Christian women, Discernment, False Teachers, Men

Women and False Teachers: Why Men Don’t Get It, and Why It’s Imperative That They Do

Originally published September 22, 2017

Confession time: Sometimes – OK, often – I think my brain works more like a man’s than a woman’s. You’ve got a problem? Suck it up- here’s the solution. The mall? A perfectly horrifying way to ruin a Saturday. And why do we have to hug people hello and goodbye when we see each other multiple times a week?

I’ve always been more comfortable around men, and when I was single, I had mostly male friends. They’re generally¹ less mysterious and easier to figure out than women, and they don’t usually play those manipulative emotional games some women can be notorious for. If a man says he wants a cheese sandwich, there’s no hidden “you don’t bring me flowers often enough” meaning there. He just wants a cheese sandwich. I like that. It’s pretty much how I operate.

Which makes me the perfect person for God to plunk down smack dab in the middle of women’s ministry, right?

Harrumph.

God just has this way about Him of stretching us and growing us beyond our comfortable little confines. I used to be terrified of walking into a room full of women (They’re so unpredictable! You never know when a big emotional scene might break out!) But after years of teaching and discipling women, developing close friendships with women, serving and ministering to women, I now walk into that room and see precious sisters, created oh so tenderly and intricately by God’s loving hands.

God purposefully and intentionally made each woman unique, but with common traits and perspectives that bind us together as sisters and differentiate us from men. And because men aren’t wired by God the same way women are, sometimes they’re just not going to get the way women think about things, approach people, or respond to issues. Sometimes (shopping, flowers, hugginess) that’s no big deal. They can shrug their shoulders, extend grace, and make space for the women in their lives to think, feel, and react differently than men would without really taking the time to understand why.

But there’s at least one biblical issue women respond to differently at the core level of their spiritual DNA than men do. And men, it’s crucial that you get it on this one. You’re the pastors. The elders. The husbands. The fathers. The ones responsible before God for leading your churches and your families in doctrinally sound spiritual growth. You’ve got to get this for the sake of the girls and women you lead:

Women respond differently to false teachers than men do.

And, ladies, we need to understand this about ourselves, too.

It started, not with the advent of modern feminism, or the church age, or even the Fall. It started in the Garden.

Genesis 3 begins…

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman

Have you ever wondered why the serpent approached Eve instead of Adam?

Before sin entered the world, before that snake in the grass even thought up his dastardly plan of deception, there was a void in the world. None of the animals or birds could fill it. Neither could Adam. God determined that, in order to make His creation complete, there was a need for woman to fill that void. So He reached down with His own two hands (so to speak) and personally crafted a woman.

God had made both animals and Adam out of cold, dead dirt. Not so with woman. God made woman out of soft, warm, living flesh, already coursing with life. God made man to tend the ground from which he had come. God made woman to tend the man from which she had come.

And in the same way God used a different method for creating man and woman and gave them different modes of work, He also gave them different mental and emotional makeups.

God created women with some incredible strengths. Women are usually much better nurturers than men. We’re often better at negotiating, compromising, and making peace between opposing parties. We’re more sensitive to what others are going through and how to treat people in a kind and compassionate way. We bear up under certain pains and stressors better than men do. We’re usually better communicators than men. And, frequently it’s much easier for women to trust, love, and give the benefit of the doubt to others.

And along with those unique strengths come unique challenges that we have to watch out for and that men need some insight about.

We’re kinder and more compassionate, so we have to be careful about people who would take advantage of that. Nurturing is great for raising our children, but if we baby them all their lives, that’s not healthy. Being trusting is a fantastic character trait, but it’s imperative that we be vigilant not to put our trust in the wrong person.

Could it be that the serpent approached Eve instead of Adam because he thought she would be more trusting, give him the benefit of the doubt, and thus be easier to deceive?

First Timothy 2:14 echoes this idea. In 1 Timothy 2:11-14, God explains that women are not to teach men or exercise authority over men in the gathered body of Believers – the church. He gives two reasons for this in verses 13-14. The first reason (13) is the Creative order: “Adam was formed first, then Eve”. God’s second reason is in verse 14:

and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

It’s interesting that verse 13 refers to the specific woman, Eve, but verse 14 uses the more generic term “the woman.” Are women, as a whole, more likely to be victims of deceivers than men are? Scripture seems to point us that direction.

