Biblical Womanhood Bible Study

Imperishable Beauty: Lesson 8- Beautiful Biblical Obedience

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Read These Selected Scriptures

In lesson 7, we examined the concepts of loving God’s Word and being good students of God’s Word as important parts of biblical womanhood. But being a godly woman doesn’t stop there. We also have to obey God’s Word.

Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review lesson 7 and consider the significance to biblical womanhood of knowing and loving God’s Word. How does knowing and loving God’s Word lead to and impact obeying God’s Word? Is it necessary to know and love all parts of God’s Word before obeying any part of God’s Word? Why or why not?

2. Study the Luke, Philippians, and Hebrews passages. Who is our ultimate example of obedience to God? To what extent did Jesus obey God (until it was inconvenient, costly, etc.)? How would you describe Jesus’ obedience to God and His written Word during His life on earth? In what ways does Jesus’ obedience set an example for your obedience to God’s Word? To what extent do you obey God? Has there ever been an instance in your life in which you disobeyed God because obeying Him would have been too costly? Considering Jesus’ example, is it ever OK with God for you to disobey Him because it’s too difficult?

3. Examine the James passage. Make a two-column chart displaying the differences between hearers of the Word and doers of the Word. What does James mean when he says that mere hearers of the Word deceive themselves? How does being a doer of the Word grow your understanding of the Word and your trust in God? What is the “perfect…law of liberty”? How do we “persevere” in that law, and why/how does persevering in that law bring blessing?

4. According to the 1 John 2&5 passages, loving obedience to God’s commands indicates two things about Christians: that we ____ God (2:3) and that we ____ God (5:3). In what ways does obeying God’s commands indicate that we truly know God (i.e. we’re saved)? In what ways does obeying God’s commands indicate that we love God? Why are God’s commands not burdensome (5:3) for the Christian?

5. Contrast the 1 John 2&5 passages with the chapter 3 passage. Is John saying that committing a single sin means you aren’t saved, or is he comparing a generally obedient lifestyle with a generally sinful lifestyle as an indicator of a saved person vs. a lost person?

6. Read the story of Saul’s disobedience to God’s Word in 1 Samuel 15. What did God tell Saul to do? (2-3) How did Saul disobey God? (8-9) When Samuel came to confront Saul in his disobedience, how did Saul respond? (13,20) Why, in Saul’s mind, did he think, or try to justify, that He had obeyed God? (15,21) What was the consequence to Saul for disobeying God’s clear instruction? (23,26,28)

What is/are the key verse(s) in this chapter? Explain how verses 22-23a summarize the main point God is teaching us by including this story in the Bible. Is “doing great things for God” that you’ve dreamed up ever an excuse for disobeying His clear written Word?

Describe the blame-shifting Saul engaged in (15,21,24), and compare/contrast Saul’s use of the personal pronoun “I” (13,20) in connection with obedience with “they/the people” (15,21,24) in connection with disobedience. Considering that disobeying the king’s orders was punishable by death, describe how flimsy this excuse was. Does God allow us to blame others for our disobedience?

7. Why does God require that we obey Him? Explain how our obedience a) glorifies God, b) is a testimony of the gospel to the lost, and c) is best for us, personally. Why is obeying God an important component of biblical womanhood?


Homework

Jesus was our perfect example of obedience, but we can’t and shouldn’t obey every part of God’s Word He obeyed. Even though we read about Jesus in the New Testament, He lived His entire earthly life as an Old Testament Jew. (This is because, during His earthly life, He had not yet instituted the new covenant of grace {by His death, burial, and resurrection} that Christians are under today.) In order to live a perfect life of obedience as Israel’s Messiah, Jesus had to obey the civil, ceremonial, and moral laws of the Old Testament. Do you understand the differences between these types of biblical law and why Christians are no longer bound by the civil and ceremonial types? Give this article a read and explain why, for example, Christians may wear garments of mixed fabrics but may not commit adultery.


