Answering a Fool, Mailbag

The Mailbag: Answering a Fool #3


Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.
Proverbs 26:5

There’s a lot of foolishness masquerading as Christianity these days. Occasionally, I get e-mails and messages showcasing this type of foolishness. It needs to be biblically corrected so these folks can stop “being wise in their own eyes,” repent, and believe and practice the truth of Scripture. From time to time, I’ll be sharing those e-mails in The Mailbag with a biblical corrective, not only so the e-mail writer can be admonished by Scripture, but to provide you with Scriptures and reasoning you can use if you’re ever confronted with this kind of foolishness.

(This reader’s blog comment {in blue},
responding to this article, is reprinted in full.)

You are a liar and devils tool. There is no role for corporate discernment. God doesn’t need you to defend His flock from false teachers, when did God become powerless or when did His flock become unintelligent or indiscernible? How come it’s OKY you who can discern? And just remember the same standard which you use to judge others, God will use to judge you.

Allllllllllrighty then. Let’s break this down.

You are a liar and devils [sic] tool. 

A liar is someone who intentionally deceives other people or says something she knows is not true. I have done neither. If there is something in my article that is incorrect, I assure you it was an innocent and unintentional mistake. If you could kindly specify exactly what you think I have gotten wrong with the evidence or rightly handled Scripture to back up your assertion, I will gladly correct my mistake.

As for being the “devil’s tool,” could you please explain how someone who points out biblical error and points people to the truth of Scripture is being used by the devil? The devil is the one who twists and misuses Scripture in order to lead people into error. Was Jesus the “devil’s tool” when He publicly pointed out and biblically corrected the unscriptural teachings of the scribes and Pharisees? How about PeterPaulJohnJude, and others whom God the Holy Spirit inspired to write the Scriptures that rebuke false teachers and false doctrine? Were these men the “devil’s tool” too?

When you accuse the brethren (me) without biblical cause or evidence, and in the face of Scripture that proves your accusations to be unfounded, what you’re doing is called slander and unbiblical judgment, and you are the one who is being used as a tool of the devil.

There is no role for corporate discernment.

I honestly have no idea what this means. “Corporate” means “a large company or group.” In Christian circles, when we use the term “corporate,” we usually mean the gathering of the church body. I’m an individual, not a group, so I really don’t have a clue as to how this statement applies to me.

Furthermore where does the Bible say or teach this? If you’re going to make a biblical assertion, you need to back it up with rightly handled, in context Scripture. There’s tons of New Testament evidence that God does want the church as a body and individual Christians to practice discernment, but I don’t know which verses to provide you with to refute your point, because I don’t know what your point is.

God doesn’t need you to defend His flock from false teachers,

God doesn’t “need” anybody. He doesn’t “need” you to rebuke me either. Did you consider that before you wrote your comment? Why didn’t you just remain silent and trust Him to convict me of whatever sin you think I’ve committed? Or is it that it’s OK for you to call someone on the carpet for what you perceive to be violations of Scripture, but it’s not OK for me to do so? Hypocrisy, much?

As I clearly stated in the very first paragraph of the article (which I’m assuming you read since you commented on it), people have written to me asking whether or not certain teachers are doctrinally sound. The articles I’ve written are answers to these readers’ questions.

Titus 2:3 says:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,

Teaching women the truth of God’s Word about false teachers, discernment, or any other biblical issue is good. Some other passages you might want to consider:

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. 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.
Romans 16:17-18

Here’s Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, warning fellow Christians to “watch out for” and “avoid” false teachers. You know what else Paul said? “Imitate me.

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 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…save others by snatching them out of the fire;
Jude 3-4,23a

Jude, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, exhorts the church to fight for the purity of biblical doctrine and to save those who are vulnerable to false doctrine, “snatching them out of the fire.”

“So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.
Ezekiel 33:7-9

God commands Ezekiel to warn people away from their sin and says He will hold Ezekiel responsible if he fails to warn them.

But I guess God didn’t “need” Paul or Jude or Ezekiel or any of the people in the congregations they were writing or speaking to or, by extension, Christians today, “to defend His flock from false teachers,” right?

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
James 4:17

It’s clear from Scripture that warning people away from sin and false doctrine is “the right thing to do.” You’re asking me to stop doing the right thing. It would be a sin for me to stop, and it’s a sin for you to demand that I stop. And now that you know that warning people away from false teachers is the right thing to do, that means if you fail to do so, that’s sin for you.

So the real question here is not, “Why am I warning others about false teachers,” but “Why aren’t you?”.

when did God become powerless or when did His flock become unintelligent or indiscernible?