In 2 Timothy 3:1-9, Paul warns Timothy that people – including those in the church – will become more and more degenerate during the last days. There will even be those who have an outer facade of godliness but are not operating by the power and indwelling of the Holy Spirit (5). In other words: false teachers. Verses 6-7 tell us that among these false teachers are those…

…who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

In verse 16 of this same chapter we read that “all Scripture is breathed out by God,” and we know that God never makes mistakes or chooses His words haphazardly. So we know there’s a reason God uses the words “weak women” here. Not weak men, not weak Christians, not weak people – weak women. God graciously gives a warning to women not to be taken in by these false teachers, and an exhortation to men – particularly pastors, since this is a pastoral epistle – to protect the women of their churches and families against those who would prey upon tenderhearted, trusting women.

One reason these women are weak is that they’re led astray by various passions. Today, the word “passion” or “passionate” often has a sexual connotation, but that’s not the only meaning, especially not here. Dictionary.com defines passion as “any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate; a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything.” Merriam-Webster says passion is, “the emotions as distinguished from reason; a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept.”

As with so many other valuable characteristics God has blessed women with, passion is a two-edged sword. God wants us to have a passion for holiness, pursing Christ, and biblical ministry to others, but we have to be extremely careful to steward that passion with the reins, bit, and bridle of discernment and knowledge of the Scriptures. Otherwise, we will pour our passion – our powerful and compelling loyalty, enthusiasm, fondness, and love – into the wrong teachers and doctrines.

Which brings us full circle to Eve, because that’s where her train jumped the tracks.

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
Genesis 3:4-6 

Notice the serpent doesn’t invite Eve to something blatantly evil. “God knows…” “…you will be like God.” He’s tempting her to do something she thinks is godly. Then Eve takes her eyes off God and His word and looks instead at the tree.

🍃It was good for food The fruit would satisfy a felt need. It was practical. She and Adam needed supper. Here was an easy solution. And, besides, it looked delicious and nutritious.

🍃It was a delight to the eyes– The fruit appealed to Eve’s sense of beauty. It looked good to her.

🍃It was to be desired to make one wise– Eve had a passion to grow in wisdom and godliness, and this beautiful, appealing, practical, attractive fruit seemed, in her eyes, the best and most enjoyable way to reach that goal.

This is the same way women are being deceived today. The attractive “tree” (Ever notice that most false teachers are at least somewhat physically attractive – “a delight to the eyes”?) extends a branch with lovely-looking, supposedly nutritious fruit on it which she says will lead to godly wisdom and growth (even though her teaching conflicts with God’s written Word). And it’ll be delicious too. Those who bite the apple will feast on love, positive thoughts, encouragement, and self-esteem-building teaching. It’s too appealing to the woman’s senses – and she’s too weak in her knowledge of Scripture and her desire to obey it – to pass up. She succumbs to the passions of her senses, plucks the fruit, and eats.

And then a fascinating phenomenon begins to take place. The weak woman feeds her passions with the fruit of false doctrine, and then she begins to pour that passion – that intense, compelling loyalty, love, fondness, and enthusiasm – into the false teacher herself. As anyone who has ever tried to gently open a devotee’s eyes can attest, hell hath no fury like a confronted Beth Moore disciple. I have seen women defend their favorite false teachers – against clear Scripture, mind you – with a viciousness I’m not sure I could muster to protect my own children against physical harm.

Men may enjoy a particular false teacher, but women worship them.

And this is the crux of the difference that men rarely grasp when the topic of discernment comes up. I’ve talked to countless pastors who don’t understand why simply preaching and teaching sound doctrine from the pulpit and in the Sunday School class isn’t sufficient to protect their churches from the infiltration of false doctrine and false teachers. This is why.

Maybe a man will hear hear a biblical truth, realize the preacher he’s been listening to conflicts with it, and simply walk away. A woman won’t. Because, not only has the teaching a woman listens to inextricably wrapped its tentacles around the very core of her soul, she has also formed an emotional bond with the teacher that’s almost impossible to break. She loves her. And she will nearly always choose that loving, bonded “relationship” over biblical truth, giving the teacher the benefit of the doubt and making excuses for her every step of the way.