Suggested Memory Verse

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 
James 1:22

Favorite Finds

Favorite Finds ~ November 13, 2018

Here are a few of my favorite recent online finds…

I’m so thankful for this new ministry from Stephen NewellThe Baptist Deafcast. The Deaf community in the U.S. and abroad is one of the largest unreached people groups in the world. Stephen has such a heart for carrying the gospel and discipleship to Deaf people, and his passion is inspiring. An extremely helpful resource if you have a Deaf ministry at your church, or Christian loved ones who are Deaf. Stephen voices as well as signs, so hearing people can benefit from each episode as well. Here’s episode 1:

 

“What do Americans think about God, Jesus Christ, sin, and eternity? Ligonier Ministries’ State of Theology survey helps uncover the answers.” You’ve probably heard some of the abysmal findings from Ligonier’s 2018 survey. Why not use it as a springboard for teaching your Sunday School or Bible study class good theology?

 

 

If you grew up in the era when purity culture and courtship was en vogue in evangelicalism, you probably read, or were influenced by, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Recently, the book’s author, Joshua Harris, released a statement describing how he has grown in his theology since writing the book, and how that growth has changed his views, leading to the decision to discontinue publishing it. This really resonated with me since this is the exact same reason I have not re-released my own book. It’s brief and worth a read even if you aren’t familiar with Josh or his book.

 

“Is Christianity Christ + the American dream? American Gospel examines how the prosperity gospel (the Word of Faith movement) has distorted the gospel message, and how this theology is being exported abroad.” If you haven’t seen the documentary movie American Gospel: Christ Alone yet, rent or buy it and watch it, like…yesterday. It is excellent.

 

Enjoy the latest antics of Lutheran Satire in this just for fun video. It’s satire. It’s not really Clint Eastwood. It pokes fun. It’s made by Lutherans. If you’re easily offended by fun, satire, Clint Eastwood, Clint Eastwood impersonators, or Lutherans, please don’t watch this. Otherwise, sit back and have a laugh!

 

Announcement

Ladies, set your attitude to gratitude!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, so for the rest of this week and all of next week, it’s Thanksgiving-palooza on the blog. If you’re participating in our Imperishable Beauty study, you’ve got two weeks to catch up on your lessons. And, if you’re a Black Friday shopper, stop here before you head out to the mall. I’ll have a great list of Christian-owned online businesses you might want to check out – and throw some brotherly love to – first!

Bible Study, Mailbag

The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.”.

 

In my recent article, 4 Ways We’re Getting Women’s Discipleship Wrong, and How We Can Get it Right!, one of the points I mentioned is that we’ve equated women’s discipleship with purchasing a celebrity Bible teacher’s DVD/workbook package and parking women in front of a TV instead of training older women in the local church to teach younger women straight from the Bible.

The idea that we have to use pre-fab studies instead of teaching straight from the Bible is so deeply embedded in our evangelical DNA that nearly every time I write an article or social media post saying we need to kick this habit and get back to straight Bible teaching, what some readers seem to hear is that we need to use doctrinally sound pre-fab studies. (And they proceed to recommend materials by the handful of doctrinally sound women authors who are out there.)

That’s not what I’m saying. I know there are (a few) doctrinally sound pre-fab studies out there. I’m saying we need to totally revamp the way we do women’s Bible study and detox ourselves from our addiction to studies written by authors outside of your local church, who don’t know the women of your church, and who aren’t there for the women of your church – even if those authors are doctrinally sound.

A variation of this question came up again (from a very kind sister who genuinely cares about the ladies in her church and the teaching they receive) in response to the aforementioned article. I share it here, along with my response, to a) help continue to hammer on the idea that we do not have to use canned studies, there’s another, better way, and b) to give you a few ideas of how to stop being so dependent on canned studies in your own church.

I have found some good DVD’s that have been a real encouragement and have fostered true growth in our women. [List of doctrinally sound DVD studies.] While direct teaching is wonderful sometimes the women who teach in our church find themselves in limiting life circumstances…I would love to hear of some DVD’s that you’d recommend, not as a daycare/babysitter for women, but that contain good teaching for times when we want to be in the Word but cannot take the time to adequately prepare.

