Mailbag

The Mailbag: Husbands, pastors, and mentors- Which roles do they play in a Christian woman’s life?

Originally published January 20, 2020

I have three questions that are kind of related to each other:

1 Corinthians 14:35 says women should ask their husbands questions at home; how does this fit with women mentoring other women in Titus 2?

Where does a husband’s role end and where does the role of a godly older woman begin in terms of teaching younger women?

Are there areas where a pastor’s authority trumps a husband’s authority?

Thank you for your help.

These are really awesome questions. I love it when women ask questions that demonstrate that they’re digging into Scripture and thinking deeply about the things of God. It’s so exciting to me!

(Before I begin answering, let me just stipulate, as I usually do in articles about marriage, that the following statements assume a normal, relatively healthy, average marriage, not abusive marriages, extremely aberrant marriages, etc. Also, it’s not my intent to leave out my single sisters, but the reader asked specifically about married women, so that’s how I’m answering the questions.)

So let’s take each question separately…

1 Corinthians 14:35 says women should ask their husbands questions at home; how does this fit with women mentoring other women in Titus 2:3-5?

The first thing we need to do when we’re addressing questions like this is to look at each of these passages in context. This is a very simple study skill that will clear up nearly all instances of supposed contradictions in Scripture.

Read 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. What is the venue for Paul’s instructions in this passage? In other words, is he telling people how to behave at home? At work? At the movies? Look at the key phrases in verses 26 (“when you come together”) and 28,33b-35 (“in church”). Paul is giving instructions for how an orderly worship service is to be conducted. He is not making a blanket statement that any time any woman wants to know anything about Scripture or God or life in general that the only person she can ever ask questions of is her husband. What he’s saying is that in order to avoid chaos in the worship service, women are to sit down and be quiet during the preaching and teaching, rather than interrupting to comment or ask questions (one of the reasons Paul says this is that the women in the Corinthian church were doing just that – interrupting the preaching and teaching with questions and comments). If you read further in chapter 14, you’ll notice he places similar restrictions on prophesying and speaking in other languages to prevent chaos and confusion during the worship service. I’ve discussed this passage in further detail in my article Rock Your Role ~ Order in His Courts: Silencing Women?

Now read Titus 2. What’s the main idea of this chapter? Is it the same as the main idea of 1 Corinthians 14 – instructions for an orderly worship service? No. Verse 12 gives a nice summary of chapter 2: “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” That’s what this chapter is about. “Titus, here’s what your church members (and you) are to do and how they’re to conduct themselves as they go about the business of living as Christians in this world and in community with one another.” The older women teaching and training the younger women in verses 3-5 is not taking place during the worship service, but as these women go about daily life with one another. Today, this kind of teaching and training takes place in women’s Bible study classes, women’s fellowship groups, and in one on one discipleship, not in, nor instead of, the gathering of the whole church for worship.

So as we can see when we examine the context of both passages, 1 Corinthians 14:35 and Titus 2:3-5 are not in conflict, they’re actually in harmony, addressing two distinct ways women are to conduct themselves in two completely different venues.

Where does a husband’s role end and where does the role of a godly older woman begin in terms of teaching younger women?

I don’t think it’s really that discrete and linear, i.e. the husband teaches this list of topics the wife needs to be taught about and the godly older woman teaches that list of topics she needs to be taught about, and never the twain shall meet. It’s a much more informal and “whatever is needful at the moment” type of thing. Additionally, it’s going to vary from marriage to marriage. Some women have unsaved husbands. Some women are newly saved with husbands who have been saved for decades. Some husbands and wives are very private about everything, some are very open to others. So the balance between who (husband or older woman mentor) teaches what, and how much, and when, is going to look different in every marriage.

I would just offer a few guidelines:

• After your relationship with Christ, if you’re married, your highest allegiance is to your husband. He should be your best friend and first confidant, not a woman who’s mentoring you (or even your mother, sister, or female best friend). He should never feel like he’s in competition for your time, interest, or affinity with the woman who’s mentoring you, or that you esteem her on the same (or, perish the thought, higher) level of loyalty or emotional intimacy with him. If you’ve gotten that close to your mentor, you’re too close. Turn your attention toward your husband.