The Holy Spirit gets it. He understands the power false teachers wield over weak women and the destruction false teaching in general brings upon the church, so He inspired Paul to write Titus 1:9:

[A pastor] 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.

Pastors who only preach sound doctrine are only doing half their job. And notice that this verse doesn’t merely say to “rebuke teaching that contradicts sound doctrine” in a generic sort of way. It says rebuke “those who” contradict it. “Those who” are people. Specific people. People with names.

Many pastors and teachers don’t want to name names of false teachers. They’ll quote false teachers, allude to them, describe them, and drop hints as to their identity, hoping against hope their church members will figure out who they’re talking about and stop following them. But they don’t want to call specific names. I understand the fear of naming names. It opens pastors up to attack by the aforementioned disciples of false teachers. I’ve experienced their venom, and believe me, nobody wants to go through that.

But guys – pastors, teachers, husbands – I’m telling you the women you’re preaching to, the women who are in the tightest clutches of false teachers aren’t getting it. They are not going to hear your veiled allusions to “some Christian authors who say…” or “the pastor of one of the largest churches in America teaches…” and think you’re talking about the false teacher they’re following. They think you’re talking about somebody else. The guy their neighbor is following. That crazy preacher on TBN. But not my favorite Southern Baptist “Bible” study teacher who’s a best seller at LifeWay and is touted on social media by well known pastors.

It takes courage – manly courage – to stand up in front of your congregation, class, or wife and warn them against specific false teachers, but that’s what godly men – who love the women in their churches and families and want to see them spiritually healthy – do.

We need your help, men. The church needs your help. Your family needs your help. Please get this so you can help other “Eves” not to be deceived and weak women to become strong followers of Christ, not false teachers.


¹If it’s not abundantly clear from context, please understand that I’m speaking in generalities in this article. Naturally, individuals vary.


Additional Resources

Only Men May be Pastors at Founders Ministries

Christian women

Throwback Thursday ~ A Pox Upon Our House: Three Chronic Diseases Plaguing Women’s Ministry

Originally published December 1, 2017

“What’s the number one problem in women’s ministry today?”

It’s a question I was recently asked in an interview; one I can’t get off my mind. There are many good and wonderful things I see trending in women’s ministry, which are creating an increasing number of biblically strong, godly Christian women. But those women are still a tiny minority – a remnant, you might say – in contemporary evangelicalism. The problems, on the other hand? Overwhelming. Discouraging. Pervasive.

In fact, it’s a huge problem just to sit down and sort out exactly what the problems with women’s ministry are because they’re not in nice, neat little linear compartments. There is no one single most important problem in women’s ministry. The issues are interwoven and exacerbate one another, which leads to declining spiritual health for Christian women as a whole.

There’s a name for that in medical jargon: multimorbidity. Often seen in elderly patients, it’s a term used for someone who has multiple chronic medical problems: heart disease, diabetes, and COPD, for example. Each disease may work against the body in different ways, but they all work together to put the patient in a condition of overall poor health.

Fortunately, when it comes to the pox on God’s house – the Body of Christ – the Great Physician has written us the prescription for a cure that’s one hundred per cent effective. All we have to do is be good patients and take our medicine exactly as prescribed.

Possibly the most foundational disease in women’s ministry is the simple fact that there’s a large contingent of “Christian” women who aren’t Christians – they’re false converts. Their hearts aren’t diseased or even failing; they have dead, lifeless hearts of stone. These women might think they’re Christians, look like Christians, tell you they’re Christians, and go through all the right, outward Christian motions, but because they have never truly repented of their sin and placed their faith in Christ for salvation, they are not genuinely regenerated, born again, new creatures in Christ, Christians. And people who are unregenerate exhibit the symptom of being unregenerate: they prefer sin to Christ. When there are unregenerate women in your church – and they’re in nearly every church – their symptomatology is going to affect the women’s ministry and the overall health of the Body.

Congenital. Exacerbated by easy believism, mass sinner’s prayers, and the seeker driven movement.