I’m glad there have been some doctrinally sound DVDs you’ve been encouraged by, and, just to clarify, I’m not saying every DVD on the market features a false teacher (but the vast majority of them do).

I’m not trying to sound harsh, but I think you might have missed the point of section 3 [of the article]. The whole point is that we need to stop relying on pre-fab studies and teach/study straight from the Bible, and you’ve responded by asking me which DVDs I recommend. I don’t. I recommend teaching/studying straight from the Bible. (I’ve explained more here, if it would be of interest.) Your question kind of proves my point about how deeply ingrained the “canned” Bible study mindset runs. It’s not a question of whether or not there are doctrinally sound DVDs on the market, the issue is that we need to study the Bible itself, and we need teachers in the local church who are trained to teach straight from the Bible.

…good teaching for times when we want to be in the Word but cannot take the time to adequately prepare.

I’m not sure whom you’re referring to regarding not having time to prepare. If you’re talking about a teacher, she should step down if she doesn’t have time to adequately prepare. That’s part of being a teacher (I address that at length in the first article linked below section 3). If she can’t commit to preparing, she shouldn’t be teaching.

If you’re talking about students in a Bible study class- if they have time to watch a DVD, they could spend that same time period reading and discussing a passage out of the Bible.

Again, I don’t mean to sound unkind or anything like that, and I do appreciate your question, but we really need to get away from the pre-packaged studies and simply pick up the Bible itself and study it.

Thanks for your response. I guess I didn’t clarify that I was wondering if there were studies that you’d recommend during times when the teachers we have don’t have time to properly develop a lesson. Your post just spurred that question in my mind though I know that wasn’t your intent. It takes me an average of six hours to prepare to teach a lesson and if I’m in a temporary place of not having time to adequately study for a couple of months we like to continue learning even if it is just from a sound teacher via DVD. Being from a smaller church in a depressed area where women are expected to work, it can be difficult to always have an available teacher. But the women do minister to each other in a word based way.

I definitely understand that women’s ministry is not done biblically in many cases. Your posts contain lots of good info. Thanks for what you do! 

Thanks for understanding. Here are a few things I’d recommend instead of falling back on a DVD.

1. Get one or two more women trained to teach, and have a rotation of teachers. That takes the burden off of one person and is also helpful if you get sick, go out of town, have an emergency, etc. It would also give each teacher a longer time period between lessons she has to teach, so she would have more time to prepare. It might not be the easiest thing in the world to get that in place, but prioritizing Christ and His ways rarely is. He never promised us easy, but He did promise to help us. Ask for His help and have your class pray about the situation, too.

2. If there’s some sort of out of the ordinary, rare emergency that has kept you from preparing, simply go in to class, read the passage together, and discuss it verse by verse.

3. If it’s been impossible to prepare, turn that class period into a prayer meeting. Frankly, it would be beneficial as we need far more small group prayer meetings in the church. You might even want to purposely schedule your class that way, say, lessons for three weeks, prayer meeting on the fourth week, or something like that.

4. Make use of my studies at the Bible Studies tab at the top of this page. If you need a “one and done” type of lesson in a pinch, look under “Wednesday’s Word” toward the bottom of the page. Read the passage with the class and use the questions for discussion. All of my studies are free to download, print out, and distribute.

These are the kinds of things teachers have done for centuries until DVD players were invented. There’s really no reason to ever have to fall back on a DVD. Like I said, if you can watch a DVD, you can read a passage of Scripture and discuss it.

Additional Resources

The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?

McBible Study and the Famine of God’s Word

Bible Study

Bible Studies


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Evangelism, Obedience

6 Unworldly Ways to Make the World Wonder Why You’re Weird

A dark, hazy room, colored lights flashing, filled with people swaying to chart-topping music, their drink of choice in hand, just there to have a good time with friends.

Is it a club? A concert? A party?

Or church?

With our coffee bars, cutting edge music from the latest and greatest Christian bands, and come hither atmosphere of smoke machines, light shows, and fun, fun, fun, sometimes it’s hard to tell.

