Discernment, False Doctrine, False Teachers

Exposing Deception

 

Are you looking forward to the Discerning Women Learn to Discern webinar Amy Spreeman and I are hosting on Thursday? (If you haven’t registered yet, there’s still time. Click here.) It’s being hosted by our very gracious friend, Bart McCurdy.

Recently, Bart hosted another online conference, Exposing Deception, featuring the teaching of Chris Rosebrough, Todd Friel, Phil Johnson, and Justin PetersIf you can’t wait until Thursday to start learning discernment, let these gents whet your appetite. (Don’t be alarmed- it seems as though the beginning portion of Chris’s session was cut off in the video, but there’s still plenty of great material here to learn from.)

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Should I Say, or Should I Go?

 

My family recently left a church that was embracing more and more New Apostolic Reformation false doctrine. However, we have many friends and family still attending. I’ve tried to lovingly point out that the church is teaching false doctrine, but I have been completely shut down. I don’t want to leave my loved ones where they are, but I feel they don’t want to see or hear the truth. They tell me they’ve searched the Scriptures and feel they are right. They also talk a lot about the feelings and experiences they have had and that, in their eyes, proves it’s God moving. My question is, how much should I engage with them? Should I just walk away and pray or keep talking with them about it?

It’s so heart-wrenching to love someone who blindly rejects the truth. We kind of “get it” on a spiritual level when that person is an atheist or just your run of the mill lost person, but if the person is a self-professed Christian – who is supposed to believe, love, and submit to God’s Word – it can seem especially baffling and difficult.

So how do we handle situations like this? Let’s back all the way up to the very foundation of the issue for those who haven’t yet faced this situation.

We have to start by making sure we have the correct understanding of what’s going on here. Every human being, whether he knows it or not, lives in two worlds: the physical world of everyday “real life” (tangible things, people, and decisions we consciously see,) and the spiritual world (where God moves and works and where demons try to thwart Him by stirring up chaos in the world) that we can’t see and that most people aren’t even aware of.

So the first thing we have to recognize in a situation like this, is that this is primarily a spiritual battle, rather than a tangible one. The fact that, in the physical realm, you clearly recognized the false doctrine in this church and acted upon that knowledge by leaving is the fruit of what God did in your heart in the spiritual realm. The things your loved ones have said to you and their decision to stay in an apostate church in the physical realm is the fruit of the fact that they are deceived, hard of heart, and probably unsaved, in the spiritual realm.

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,
1 Timothy 4:1-2

A spiritual realm problem requires a spiritual realm solution, and only God – not us – can effect true change in the spiritual realm. He must change the hearts of your loved ones. And until or unless He does, you can talk to them until you’re blue in the face and they will continue to dig their heels in.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.
John 6:44a
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:14

So the number one thing you should be doing in this situation is to pray. Ask God to intervene and do the work in their hearts that only He can do. Ask Him to open their eyes. Ask Him to woo them toward studying His Word. Ask Him to save them if they aren’t saved.

And while you’re down there on your knees, pray for yourself and ask God to help you study hard to understand His Word about this situation, and to give you the wisdom to know when to speak up and when to keep silent. Because, while God is the One doing the work, He works through His Word, using instruments like you and me to accomplish His work, much like a doctor uses instruments to perform surgery.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
Ecclesiastes 3:1,7a

Once you’ve asked God to guide you and give you wisdom, believe His Word and trust Him to do so. If you’re with one of these loved ones, and the time seems right to say an appropriate, biblical word, take a second to get your demeanor and tone in order, and then say it.

But, as you’ve said, you’ve already tried to talk biblical sense into your loved ones and they have rejected it. Now what? Should you just walk away and pray, or keep talking with them about it? Yes. There’s actually room for both in situations like this. Let’s take a look at a few biblical passages:

And behold, a man came up to [Jesus], saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness,  Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus said to his disciples…
Matthew 19:16-23a
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
1 Peter 3:1-2
If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace.
1 Corinthians 7:13-15

What do these passages have in common? They all help us to understand that:

  • not everybody we share the gospel with or impart biblical truth to is going to accept it.
  • we are under no obligation to chase people down or badger and nag them to death with biblical truth once we’ve shared it (and this may even do more harm to our cause than good).
  • it’s OK to share the truth and then back off for a while while, praying fervently, loving well, and setting a godly example.
  • it’s OK to let people to walk away from the truth once you’ve shared it.

It is perfectly OK to say to people who are hostile to the truth, “I love you and I’d like to share more of what the Bible says about this with you. If you’d ever like to talk more about it, just let me know. Now how about a piece of pie?”

And Jesus even goes further than that:

Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
Matthew 7:6

In Jesus’ day, dogs were not the cute little domesticated pooches we smooch on today. They were wild beasts more akin to a pack of coyotes or wolves. Pigs were the epitome of unclean animals and can be pretty violent when provoked. Jesus used these animals’ violence and uncleanness to represent lost people (regardless of whether or not they call themselves Christians) who respond in blasphemy, unbelief, and anger to the Pearl of Great Price. He’s saying that if you know a person has a history of acting this way and is likely to act this way again (e.g. Paul, prior to conversion), or if you’ve laid out biblical truth to someone and she responds with blasphemy, anger, and unbelief (e.g. your loved ones) it’s OK to climb out of the pig pen or the dog pound (or don’t get in there in the first place), take your pearls, and go home. God is demonstrating to you through this person’s behavior that He has not, at this particular time, softened this particular person’s heart to hear and receive what you’re saying. If He does soften that person’s heart in the future (as evidenced by her distinctly undoglike and unpiglike behavior) you can share the truth with her then.