A heart transplant via the proclamation of the rightly handled biblical gospel. We must make sure we don’t assume that just because someone attends church or says she’s a Christian, she’s been born again. We also can’t assume everyone knows the biblical gospel. The gospel has been so twisted and watered down in our culture that many people think they’re saved because they repeated a sinner’s prayer, got baptized, go to church, or are “good people.” Pastors must preach and teachers must teach the hard edges of the law, man’s guilt, God’s wrath, and eternal Hell so that they will know what they’re being saved from, as well as God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, so they will understand what they’re being saved to. Only those with new hearts of flesh can contribute to the spiritual health of the church.

Ezekiel 36:26: And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 

Many Christian women starve themselves spiritually without even knowing it. She’ll lay an elegant table of women’s ministry activities with the fine china and flatware of women’s “Bible” study books and DVDs, but when you glance over at her plate, she’s pushing one measly little piece of a Bible verse around with a fork.

And wondering why she’s so hungry.

Christian women today don’t know their Bibles. And it’s not because the pure milk and meat of the Word aren’t available for them to consume. It’s that they won’t eat. Sometimes it’s the aforementioned “heart failure” of being unsaved. (It’s only natural that a lost person would have no interest in studying God’s Word.) And sometimes it’s because they’ve spent their formative years under pastors and women’s “Bible” study teachers who starved them by never properly feeding them a well balanced diet of Scripture.

When an anorexic doesn’t eat, her entire body begins to shut down. Every organ, every body system, is affected. It’s the same way with women who starve themselves of God’s Word. There are heart problems: lack of love, trust, and belief in Christ and His Word. The digestive system becomes unable to handle a healthy meal of Scripture. The immune system isn’t strong enough to fight off the pathogens of false teaching. The brain can’t think biblically. Women’s ministry becomes a battle of a few healthy souls trying to coax the stubborn starving masses. “Just try one bite? Please?”

Exposure to pastors, teachers, Christian retailers, and Divangelistas who tell Christian women that the lacy tablecloth and the flowery centerpieces and the crystal stemware of Bible-flavored fluff are all they really need to keep them alive.

Nutritional therapy with copious helpings of Bible. These women have never even seen what a full plate of healthy spiritual food looks like, so they don’t know that’s what they need – to feast on God’s Word. They need pastors and teachers who will feed them regular, well balanced meals of in context, rightly handled Scripture and train them to feed themselves at home between therapy sessions.

Job 23:12: I have not departed from the commandment of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.

Deuteronomy 8:3: And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

This pernicious disease develops as women ingest, over time, the poison of false doctrine fed to them by the “Christian” leaders they follow. Sometimes led poisoning can be a cause of anorexia scriptura – a woman gobbles up the sweet paint chips of unbiblical teaching, thinking she’s filling up on Scripture, and is left with no appetite for the real thing. Sometimes led poisoning can be an effect of anorexia scriptura – a woman is so starved for God’s Word that she’ll consume anything that tastes good in order to fill the void. And sometimes it’s yet another symptom of heart failure – a lost woman who prefers even a toxin to God’s Word. In any case, the result is a sickly patient with multiple systems failure who often infects others by enticing them to follow the leader.

Environmentally transmitted. Strikes women with itching ears and flaccid discernment. Highly communicable to those with compromised immune systems due to improper biblical nutrition.

Chelation therapy – a process of ridding the body of the toxins she’s been led to. Discerning pastors and teachers must patiently, clearly, and unapologetically expose unbiblical teaching, including warning women away from false teachers by name. Symptoms of led poisoning include hearing impairment and learning disabilities, so the diseased patient isn’t going to get it if a pastor is hinting around about false teachers without giving specific names. He’s got to be loud and clear about exactly who is a false teacher and exactly how her doctrine and practices conflict with Scripture if he wants to cure the patient. Prophylactic treatment with regular inoculations of sound doctrine should also be prescribed.

Titus 1:9: 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.

2 Timothy 3:5-7: [People] having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

 

These are just three of the serious diseases that are an epidemic in women’s ministry today. The cure is simple: the gospel, sound doctrine, and the study of Scripture. The prognosis is sure: spiritually strong and healthy Christian women. It’s just what the Doctor ordered.