• Along those same lines, always keep in mind that God instructs you to submit to your husband, not your mentor. The only time you should ever follow your mentor’s advice over your husband’s desires is if your husband is asking you to do something the Bible clearly calls sin and your mentor is advising you to obey Scripture instead. (But even in that case, you’re not really choosing your mentor over your husband, you’re choosing to obey God rather than to sin.)

• There are some things that are private between a husband and wife that shouldn’t be shared with anyone, including a mentor. Which things? Again, that’s going to vary from marriage to marriage, but a few no no’s might include the private details of your sex life, your finances, and anything your husband would be embarrassed for someone else to know. Talk with your husband and ask if there’s anything he would rather you didn’t share with your mentor.

Are there areas where a pastor’s authority trumps a husband’s authority?

It really depends on what you have in mind when you ask that question.

If you’re talking about personal decisions made between a husband and wife, let’s say, for instance, whether or not to move to a certain part of town or whether or not the wife should take a part time job, it is not the pastor’s place to step in and overrule the husband’s decision, nor should the pastor have any expectation that the couple would obey any edicts he issues. If the couple goes to him for counseling or asks for his advice, he can certainly give it, but we never see any place in Scripture where a pastor has authority over another family’s decisions. The husband is responsible before God for leading his family, not the pastor.

But if you’re talking about a situation in the church, then yes, a pastor’s (or the elders’) authority – assuming he’s abiding by Scripture – trumps a husband’s authority, and pretty much every other church member’s authority as well. For example, a husband does not have the authority to walk up to the pastor and say, “I’m going to let my wife preach the sermon next Sunday,” or “My wife is going to take over this Sunday School classroom and use it as her personal office.”. If a husband were to say something like that, the pastor is well within his authority as shepherd of the church to say, “Oh no she’s not.”. The buck stops with the pastor when it comes to how the church runs, and he is responsible before God for making godly decisions for the church.

I’m aware that there are aberrant, fringe “churches” (many of them are some stripe of New Apostolic Reformation or extreme legalism/fundamentalism) out there in which the “pastor” has ultimate authority over every decision a family makes: where they live, how many children they have, what to name their children, whether and where each spouse should work, etc. If you’re in a so-called church like that, leave immediately and find a doctrinally sound church to join. A church doesn’t plunge to that depth of spiritual abuse without succumbing to other dangerous false doctrines along the way.


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.

Church, Faith, Salvation

Pass/Fail

Originally published March 17, 2011

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?

2 Corinthians 13:5

Remember the story of the ugly duckling?  Somehow a swan’s egg finds its way to a duck’s nest and hatches right along with all the other ducklings.  The swan chick is similar in appearance to the ducklings, but it quickly becomes obvious to all that there’s something different about him.  The swan chick is convinced that he is a duck.  He tries to walk like a duck, quack like a duck– but it doesn’t work.  He can’t figure out what’s wrong with him.

The problem is, the swan chick wasn’t, in fact, a duck.  He might have lived with a duck family.  He might have even learned how to imitate the sounds, habits, and mannerisms of ducks, but sometimes, even though it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck– it isn’t a duck.

Sadly, we have the very same scenario taking place in our churches.  There are swans among us who think they are ducks.  They walk like ducks, quack like ducks, sometimes we’ve even told them they are ducks.  Unlike the duck siblings in the story of the ugly duckling, we don’t, as a rule, pick at them and tease them mercilessly.  We love them, accept them, and assume they are Believers.  Some swans look and sound an awful lot like ducks.

But the fact of the matter is, many– maybe even most –of the people you sit next to in church on Sunday morning are not Believers.  They have never been genuinely converted to Christ and become new creatures.  Some of them know this consciously about themselves and are just trying to fake their way through because church attendance looks good on a resume or in the eyes of their family and friends.  But there are untold thousands who have been deceived into thinking they are saved when, in fact, they are not.  Could you be one of them?

Most of us grew up during a time when there was great pressure on churches to “get the decision” and up their baptism numbers.  Somehow, this is what evangelism was boiled down to.  The pressure started with the higher ups in the denomination and was passed down to individual pastors, who, in turn, passed the pressure on to their church members.  Frankly, this dynamic hasn’t waned much and is still going strong today.