OK, so following your logic, why does every single book of the New Testament (except Philemon) address the issue of false doctrine or false teachers? Why did God have so many of the Old Testament prophets rebuke the false prophets of their day – false prophets who, much like today’s false teachers, would say “thus saith the Lord” and then tell the people things God had not said, or things that were in direct contradiction to what God had said? Was He so powerless that these New Testament writers had to write books and letters (“blog articles,” if you will) warning against false doctrine and false teachers and these Old Testament prophets had to publicly denounce the false prophets?

When did His flock become unintelligent or undiscerning? Let’s dispense with “unintelligent” because that has nothing to do with being discerning. Some of the most intelligent people in evangelicalism with strings of academic letters behind their names are some of the most undiscerning Christians out there – seminary presidents and professors, denominational heads, CEOs of Christian retail outlets. And there are people who have very little in the way of intelligence or education who are very discerning.

When did God’s people become undiscerning? In Genesis 3, when a serpentine false teacher, “a liar and a tool of the devil,” walked up to Eve, twisted God’s Word and said, “Did God really say…?”. And lack of discernment has been a pervasive problem ever since.

How come it’s OKY [sic] you who can discern? (I think you mean “only”?)

It’s NOT only I who can discern. Praise God, there are lots of Christians out there who are discerning. The people who have written asking me about these false teachers are discerning (because they want help understanding whether or not they’re being taught sound doctrine). There are other writers and teachers doing the good and hard work of teaching discernment. Pastors, elders, deacons, Bible teachers, church members, podcasters, authors, parachurch ministries. They are out there warning fellow Christians against false teachers in their venues just like I am in my venue, and I thank God that they are! I wish every pastor and local church were so diligent about teaching discernment that I wouldn’t have to write discernment articles any more.

But the vast majority of them aren’t. In fact, the vast majority are throwing the doors of the sheep pen wide open to the wolves in sheep’s clothing and welcoming them in. And until that changes, somebody has to warn those vulnerable sheep. Like I said before, why aren’t you helping to warn them?

And just remember the same standard which you use to judge others, God will use to judge you.

The standard I use to biblically judge the observable behavior and teaching of evangelical teachers is Scripture, and that’s the standard God will judge me (and everyone else) by. I am totally OK with that because I am doing my best to be obedient to Scripture, and when I’m disobedient to Scripture I repent.

Can you say the same? What standard do you use for judging me and others? Let’s just put the opening and closing lines of your comment together:

You are a liar and devils tool.
And just remember the same standard which you use to judge others, God will use to judge you.

What standard are you using?

I’d like to leave you with a few passages of Scripture to consider:

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Matthew 12:36-37

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Matthew 7:1-5

O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart;
who does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbor,
nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
but who honors those who fear the Lord;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
who does not put out his money at interest
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.
Psalm 15

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.

15 thoughts on “The Mailbag: Answering a Fool #3”

  1. Thank you Michelle for your ministry in supporting women. I have been set free from the influence and confusion of false teachers and dangerous doctrine. Praise God! But I have many friends who still are very entrenched in many of these practices and teachings and teachers and I have asked the Lord for wisdom in what and when to say


    1. You are welcome, Deb. I’m so glad God brought you out from under false teaching – what a blessing! I know that once you come out you grieve for those who are still in it and want desperately to “snatch them from the flames.” It can be hard to wait upon the Lord to work in their hearts like He worked in yours. In case it might be helpful, you may want to stay tuned to my new podcast with Amy Spreeman, “A Word Fitly Spoken” (see “Podcast” tab at the top of this page). We are going to address the topic of how to approach friends and family who are in false teaching very soon. :0)


  2. Excellent response as usual Michelle; I’m glad I’m not the only one who didn’t know what “corporate discernment” means.


  3. Thank you so much for your ministry Michelle! Even though I have been a Christian since I was 8 years old, there have been times in my life when I was almost mislead or confused by false teachings. The Holy Spirit has been faithful to give me discernment, but there have been some rough times. Thank you for always pointing toward Scripture and for being a true voice of reason in all the insanity of false teachings out there today.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for your sound response. This is so encouraging! Stand firm – your ministry touches many and it’s one of the few trustworthy blogs. The Lord has given you a gift to communicate clearly – I’m always amazed at your responses. I point people to your blog posts often in the Women’s Bible Study at my church. Thank you!!