Testimony Tuesday

Testimony Tuesday: Katie’s Story

Katie’s Story

Hi, my name is Katie. I am a wife to a great husband and mom to young children like many of you; loving the Lord and trying to live for His glory, and this is my story…

I became a believer in the summer before eighth grade. I had lived in the “Bible Belt” south all my life, but had not heard the full gospel until then. My family did not attend church. It was only my older sister who had started going to church, became a believer, and relentlessly kept inviting me until I at least starting going to youth group meetings. Once I finally came, I realized that the youth there were different from all the other kids I had met moving around and going to a few different public elementary schools. I was intrigued, and quickly became a regular in youth activities at the church. I started going to the Sunday morning services too. At a back to school rally, it finally all clicked for me and I fully understood the gospel and fully and completely gave my life to the Lord, asking Him alone to save me from my sin, and grant me new life in Him.

It was such a transformation! The Lord gave me a newfound desire to read His Word; to try and understand better who I was now as a believer.

It was such a transformation!

Fast forward a couple of years to about age 21. I started reading the “Christian” books for women that I was finding at LifeWay and other Christian stores. I found Beth Moore’s materials, and her style of writing and speaking was very interesting to me. She had a very likable persona when she spoke. She seemed like the coolest Christian woman ever. Always smiling and joking, telling stories with spiritual messages. Always seemed well put together. “Who would not like to be her?” I thought.

I just did not know that her Bible teaching was not exactly rightly dividing the Word of Truth. I quickly accumulated a bunch of her studies, books, and started going to some of her events. I became a regular on her blog on her ministry website too. I would check her blog everyday, comment on virtually anything her or her writing staff posted. I know, I had completely bought into her teachings. I even met her once at an event, very briefly, and she recognized who I was by my screen name on the blog. She even gave a shout out to me on her blog once.

The red flags started popping up…

I did not want to think that there was anything wrong with her teachings. That is, until the “red flags” started popping up. I came across some critiques of her on the internet on discernment blogs of various kinds. Some of them were written thoughtfully and fairly I thought, but some were just downright mean and hateful. Did they even know her or follow her teachings all that much? I didn’t think any of these critics knew her personally.

I started to see it though. She wasn’t actually dividing the Word of Truth very accurately. She would not listen to anyone either that tried to alert her or warn her. Not enough to change the theological direction she was heading in anyway. It concerned me that she seemed to be trying to bring in the Catholic Church into fellowship with Protestant denominations in her Believing God study videos. It concerned me that she seemed OK with preaching to men. I tried writing many letters to her, but the replies I received, just a few sentences from her or a pre-made letter from her writing staff did not satisfy my questions about what she was teaching or doing at her events and in her Bible studies. It really broke my heart because I think that Beth and her staff really cared a bunch for me, and I for them. I had followed the blog so closely that I felt like I “knew” Beth as a friend. As a spiritual mentor even. She seemed almost like family.

I felt like I knew Beth…She seemed almost like family.

However, after Beth appeared on Joyce Meyer’s TV show and endorsed her to her face, I knew enough to know that I couldn’t follow her blog anymore or recommend her or her teachings to anyone. I, who had actually facilitated her studies at my church, now did not want her studies at my church. I wrote to her by hand to tell her that I could not follow her or recommend her anymore, but I would at least pray for her. I had told her on her blog that I would always pray for her and her family, and I wanted to keep my promise. I truly meant that. She had been through such an awful childhood experience and I felt such sadness that she was so deceived, and was now deceiving others, not rightly teaching God’s Word. I told her I really wished it was not her who was doing and teaching these things. I still pray that one day, if it is possible, that she would repent.

It has taken a few years now for me to separate myself from who I was and how I thought that I should relate to God to who I am now, and how to truly, biblically relate to God and His Word as a true believer. It has been a journey of sorts, having to go back to the pure truths of God’s Word. I became legitimately depressed because, come to find out, not just Beth Moore; but quite a few of the women authors who sold studies and books at Lifeway and other Christian bookstores are not rightly teaching God’s Word either. I had no idea. Naive? Yes, for sure, I think, looking back now.