 As a result, the Gospel presentation Jesus preached– we must repent (Luke 5:32), deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily (Luke 9:23), forsake all else (Luke 14:26), even lose our lives for the Gospel (Mark 8:35) –got watered down and redesigned into the easy believism of, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,” and, “Don’t you want to go to heaven when you die?”  Let’s face it, in this culture, dying to self and turning your back on everything that’s comfortable and convenient isn’t an easy sell.

(And if you’ve never heard the truth of the Gospel– that you are guilty of breaking God’s laws, and that God will punish your lawbreaking with an eternity in hell unless you turn away from your sin and place your faith in the fact that Jesus’ death on the cross satisfied God’s wrath against you –please take a few minutes to watch the little video in the sidebar, and learn how you can be saved.)

Folks, I don’t care what Rob Bell or any of the other wolves in shepherd’s clothing tell you, Jesus himself said that “the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

So how can you tell whether you’ve found that narrow way that leads to life, or if you’re just one of the many who has been deceived?  Don’t bet your salvation on church attendance or service, your own personal “goodness” or even the fact that you recited a “sinner’s prayer” and someone told you that if you “really meant it in your heart,” you were saved.  And certainly, don’t wait until you stand before Jesus when you die to find out (Matthew 7:21-23).

Test yourself.  Examine yourself.  The proof that you’re saved is not simply that you once said a prayer and invited Jesus into your heart.  The proof is in the fruit of your life, right now– today.  Jesus said,

You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?  So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.

Matthew 7:16-17

What does the fruit of a genuine Believer look like?  The MacArthur Study Bible1 has a great tool you can use for examining yourself.  Find a quiet time and place with no distractions, and prayerfully and honestly go over this list with the Lord.  Don’t trust your own opinion of your fruit, ask God to reveal to you what He thinks.

I. Evidences that neither prove nor disprove one’s faith:

a. Visible morality: Matt. 19:16-21, 23:27
b. Intellectual knowledge: Romans 1:21, 2:17ff
c. Religious involvement: Matt. 25:1-10
d. Active Ministry : Matt. 7:21-23
e. Conviction of sin: Acts 24:25
f. Assurance: Matt. 23
g. Time of decision: Luke 8:13-14

II. The fruit /proofs of authentic / true Christianity

a. Love for God: Psalm 42:1ff; 73:25; Luke 10:27; Romans 8:7
b. Repentance from sin: Psalm 32:5; Proverbs 28:13; Romans 7:14ff; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 1 John 1:8-10
c. Genuine Humility: Psalm 51:17; Matthew 5:1-12; James 4:6, 9ff.
d. Devotion to God’s Glory: Psalm 105:3; 115:1; Isaiah 43:7, 48:10ff.; Jeremiah 9:23, 24; 1 Corinthians 10:31
e. Continual Prayer: Luke 18:1; Ephesians 6:18ff.; Philippians 4:6ff.; 1 Timothy 2:1-4; James 5:16-18
f. Selfless Love: 1 John 2:9ff, 3:14; 4:7ff.
g. Separation from the world: 1 Corinthians 2:12; James 4:4ff.; 1 John 2:15-17, 5:5
h. Spiritual Growth: Luke 8:15; John 15:1-6; Ephesians 4:12-16
i. Obedient Living: Matthew 7:21; John 15:14ff.; Romans 16:26; 1 Peter 1:2, 22; 1 John 2:3-5

If list I is true of a person and list II is false or non-evident, then there could be cause to question the validity of one’s profession of faith. If list II is true of a person, then list I will be true as well.

Are you really saved?  Are you sure?  This test isn’t graded on a curve.

1From: MacArthur Study Bible Index Notes, 1997.


Additional Resources

What Must I Do to Be Saved?

Am I Really Saved?: A First John Check Up

Searching for a new church?

Church, Discernment, Worship

Throwback Thursday ~ The Way We Wor(ship)

Originally published on May 22, 2013

mt_sinai

And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death.  No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot; whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.”
Exodus 19:12-13

From Cain and Abel to the Israelites in the wilderness to Ananias and Sapphira, God sets limits on the way we may approach Him. He has always said “whosoever will” may come to Him, but He is just as exacting about the way in which we come to Him today as He was back then.