And just as we import worldliness into the church, we’re exporting worldly Christians to our local communities. “Christians” who lie, cheat, carouse, defy authority, use profanity, angrily explode, and are sexually immoral. It’s getting more and more difficult to distinguish God’s people from worldlings, and the worldlings are growing disillusioned. Not just with us, but with God.

“What’s the point of believing in a God who produces people who look exactly like I do?” the world wonders. “What kind of impotent God is this, anyway?”

God gets that. He has gotten that from time immemorial.

He is different. He is other. He is in a class by Himself.

And as His people, we’re supposed to reflect that otherly set apart-ness by being otherly and set apart ourselves.

God didn’t command His people not to wear garments of mixed fibers because He was trying to support the Egyptian cotton market, and He didn’t forbid His people to eat crustaceans to ruin date night at the Red Lobster. He wanted His people to be unique among the pagan nations as He was unique among the pagan gods. He wanted those pagan people to point their fingers at the Israelites and say, “Those people are different, and I want to know why.”

As God’s people living among pagans today, we have the same unique opportunity to point them to the one, true God. How? By unhitching from the Old Testament, as some would have us believe? No. I tell you, we need to look back to our forefathers in the faith and take a page out of their Book. Not by wearing dietary laws on our sleeves of 100% cotton, because we’re not Jews. But by simply obeying God’s commands to His people today.

It ain’t rocket surgery, folks. We don’t need to take surveys to find out what pagan people want. We don’t need gimmicks and tricks. We don’t need to scour Christian industry catalogs hoping against hope that we can find some thing to order that will attract lost people to Jesus.

The most jaw-dropping, astounding, attention-grabbing thing in this world is simple Christians living in simple obedience to God’s simple commands. Isn’t it amazing that something so simple is simply amazing to the world?

Want to be wonderfully, wildly weird to the world so they’ll wonder why? Try these six things.

1.
Submit to your husband

There’s nothing more “against the grain” right now than God’s design for marriage. Feminists have brainwashed many women (and men) into thinking there’s a better way, but we have only to look back across the last several decades to see a landscape littered with unhappy marriages, divorce, abuse, abortion, cohabitation, and single parenting (or…you know…we could look in our Bibles) to know that’s not true.

Ephesians 5:22-33 explains that obeying God’s instructions for being godly wives and husbands isn’t just good for our marriage and home life. It’s a picture of Christ and His church that we get to act out before a watching world.

So when your friend from work catches a glimpse of your “backwards” marriage that seems to be working a lot better than hers and asks you about it, walk through that open door, talk to her, listen to her, and introduce her to the Bridegroom who came to redeem His bride.

2.
Discipline your children

Hardly a week goes by that someone doesn’t compliment me or my husband on how well-behaved our children are. I’m always appreciative of their kindness, and God has truly blessed us with wonderful children, but there’s nothing exceptional about them in the behavioral department, and there’s nothing exceptional about us as parents. My kids are normal. When I was a kid, the majority of kids acted the way my kids act – respectful and obedient – because the majority of parents raised and disciplined their children.

Now, it’s practically an aberration to encounter normal, well-behaved children (even in church – Christian parents, I’m looking at you.). Yes, everybody’s kid acts up from time to time. Yes, some children are naturally more stubborn than others. I know all the “but’s” and exceptions. But if you obediently bring your children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, they’re going to be reasonably well-behaved most of the time, and you’re going to have people stop you at the store, the library, their school, and marvel about it. What are you doing as a parent that makes your kid different? And that’s when you get to tell them about your heavenly Father and His one and only Son.

3.
Be kind

It seems like everyone you run into these days is hurting. Even the people who mistreat you in a rude, angry way are probably acting that way because they’re hurting inside. They don’t know how to handle it, they have no peace, and they’re without hope. All because they’re without Christ.