But I can warn other women…

But, I can warn other women like myself. Other Christian young or older women need to be told to be Bereans. Research the teachers that you listen to! Even look into the Christian music that you listen to! You need to know God’s Word. The Bible is truth without error. Do not be ignorant of the Scriptures and proper hermeneutics- how to properly understand and interpret the Scriptures. Do not just blindly follow any so called Christian celebrity teacher that you think is interesting. Really look into what they believe and teach and see if it does square with the Bible or not. If it doesn’t match up, even if you love their personality, don’t follow them anymore.

Hopefully, my story can help you in your walk with the Lord, my sisters in Christ.

With much love, Katie.


Ladies, God is still at work in the hearts and lives of His people, including yours! Would you like to share a testimony of how God saved you, how He has blessed you, convicted you, taught you something from His Word, brought you out from under false doctrine, placed you in a good church or done something otherwise awesome in your life? Contact me, or comment below. Your testimony can be as brief as a few sentences or as long as 1500 words. Let’s encourage one another with God’s work in our lives!

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (The Bible Project, leaving Elevation, Bible study supplements, Attend the study?…)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question.

I like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar (at the very bottom of each page) can be a helpful tool!

Or maybe I answered your question already? Check out my article The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs to see if your question has been answered and to get some helpful resources.


A friend recently recommended your website for guidance with deciphering false teachers. I am wondering what do I do with all the books that I will now be getting rid of. I can’t in my right mind donate them or sell them. Is it enough to recycle them? Should they be trashed or even burned? Thanks in advance for your time and wisdom in this question. Thank you for your site and all the research and resources you have put together. I appreciate you.

How very kind of you to say! It is my absolute pleasure to serve you, and all my readers, in Christ.

I rejoice with you that God is growing you in discernment. Your instinct not to donate or sell these materials is correct. Throwing them out (render them unreadable first) or burning them is the best thing to do. (See section 3 of this article for more – you are not alone!)

(Long time readers- I know you’ve seen me address this question several times, but it is so encouraging to me to hear from women whose eyes have been opened to biblical truth, and I figured it would be encouraging to you, too. I might address this question every time I receive it just for the encouragement factor! :0)


Have you researched The Bible Project?

I have not, but my friend Gabriel Hughes has done a bunch of research on it. The short version is that he doesn’t recommend it. Click here for the long version.


I read your article about leaving Elevation Church. I am interested in hearing more about your experience.

Thank you for asking. I’d love to help you out, but as you can see from the title of the article and other remarks before, after, and in the article, this was a guest post, written by one of my readers who wishes to remain anonymous. I didn’t write it. I’ve never been to Elevation nor laid eyes on Steven Furtick.

If you have a question for the author of the article, I would suggest leaving a comment in the comment box on that article (click “leaving Elevation church” above, and leave your comment there, or she probably won’t see it). I will leave it up to her to check the comments from time to time and reply as she feels appropriate. (Just to save fans of Furtick, Elevation, and false doctrine some time: I will not be publishing your comments.)

Or, seeing as I’ve received several comments and questions about this article, if someone would like to start a “Survivors of Elevation” sort of Facebook group, send me the link. As long as I don’t receive any reports of unbiblical shenanigans, I’ll refer any inquiries I receive to the group.


Do you know if any good resources to study 1 Corinthians? Any good books, sermons, teachings you know about? It’s for my church’s ladies Bible Study. We read from the Bible but always like an extra sound resource.

While I don’t make recommendations for what I call “canned” (book, workbook, DVD, etc.) Bible studies, if you’re already studying straight from the Bible itself it can be helpful to use some good study aids, sermons, etc. as supplements from time to time. Here’s what I’d recommend for 1 Corinthians or any other book of the Bible:

Bible Book Backgrounds: Why You Need Them and Where to Find Them (I would also recommend any of the other materials at these three sites, not just the book backgrounds.)

Study Bibles, Commentaries, Dictionaries, and Bible Study Helps (see #4)

Recordings / transcripts of any previous sermons your own pastor has preached on the passage you’re studying.