It’s no small matter that many people in the Bible were put to death for approaching God in anything less than an attitude of utmost awe, fear, and reverence for His holiness. Uzzah touched the Ark of the Covenant. Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire before the Lord. The Corinthians took the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner.

I recently heard Perry Noble, a well known leader of a seeker sensitive megachurch, who has done such things as having his church’s band play AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” on Easter Sunday, say, “I’m willing to offend the church people to reach people for Jesus.” When asked where he drew the line at what was too offensive in church, he went on to say, “I probably wouldn’t have a stripper on stage…” and continued to justify using worldly and irreverent antics in church in order to “bring people to Jesus.”

But Perry has missed the point. Worship isn’t about people and what they like or don’t like. It isn’t about entertaining people and making sure they have some sort of enjoyable or emotional experience. It isn’t about attracting the attention of people.

Worship is about God.

What does God think? How does He want to be worshiped? What does He find offensive?

God is not the God of “anything goes.” If you doubt that, go back to the Old Testament and read His precise instructions on constructing the tabernacle, offering sacrifices, the behavior and duties of priests and Levites, and so on. Anything goes? Far from it.

Christ should be the sun in our solar system of worship. Just as the sun’s gravity exerts just the right force on each planet, keeping them revolving around it in exactly the right path, so, when Christ is at the center of our worship, every song, every prayer, every word spoken will fall into exactly the right orbit around Him.

What about your church? The next time you attend a worship service, sit back and view it through the lens of discernment. Is it designed to make you happy? Comfortable? Entertained? Emotional? Or is every element of the service centered on Christ– His holiness, His sacrifice for sin, His love and grace — leading you to exalt Him and forget about yourself?

Pastors and worship leaders, one day you will answer to God for the way you led your church. Do you design worship services to attract and hold the attention of people, manipulate their emotions, and entertain them, or do you sit at your desk, pray, and consider what will please God, how you can best lift up the name of Christ, expose His glory, and keep things centered on Him? God has not called you to be a shock jock, stand up comedian, or motivational speaker. He has called you to preach Christ and Him crucified.

Let’s stop the silliness and stupidity, and repent. Worship is serious business.

Psalm 119 Bible Study

New Bible Study Kickoff and Title Pic Contest

Happy Wednesday, Ladies! It’s time to kick off our next Bible study:

…..with a fun title pic contest!

What does God’s Word teach us about…itself? As we make our way through this lovely psalm, you’ll learn about loving God’s Word, the various ways Scripture helps us in our daily lives, and the reliability of God’s Word. But most importantly, you’ll learn about and increase in your love for the God of the Word.

Weighing in at a hefty 176 verses, Psalm 119 is well known as the longest chapter in the Bible, and is similar in length to Philippians and James. Think you can memorize it? I challenge you to try!

Psalm 119 will be an “expositorially topical” (an expository deep dive into a short segment of Scripture) study, similar to The Sermon on the Mount and  The Ten. Over roughly 14 to 18 lessons, we will examine, along with the psalmist, the attributes of the God who breathed out Scripture, and the way He uses Scripture to grow, strengthen, comfort, reassure, and equip us.

But before we get started studying next Wednesday, how about a little fun?

You’ve probably noticed that I design a title picture for each Bible study I write. Here are a few past title pics:

You can see the rest of them at the Bible Studies tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page, if you like, to get a feel for my style and the general appearance I like my title pics to portray.

Y’all have sent in some beautiful and creative entries in our past title pic contests – indeed, the title pics for The Sermon on the Mount, The Women of Genesis, Living Stones, and Imperishable Beauty were all designed by readers – so, once again, I wanted to get some of you involved in the design process for our new study.

Do you enjoy and have a knack for photo editing? Know someone who does? If so, I’m accepting submissions for title pictures for the Psalm 119 study. If your submission is chosen it will be used each week of the study, and you’ll be credited (name or website) by watermark. I’d love to be able to offer a huge cash prize, but, hey, we’re small potatoes here. This is just for fun and maybe a little publicity for your site, if you have one.

Contest Guidelines

 You must use images that don’t require attribution. Pictures you’ve taken yourself are fine, as are images from sources such as Pixabay, Pexels, Freely, Unsplash, StockSnap, or other free stock photo web sites. Please include the image source web sites you use along with your submission. (You cannot just grab and use any old picture off the internet. Photographers own their images and usually require permission, attribution, and often a fee, for their use.)