I used to watch the TV show Undercover Boss fairly regularly. The head of a major company dons a disguise and goes to work among his employees to see how his company is really running and what he can do to improve it. In every episode, the boss gets to know good employees who are going through a difficult time – his mother is dying, her child is sick, he can’t afford a car, she’s trying to work her way through school. And at the end of every episode, the boss reveals himself to the employees and gives each of them thousands of dollars to help with their problems. And at the end of every episode, the employees (and I) are in tears. Yes, the money was helpful and a relief to these folks, but I could see in most of their eyes that it wasn’t just about the money. They were overcome that someone actually cared enough about them to be kind to them.

We live in a cruel, heartless, impatient, unforgiving world. When you take a moment to speak a kind word to someone, provide for a person who’s in need, help a total  stranger, offer cheerful encouragement, just to take a moment to obey Scripture’s admonition to care for someone, it knocks people completely off guard. “Why? Why would you be so kind to me?” a young lady once tearfully asked me after I had done a very small thing for her. It was such a joy to wrap my arms around her and explain, “Because Jesus has been so kind to me.”

4.
Turn the other cheek

If someone steals “your” parking place and you stomp over to her and bless her out, is that going to open a door for you to share the gospel with her? Would she even listen to you if you tried?

In the same way that hurt people expect others to hurt them, people who lash out in anger or do something they know is unfair or unkind expect an angry response from others.

Don’t give it to them. Just don’t. You don’t have to, if you’re a Believer. You have the Fruit of the Spirit of self control.

Obey Jesus’ teaching to turn the other cheek and go the extra mile, and watch as a gentle answer turns away wrath, and, hopefully, leads to a conversation about the Prince of Peace.

5.
Say, “I was wrong.”

The heaviest artillery in a lost person’s arsenal is to accuse or prove someone of being wrong. The reason that even exists as a weapon is because everyone’s natural instinct is to dig our heels in, make excuses, and insist we were actually right.

It can be almost comical to watch someone process from self-righteous victory to “What just happened here?” confusion when you unabashedly admit you were wrong, graciously apologize, and offer to make things right. And, of course, if you realize you were wrong about something before anyone else does, you don’t have to wait to be confronted. You can march in and throw yourself on the “I was wrong,” grenade before anybody realizes what’s going on.

It’s hard to admit we were wrong about something, because, even as Christians, we struggle with pride. Pride is all lost people have to hold on to, so it doesn’t compute when Christians willingly lay down their pride and take up humility by admitting and apologizing for wrongdoing. “It took guts to own up to that,” your neighbor thinks, “I wonder what motivated her to do that?”. Because, dear friend, I have a Savior who, in humility, laid everything down for me. How could I not lay down something so small in obedience to Him?

6.
Forgive

What is a worldly person’s response when someone wrongs her? Anger. Bitterness. A grudge as high and long and thick as a brick wall. “I will never forgive you!” screamed as she slams out the door and out of that person’s life forever.

The kind of response Christ has every right to extend to us for our sin…but chooses not to.

Think back to when Christ saved you. Do you remember how heavy your sin was and how hopeless you felt? And then, that glorious moment that took your breath away when, for no other reason but grace and mercy, He cleansed you of all your rebellion and wrongdoing and pronounced you forgiven?

When we forgive someone who has sinned against us, we have the honor of pulling back the veil and giving a sinner a peek at the forgiveness Christ offers. It might be the kind of forgiveness He asked for the unrepentant who were crucifying Him. Or it might be the forgiveness He extended to a repentant woman whose sins were many.

“Why would you forgive me? I would never forgive someone who hurt me like that.” It’s the perfect moment to tell her about the One we have all sinned against, who delights to extend forgiveness to each of us.

 

The people around us, watching us every day, need Jesus. As His servants and ambassadors, we have the privilege, the honor, and the responsibility to represent Him well to them by simply obeying His Word. The world doesn’t need “Christians” who look just like them. The world needs Christians who look just like Jesus.

False Doctrine, False Teachers

Throwback Thursday ~ Can a False Teacher be a Christian?

Originally published December 4, 2015

I recently had the opportunity to read a fascinating and thought provoking Twitter discussion among some brothers in Christ about what constitutes a false teacher, and whether or not some false teachers might actually be genuinely regenerated Christians.