Anything John MacArthur / Grace to You has preached, taught, or written on the passage. (Use the search bar)

Anything R.C. Sproul / Ligonier has preached, taught, or written on the passage. (Use the search bar. Also note that this is a Presbyterian ministry, so if you are more in the Baptistic stream, there will be a few perspectives you don’t align with,  but it’s always helpful to hear the other side of the issue from a doctrinally sound source.)

When using these resources (except for the Bible book backgrounds), I would strongly recommend studying the passage yourself first, and then listening to someone else’s sermon, reading someone else’s article, etc. Do the work of digging in by yourself, without being influenced by anybody else’s voice.

Why? A) It’s good discipline. We need to be able to mine the Scriptures and hear God speaking to us through His word for ourselves, without someone else doing the work for us and telling us what the passage means or how it applies. B) It’s such an amazing experience to grasp what God is saying in a particular passage and then turn to other Christians – maybe even Christians who lived hundreds of years ago and thousands of miles away – to whom God revealed the exact same thing by the exact same Holy Spirit. It will help you get a bigger sense of the inspiration of Scripture, the Holy Spirit’s work through His living and active Word, God’s sovereignty, and your connection to, and fellowship with the church catholic (“little ‘c'” / universal).


Regarding the steps listed in “How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing”: If I talk to the Women’s Ministry Team and they decide to use the wrong teaching regardless, is it best to AVOID the classes or attend and be quiet? Previously, I attended and stayed quiet. I did not like that strategy, but to bow out totally feels uncomfortable as well. Just wondered whether anyone else has this issue. Pretty sure I will bow out next time.

Great question – and yes, it’s an issue for many women, unfortunately.

First, just in case you or another reader might need clarity on this part of the article (in #4a), when I say “approach [the women’s ministry leader] first before going over her head to the elders or pastor. You want to win your sister over to the truth, if possible, not simply force her to change things because a superior tells her she has to,” and “it’s usually best to approach the lower level leader, if any, before going over his head,” I don’t mean to approach only the women’s ministry leader or other lower level leader(s).

If you go to the women’s ministry leader, following the steps in the article, and she ends up saying, “Sorry, but I think you’re wrong and we’re going to do this study anyway,” you don’t stop there. You start over at step 1 with the next person up the chain of command – for example, the elder or associate pastor who handles discipleship/Bible study. You go through all the steps with him. If he gives you the same answer as the women’s ministry leader, you keep going up the chain of command until somebody listens and does what’s biblical or until you get to the top of the chain (in most cases, the pastor), whichever comes first.

If you’ve gotten all the way to the pastor and he, despite the evidence you’ve given him essentially says, “I don’t care. I’m going to allow the women’s ministry to keep using materials by false teachers,” it is then time for you (and your husband, if you’re married) to start considering whether or not you need to move your membership to another, more doctrinally sound church.

Deciding whether or not to attend the “Bible” study class is only necessary if you can’t find a more doctrinally sound church to move to, or if it’s something like, for example, you and your husband prayerfully come to the conclusion that you need to give this church six more months before you decide to leave it.

If you’re in a similar situation to one of those scenarios, I would not recommend attending the study and remaining quiet about the false doctrine being taught. This makes it appear that you either aren’t discerning enough to know there’s false doctrine in the study, or worse, that you either don’t care about the false doctrine being taught, or that you actually agree with it. I think you’ll find my article The Mailbag: Should I attend the “Bible” study to correct false doctrine? to be helpful.


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.

Celebrity Pastors, Discernment

Throwback Thursday ~ Stricter Judgment, Even for MY Favorite Teacher

Originally published September 29, 2017

It’s a funny thing that it’s so easy for us to see the far away faults and foibles of others, but the ones in our own hearts – the sins and hypocrisy we know most intimately – are constantly in our spiritual blind spot. Jesus understood this all too well and admonished us to make sure our own hands are clean before taking the tweezers to the mote in a sister’s eye.

Often, it’s not that we’re ignoring the plank that’s obscuring our vision, we’re just not even aware that it’s there. When I evaluate my own heart to confess my sins to the Lord, the ones that weigh heaviest on my spirit are not those that I know I’ve committed and need to repent of, it’s the ones I’m sure are lurking somewhere… but I can’t quite put my finger on them.