  5. Michelle, I appreciate the discernment you bring to the Christian community! I do have a concern, though, about your delivery at times. I understand the gravity of the issues you deal with every day, but I sometimes wonder if your responses could be worded in a more gentle, loving way. My tendency is to give a quick response to false teaching (biblical, but quick), too. Christ calls us to display fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
    Prayers for you as you discern the Word to others.
    Abrigail Julian


    1. Hi Abrigail-

      Thanks for your kind words of encouragement. There’s a little issue here that we need to be aware of, and that’s the subjective nature of “tone” and the way we often confuse our subjective opinion of someone’s tone with the display of the Fruit of the Spirit. This article apparently strikes you as not loving or gentle enough. But several other people commented on how gracious the tone was. I don’t bring that up to say that you’re wrong and they were right, only to demonstrate that tone is in the eye of the beholder. Additionally, tone is not addressed in Scripture, so there aren’t any passages we can compare someone’s tone to and definitively say, “Your tone was unbiblical.” So what I have to do when I’m writing is to rely on the wisdom God has given me and make sure I can publish an article with a clean conscience before Him instead of trying to please man, and let the chips fall where they may.

      I would encourage you to read Matthew 23, Paul’s rebukes of false teachers, and the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel with the Fruit of the Spirit list handy. Was Jesus being unloving when He rebuked the Pharisees? Was God being unkind or impatient when He pronounced judgment on His own people and various other countries? Was Paul not gentle enough when he talked about turning false teachers over to Satan? There is some extremely stringent language of judgment and rebuke in these passages, but because it is God, or Jesus, or the Holy Spirit speaking (or inspiring Paul’s writings) we know for a fact that these passages don’t indicate that God was failing to display the Fruit of the Spirit simply by using strong language.

      We live in a culture that bows the knee to the idol of “niceness,”, but that’s not what the Bible teaches. Biblical love, kindness, gentleness, etc., don’t look like the world’s idea of those things. Strong, firm, biblical language does not equal failure to be loving, kind, gentle or patient. In cases like these it is exactly the kind of biblical love that is required, in hopes of bringing a hard-hearted person – who claims to be a Christian – to repentance. A so-called Christian who has gotten to the point of spewing vitriol like this against a sister in Christ has not gotten to that point without hardening her heart against gentle rebukes. And just like with our children, when they spurn a gentle admonition, we have to get firmer and firmer in order for them to hopefully take the admonition to heart.

      I honestly don’t understand it when people (not meaning you personally, Abrigail, just a trend I’ve been seeing for a while now) see an exchange like this, and instead of rebuking the “Christian” who’s attacking someone and displaying all manner of evil intent, words, and behavior, they rebuke the doctrinally sound Christian who biblically, yet firmly and confidently, addresses and refutes the attack. Christ has not called Christians to be wimps and doormats and quietly absorb abuse from fellow “Christians” without standing firmly against it. I believe I have done that here.


      1. Michelle, I understand your reasoning, and I agree for the most part. Christians are not doormats, neither should we back down from giving hard answers.
        I also understand that Jesus, Paul, Ezekiel, and basically every other prophet was pronouncing a rebuke to the hypocrites, which was also your intention here. Unfortunately, issues like this are much easier to address in person, and tone is something that is easily misunderstood when read, as you mentioned. But you also aren’t pronouncing judgement on someone who hasn’t heeded your warning. And I could be seeing just part of the story here, as I don’t know what all communication you’ve had with the person. I understand your response, but I was a bit concerned given that this isn’t the first time you’ve displayed this tone in a response to you personally.
        Thank you for your gracious response to my comment, and I hope you will continue teaching discernment from the Word for a long, long time.


      2. I’ve never had any interaction with this person. This is how she introduced herself to me- with this attacking comment.

        But you also aren’t pronouncing judgement on someone who hasn’t heeded your warning.

        I’m not pronouncing judgment on anyone. Only God can do that. Part of “answering a fool according to his folly” is to meet him on his own turf and hold your own. That’s what I’m doing. I realize that can be jarring to someone who isn’t used to seeing a doctrinally sound Christian handle this type of person firmly, but someone else’s discomfort with this kind of rebuke doesn’t mean that what I’m doing is unbiblical or lacking in Fruit of the Spirit.

        You’re correct, this isn’t the first time I’ve handled this sort of thing in a firm, biblical way, and it won’t be the last, because it’s a perfectly appropriate and biblical way to handle it. I still fail to understand why you’re taking more issue with my response than with this person’s attack, but we’ve both said our piece and I don’t think it’s necessary to pursue this any further.

        Thank you again for your kind remarks, no hard feelings, and I hope you’ll stick around for my other articles and resources. :0)


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