My working definition of a false teacher is someone who unrepentantly, despite biblical correction, consistently teaches, either implicitly, explicitly, or via his or her behavior, doctrine that is in direct conflict with clear cut Scripture.

It’s not a perfect definition, and I’m sure we can all think of exceptions, but that’s the general guideline I follow before referring to someone as a false teacher. But could someone who, despite correction, persists in teaching things and behaving in ways that contradict Scripture truly be a born again Christian?

Let’s take a look at what Scripture has to say:

Galatians 1:8-9

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

This passage is in reference to the Judaizers, who were preaching a false soteriology. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, says twice, of such a teacher, “let him be accursed.” The Greek word anathema, translated “accursed,” means “devoting someone to destruction in eternal hell.”¹ Is this something the Holy Spirit would say about someone who is a Christian?

1 Timothy 4:1-3

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

Verse 2 as well as the phrase “teachings of demons” would seem to indicate that at least some false teachers are not saved. I think it’s fair to say that someone who is a Christian would not be marked by the Holy Spirit as a liar, or someone whose conscience is seared, or someone whose teaching is demonic.

Also notice the false teachings mentioned in verse 3: the forbidding of marriage and the requirement to abstain from certain foods. Some would say that only deviant soteriology qualifies a person as a false teacher, but here the Holy Spirit says false teachings on marriage and food (what most would probably call secondary or even tertiary theological issues) are leading peple to “depart from the faith.” How can someone whose teachings lead people away from the faith not be considered a false teacher? Would someone who is genuinely born again knowingly teach things that lead people away from Christ?

2 Peter 2

Here, Peter gives us a twenty-two verse description of false teachers, their characteristics and their fate. He uses words like destruction, sensuality, greed, condemnation, willful, and blasphemous. Can you think of any passages of Scripture which describe believers with these sorts of words? Read 2 Peter 2 with Galatians 5:22-23, and the character and eternal destiny of believers in mind. Does it sound like Peter is talking about Christians or non-Christians?

1 John

The book of 1 John is practically a checklist for determining whether a person is saved or not. Does the teacher you’re listening to deny her sin (for example, preaching to men) and continue in it, or confess it and repent? (1:8-10) Does she keep God’s commands or walk in disobedience? (2:3-6) Does she hold to apostolic teaching (4:1-6) or leave it behind (2:19)? John draws a very clear line as to who is genuinely saved and who is not.

Jude 4, 18-19

For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ…[The apostles] said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.

The whole book of Jude deals with false teachers, and can be read and compared with what we know to be true of believers as we did with 2 Peter 2. The false teachers described in Jude do not sound like they bear the characteristics of believers.

Verse 4 seems to deal with those who teach a false soteriology (“pervert the grace of our God” and “deny our only Master…) and says they are ungodly and designated for condemnation. Christians do not fall under condemnation. Verses 18-19, however, describe people who are scoffers, have ungodly passions, cause division in the church, and are worldly (all of which can fall under the umbrella of non-soteriological false teaching). Verse 19 says such people are “devoid of the Spirit.” Notice that “Spirit” is capitalized, which indicates the Holy Spirit. All born again believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Only non-Christians can properly be described as “devoid of the Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 11:12-15

And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

This passage describes false teachers who disguise themselves as “apostles of Christ” and “servants of righteousness.”  Verse 15 describes false teachers as servants of Satan. Their end (their eternity) will correspond to the fact that they serve Satan. Christians are defined as servants of Christ, not Satan, and they spend their eternities in Heaven, not hell.

Romans 16:17-18

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

While this passage does not specifically use the term “false teachers” it is clear that people who cause division, create obstacles contrary to sound doctrine, and deceive the naive, “do not serve our Lord Christ.” Christians, by the Bible’s own definition, are servants of Christ, and do not willfully or habitually deceive people, cause division, or create obstacles to sound doctrine.

2 John 9

Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

Does the teacher you’re listening to “abide” – live in, stay in, walk in – the teaching of Christ, or does she habitually deviate from, or “go on ahead” of it? This verse describes those who do not abide in the teaching of Christ as not having God. Christians are those who abide in the teaching of Christ.