One of the subtle hypocrisies theologically orthodox, blameless and upright, discerning Christians can have trouble seeing in ourselves is our failure to hold our favorite pastors and teachers to the same biblical standards we apply to other pastors and teachers.

We correctly criticize Steven Furtick and Beth Moore for palling around with the likes of Joyce Meyer and T.D. Jakes, but when Lauren Chandler speaks at IF:Gathering several years in a row, co-hosts a summer Bible study with Beth Moore, and publicly declares her desire to meet Christine Caine, suddenly, it’s “touch not mine anointed” just because she’s married to our darling Matt?

What if John MacArthur decided it would be a good idea to invite Joel Osteen to speak at ShepCon next year?

Or R.C. Sproul annually celebrated Reformation Day by getting snockered at a local pub?

Or you found out Alistair Begg’s style of “shepherding” was to intimidate his staff and church members through outbursts of rage?

Would you make excuses for them? Sweep this stuff under the rug and continue to listen to their sermons and read their books without batting an eye?

Pastors and teachers don’t get a pass on sin just because they’re Reformed, or discerning, or have a virtually unblemished record of doctrinal soundness, or because they’re “one of the good guys.” If they’re called to account, and they repent and strive toward holiness, hallelujah! That’s what God requires of all Christians – that we walk before Him blamelessly and bear fruit in keeping with repentance. But if they unrepentantly persist in sin despite biblical correction, there’s a problem there- with their own hearts, and with ours, if we knowingly turn a blind eye to their willful disobedience just because they’re our favorites.

God makes it clear throughout His Word that pastors, teachers, and others in positions of spiritual leadership bear a grave responsibility to set a godly example for those who look to them for teaching and guidance. And, in certain ways, God requires a higher standard for those in spiritual leadership than He requires of Christians He has not called to lead.

…No man of the offspring of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the Lord’s food offerings; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God. He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy things, but he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries, for I am the Lord who sanctifies them…
Leviticus 21

…And Moses said to Aaron and to Eleazar and Ithamar his sons, “Do not let the hair of your heads hang loose, and do not tear your clothes, lest you die, and wrath come upon all the congregation; but let your brothers, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning that the Lord has kindled. And do not go outside the entrance of the tent of meeting, lest you die, for the anointing oil of the Lord is upon you.” And they did according to the word of Moses…
Leviticus 10:1-11

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
1 Timothy 4:12

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
Titus 2:7-8

not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
1 Peter 5:3

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
Philippians 3:17

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1

But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
Luke 12:45-48

you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 
Romans 2:21-23

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 
James 3:1

As the passages above allude to, sound doctrine, while crucial, is not God’s only requirement for pastors and teachers. They are also required to rebuke those who contradict sound doctrine (not befriend them or join them on the conference dais). And Paul outlines the numerous behavioral requirements for pastors, elders, and deacons not once but twice, even going so far as to say that deacons must “prove themselves blameless” and that “an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach.” Right theology does not excuse wrong behavior.

Why, then, when God’s standards for those who lead are so high, are we quick to sweep aside unrepentant wrongdoing by the teachers we hold most dear, sometimes even holding them to lower standards than we would hold ourselves? “I would never preach to men, but I’ll give Teacher X a pass on it.” “There’s no way I’d partner with a false teacher, but it’s not a big deal that Preacher Y does it.”

The Jesus who says “be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect,” who says that even one sin is one sin too many, is not a God who is OK with His people glossing over disobedience. God wants sin dealt with, repented of, and forsaken, especially in those who lead, because receiving correction and repenting of sin sets a rare and phenomenal biblical example for Christians to follow.

Do we go off the deep end and reject a trustworthy teacher the first time she does something a little iffy? Of course not. But should we step back, keep a closer, more objective eye on her and her trajectory as time goes by to see if she corrects her course? Yes. Should we stop following her if she continues to dive deeper and deeper into sin with no signs of turning around? Even if she’s always been doctrinally sound? Even if she’s complementarian? Even if she attends a church with a good theological reputation? Even if we’ve enjoyed all of her books thus far? Definitely.

Let’s shed some light on those blind spots our favorite teachers occupy and let our highest loyalty be to Christ, His Word, and His standards for leadership.