Title pics should be landscape (a horizontal rectangle) with a width of 1000-2000 pixels and proportionate height. I prefer JPG images, but PNG is fine, too, if necessary.

 Your title pic must contain the full title of the study: Psalm 119: The Glory of God’s Word (Be sure to double check your spelling and punctuation. You can leave the colon after 119 out if “Psalm 119” and “The Glory of God’s Word” are not on the same line. See my image above.).

 If your submission is selected, I’ll be glad to watermark it with your website address (please submit your picture without any watermarks) if you have one, as long as your web site doesn’t conflict with my statement of faith or my beliefs outlined in the Welcome tab.

 Deadline for submissions is 11:59 p.m., Monday, January 31, 2022

E-mail your title pic submission along with your full name, web site address (if any), and the source(s) you used for your image(s) to MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com. You are welcome to submit as many images as you like.

 Please don’t be offended if your submission isn’t selected. If I peruse all the submissions and I’m just not “feeling it,” I may still elect to design one of my own.

Feel free to share this around with friends who have an interest in photo editing. If you want to take a whack at it for fun but don’t know where to start, play around with Be Funky, PicMonkey, or Canva and see which one works best for you.

Think about – maybe even read – Psalm 119 and try to capture in your image the theme of the chapter or a key truth expressed by a certain verse.

Happy designing!

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Second Degree Separation?

In your articles about false teachers you state as one of your reasons for recommending against a teacher: “The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be partnering with or frequently appearing with false teachers. This is a violation of Scripture.”

You seem to be advocating what our church calls, ‘Second Degree Separation’.  An example would be, “We separate from Joel Osteen because he is a false teacher and we separate from Bob because Bob often appears with Joel Osteen.” Are you advocating Second Degree Separation?

I’ve never received this question before, but I thought it was a really good one, not just for those who might be wondering the same thing, but to explain a doctrine the average Christian probably isn’t familiar with.

If you’re not familiar with “Secondary” or “Second Degree” separation, the person who asked the question gave a very clear example of the gist of it. Got Questions provides a similar example, goes into a little more detail, and makes some very good points. (We’re going to circle back to that article in just a minute.)

The short answer to the reader’s question is “No.” I neither subscribe to, nor apply, the law of secondary separation when considering whether or not to recommend a teacher. I do exactly what I’ve always encouraged all of you to do: compare a teacher’s teaching and behavior to rightly handled Scripture.

Here is why I recommend that you not follow “Bob” (teachers who yoke in ministry with false teachers like “Joel Osteen”):

1. When “Bob” yokes with people he knows or has been biblically warned are false teachers, he is willfully and unrepentantly disobeying Scripture. I would warn women not to follow any teacher who’s willfully and unrepentantly, despite biblical warning and correction from others, participating in any sin. If, for example, Joyce Meyer were 100% doctrinally sound and yoked with no other false teachers, but were living in unrepentant adultery or embezzling, I would still warn women away from her.

And, I’d like to emphasize regarding all the “Bobs” I recommend against:

  • Yoking with false teachers is not a one time “oopsie” for “Bob”. All of these “Bobs” frequently yoke with false teachers. (Alistair Begg spoke at a 2019 conference that Beth Moore also spoke at, either because he didn’t realize the depths of the issues with her, or he didn’t know she was going to be asked to speak at the time he agreed to speak, or because once he found out she was going to speak, he considered it too late to cancel. To my knowledge, he hasn’t done so since, and he’s on my list of recommended Bible teachers1.) Doctrinally sound teachers make the occasional honest mistake. That’s not what we’re dealing with here. “Bob” doesn’t think yoking with these teachers is a mistake or a sin, and he keeps on doing it.
  • Even if “Bob” didn’t initially know “Joel Osteen” was a false teacher when he yoked with him the first time (which, as a responsible Bible teacher and Christian, he should have), he’s been informed, warned, and rebuked by multiple people. (When Alistair Begg1 decided to go through with speaking at the aforementioned conference, his followers came absolutely unglued, and he heard about it. I personally witnessed many people telling him he shouldn’t be appearing with her and why.)