Matthew 7:15-23

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

In the first section of this passage, Jesus says we will be able to recognize false teachers by their fruits. Does the teacher you’re following bear fruit in keeping with repentance? What about the trajectory of her life and teaching? Are her teachings, hermeneutics, affiliations, and behavior getting better and more biblical over time, or is she on a downhill slide? What about the fruit of her ministry? Is she producing genuine converts who grow to spiritual maturity, correctly handle and understand God’s word, share the gospel, and disciple others? Jesus says that diseased trees that don’t bear good fruit are cut down and thrown into the fire. That’s not imagery the Bible applies to Christians.

The second section of the passage makes it clear that there will be people in hell (non-Christians by definition) who looked every bit like Christian teachers to us on earth. They will do lots of Christiany looking things “in Jesus’ name,” but only those who do “the will of my [Jesus’] Father” are known by Christ (Christians). Are teachers who knowingly twist God’s word, even on secondary and tertiary theological issues, doing the will of the Father? What about those who deliberately walk in disobedience to His word in their own behavior or by their affiliation with those who teach another gospel? Christians are characterized by obedience to Christ and submission to His word.

Acts 18:24-28

Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.

Aha! Here’s a false teacher who was a Christian! Or was he? Apollos is actually a great example of someone who was not a false teacher, yet was wrong, initially, in what he was teaching.

Look back at the Scripture reference: Acts 18. Apollos came along during the transition time between Old Testament Israel and the New Testament church, which was in its infancy. The New Testament Scriptures, as we know them, didn’t exist for Apollos to study. There were no Christian seminaries to train him in the full gospel. What Apollos knew and taught was correct, but it was incomplete due to the era and circumstances in which he lived.

So, while Apollos taught inaccurate doctrine at first, he was categorized as a believer (as evidenced by verses 27-28 in which the brothers and disciples endorsed and encouraged him, and he was considered a great help to the church). Why? Because when Priscilla and Aquila took him aside and explained things to him accurately, he readily received correction and immediately began teaching the complete gospel correctly. Receiving correction and upholding and proclaiming the truth of the gospel are hallmarks of a Christian.

These are just a few of the Scriptures that deal with false teachers and false doctrine. All of them seem to at least lean toward calling unrepentant false teachers unbelievers. So the verdict is in, right? People who teach false doctrine are unsaved. Period. Case closed.

Nope. You and I don’t get to make that pronouncement (except in cases in which the person openly denies an imperative soteriological doctrine, such as the deity of Christ, the Trinity, etc. Then, we can agree with God’s word that the person is not saved). We sit on the jury. We look at the preponderance of the evidence. In certain cases we might even believe there’s evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that a particular false teacher is an unbeliever. But, ultimately, it’s not our job to render the verdict or hand down the sentence. In this court system, that’s the job of the judge- God – the only One who can see into the person’s heart and know beyond a shadow of a doubt if he or she is saved.

Our job is to evaluate what we can see – the person’s behavior, writings, sermons, teachings, and conversation – and determine whether or not it aligns with Scripture. If it doesn’t – even if we personally believe the person is actually saved – those teachings, and the person who teaches them, have no place in our churches or personal study materials.

A large portion of the New Testament is dedicated to instructing us to stay away from false doctrine and those who teach it. Second Timothy 3:5 and Romans 16:17 say we are to “avoid such people.” First Corinthians 5:9-13, speaking about unrepentant sinners who call themselves believers, says that we are to judge those in the church, and we are “not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty…not even to eat with such a one.” Second John 10-11 goes so far as to say, “do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.”

The bottom line is, it’s up to God to say whether or not someone is saved. It’s up to us to prayerfully and biblically determine whether or not her teachings match up with Scripture – regardless of our opinion about her salvation – and, if not, remove those teachings from our churches and our study of God’s word.


1. MacArthur Study Bible, ESV translation, notes on Galatians 1:8, p. 1741.