripture – it is truth (Psalm 119:160)
  • Not only are the Scriptures true, but the truth is settled (Psalm 119:89) and understandable (Ephesians 3:4)
  • If we cannot make our appeal to Scripture, we do not need to be contending earnestly (Jude 3)

Be Sure You Have a Good Attitude

  • Our goal must not be to make a name for ourselves (principle of Matthew 6:1)
  • Our goal must not be to gain a following (Acts 20:30; 2 Corinthians 4:5)
  • Must have an attitude of love (Ephesians 4:15)
  • Teach (contend) without being quarrelsome (2 Timothy 2:24)

Be Sure You Practice the “Golden Rule”

  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:12)
  • How would we want to be treated? … attack the arguments, not the person; represent your opponent accurately (do not build a straw man)

Be Sure You Examine Yourself

  • Jesus warned against making hypocritical judgments (Matthew 7:1-5) – principles apply to our topic
  • Fairness (Matthew 7:2) – are we representing our opponent and the Scriptures accurately?
  • Must see clearly (Matthew 7:3-5) – ex: if you do not understand and cannot articulate the basics of Bible authority, how can you tell your denominational friends that they are wrong for using instruments of music in worship?
  • The goal is correction (Matthew 7:5) – are we trying to bring them to the truth?

Be Sure There is a Commitment to Objectivity

  • Remember that the standard is God’s word – this is where we must go (Isaiah 8:20), and where our opponents must be willing to go
  • Search the Scriptures – not just to prove a point or to justify yourself (John 5:39; 2 Peter 3:16), but to find the truth (Acts 17:11)
  • If a question comes up that you cannot answer, do not answer it – go to the word of God (Isaiah 8:20) and study to find the truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Be Sure You Are Willing to Take a Stand

  • Jude tells us to “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3)
  • Stand firm in what has been taught (2 Thessalonians 2:15)
  • Stand firm against error (1 Timothy 1:3)


  • Different controversies will arise from time to time – some demand our involvement; others are foolish
  • Let us be careful to avoid foolish controversies – focus efforts on necessary controversies
  • Remember that our goal must always be to lead people to the truth

(Adapted from a sermon by Warren Berkley.)

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