2. On top of directly disobeying Scripture, habitually and unrepentantly yoking with false teachers demonstrates that “Bob” either does not understand Scripture and doctrine well enough, or does not care about Scripture and doctrine enough to be teaching it to anybody. Why? Because he either does not know or is ignoring the Scriptures that the false teachers he’s yoking with are violating. He is not doing his best to “present himself as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), and he’s one of the “many” who should not become teachers because he can’t stand up to the stricter judgment James 3:1 talks about.

3. Particularly for pastors (but I see no biblical reason not to apply the same standard to other male and female Bible teachers), yoking with false teachers disqualifies him from the pastorate / eldership, and that’s not somebody I’m going to recommend that anyone follow. Titus 1:9, part of the biblical qualifications for pastors / elders, says: “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” When “Bob” partners with false teachers, he’s not rebuking those who contradict sound doctrine, he’s giving approval to them and their false teaching. He is committing pastoral malpractice and betraying the God-given duty of his office. That’s not the kind of person anybody should be looking up to, following, or receiving teaching from.

4. False teachers influence those who keep company with them. When “Bob” yokes with “Joel Osteen”, “Joel’s” false doctrine is influencing “Bob”: Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 Birds of a feather flock together. When you lie down with the dogs, you get up with the fleas. I haven’t run across a single “Bob” who is doctrinally sound in all areas except for yoking with false teachers. All the “Bobs” I recommend against are biblically problematic in other areas of their theology as well.

And just to be clear, the “Bobs” I recommend against are not appearing at a conference with “Joel Osteen” or preaching at his “church” and rebuking him or correcting his false doctrine (see #3 above). “Bob” is either preaching basically the same thing as “Joel,” or his preaching is flying enough under the radar that “Joel” doesn’t think “Bob” is disagreeing with him. If “Joel” thought “Bob” was rebuking him, that would be the last time “Bob” was ever invited to speak at “Joel’s” conference or “church”.

And that’s what I want to circle back to in the Got Questions article linked above. The example of secondary separation they give is this:

Secondary separation works like this:
a) Mr. False is a heretic, teaching a false gospel.
b) We refuse to associate with Mr. False (and rightly so).
c) Mr. True, who is a sound, biblical teacher, speaks at a conference where Mr. False is also speaking.
d) We now refuse to associate with Mr. True, because of his association with Mr. False.

Point “c” is a false premise, because Secondary Separation assumes “Mr. True” is doctrinally sound. First of all, if “Mr. True” is known to be a doctrinally sound, Titus 1:9 preacher, he doesn’t get invited to speak at conferences that also invite heretics. Outside of debates (which are different from conferences), it just doesn’t happen. Second, I would challenge anyone to show me a “sound, biblical teacher” (“Mr. True”) who would knowingly (see #1 above) agree to speak at a conference with a heretic. Part of being a “sound, biblical teacher” is being discerning and obeying Titus 1:9 and all the other Scriptures that command us to rebuke, expose, and stay away from false teachers. In other words, if “Mr. True” is knowingly and non-rebukingly yoking with false teachers, he is, by definition, not a “sound, biblical teacher”.

5. Yoking with false teachers introduces “Bob’s” followers to those false teachers. When “Bob” yokes with “Joel Osteen,” his followers understand him to be saying, “I approve of Joel and agree (or at least don’t disagree much) with his teaching.”. “Bob” has just introduced his followers to a false teacher, and many of them will start following “Joel” and being deceived by him. This is one of the foundational reasons why Scripture tells us to stay away from false teachers – it’s confusing to others and can lead them astray.

So when I warn against “Bob” for yoking in ministry with “Joel,” I’m not making the statement, “I believe in and apply the law of Second Degree Separation.” It’s much more an issue of, “Is the type of person who habitually and unrepentantly yokes with false teachers really the type of person you should receive teaching from and be influenced by?”. I think the Bible’s answer to that question is a clear and resounding “No.”.

1UPDATE: Since the original publication of this article, I have removed Alistair Begg from my list of recommended teachers, not because of this incident, but because it has come to my attention that he believes it’s OK for women to preach to / teach men as long as they’re doing so “under the authority” of the pastor / elders. Although he still seems to be a generally doctrinally sound teacher, this idea is unbiblical, and I cannot proactively recommend someone who holds to it.

Additional Resources:

Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends

Answering the Opposition- Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections

Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own


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.