Every person is different. Every situation is different. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of when to engage and when to keep silent. And that’s actually a good thing. That keeps us in prayer, completely dependent on the Lord and His Word for guidance.


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.

Mailbag, Social Media

The Mailbag: Contending for the Faith on Social Media

Originally published December 5, 2016

mailbag

 

I was wondering what your opinion is about using Facebook to correct false doctrine. Mostly what I do is post Scriptures, but every once in a while I may comment on something that is blatantly contrary to the Bible and I try to point to the appropriate Scriptures to show the truth. This mostly happens when a popular preacher or teacher that does not hold to sound doctrine posts something, or when a friend posts something that is clearly unbiblical.

This is such a great question that so many of us (including me!) struggle with. We love our friends and don’t want to see them believing something unbiblical (and spreading it around on social media) and it’s hard to just scroll past the blasphemy false teachers so often post without taking a stand for God’s word.

I readily admit I don’t have a perfect answer for this question. On the one hand, you want to protect your friends from error. On the other hand, there aren’t enough hours in the day to correct every single false teaching out there. And, if you try, people stop listening and you become ignorable background noise. Here are some of the principles I personally try to operate from on my personal (personal friends and family) social media pages. (I try to be consistent, but it doesn’t always work out that way):

  • Do keep in mind that – if it’s a matter of someone simply following a false teacher/ministry, not re-posting – people don’t always follow these accounts because they agree with them. Sometimes it’s to keep an eye on what the false teacher is teaching, to find out more about her doctrine because her materials are being introduced at church, etc. I follow two or three accounts on Twitter for reasons like that.
  • By and large, I don’t follow false teachers/ministries on social media. It just raises my blood pressure too much. So, for the most part, I don’t comment directly on false teachers’ posts because I don’t see them in my feed. If you do decide to comment, be sure you provide ample, in context Scripture passages to support what you’re saying, and comment in a patient, kind tone, not with histrionics, keeping in mind that most of the people who follow that false teacher are baby Christians, Christians who simply aren’t aware they’re being fed false doctrine, or false converts. Be aware that you’re almost certainly not going to change anyone’s mind, that people will verbally eviscerate you, and that the admin of the page will probably block and/or report you.
  • My main way of sharing biblical truth and discernment is to post about it on my own timeline. That way, the information is out there, yet direct confrontation is avoided.
  • When it comes to posting things on your own news feed, make sure you’re posting about good resources and teachers as well as warning about the bad. It’s not enough to get people away from bad teaching. They need somewhere to go for good teaching.
  • I have something of a “Golden Rule” policy about commenting on other people’s posts. I’ve had people comment on my discernment-type posts rebuking me and arguing with me for posting such things, as though they have some sort of right to dictate what I can and can’t post on my own page. That’s not right. People have the right to post what they want to post on their own page, and, while I’m not always perfect at it, I try to remember to respect that fact with others as I would want them to respect it with me. If what the person has posted concerns me for her soul, I will send her a private message. I operate on the assumption that people who claim to be Christians would want to know they’re posting something that’s in conflict with God’s word.
  • If someone’s post or comment makes me biblically angry, I try to remember to wait 24 hours before responding. I’ve found that helps me to calm down and respond more patiently and kindly. I’ve also found that sometimes my anger clouds my understanding of what the person actually meant. I have greater clarity the next day and can respond (or even refrain from responding) more appropriately.
  • There are two passages of Scripture I try to keep in mind when responding to people on social media about false teaching. The first is 2 Timothy 2:24-26. It reminds me of where that person might be coming from and how I am to comport myself:

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

The second is Matthew 7:6:

Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.

The Bible is the final word of the holy God of the universe. What He says, goes, whether people believe it or not. It is stake in the ground, unalterable truth that needs no defense from us to pigs and dogs (not that everyone who posts false doctrine is a pig or dog- sometimes they’re just unaware). Sometimes the best response you can give on social media is to patiently lay down simple biblical truth in one comment and walk away, refusing to engage in debate, and trusting God to work on people’s hearts through His word.

  • Above all, pray. Pray for the false teacher/ministry you’re concerned about. Pray for the friend or loved one who’s re-posting false doctrine, that God will open her eyes to the truth. Pray about whether you should approach someone on social media, in which venue (comment, private message, etc.), and for wisdom to use the right words, tone, and Scriptures.

If you have a question about: a well known Christian author/leader, 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.

Mailbag, Top 10

Top 10 Mailbag Articles of 2019

I always enjoy the annual “year in review” articles and TV shows that run in abundance in late December, so I thought I’d contribute my own. Several Mailbag articles were among this year’s most popular, so I decided to make two separate lists. Check out my top 10 non-Mailbag articles of 2019 tomorrow. Here are my ten most popular Mailbag blog articles from 2019:

Vaxxers, Anti-Vaxxers, and the Health of the Body

To vaccinate, or not to vaccinate? It’s a tough issue to discuss these days. 


Do You Recommend Angie Smith (“Seamless”)?

Wife of Todd Smith of the Christian music group, Selah, Angie started out as a blogger, then blossomed into a Christian author and speaker. Her best known book to date is a women’s study: Seamless: Understanding the Bible as One Complete Story


Potpourri (Todd Friel on Rick Warren, Enneagram, Should I stay or should I go?…)

Todd says Rick isn’t a heretic?…Sharply, yet gently, rebuking false teachers…What is an Enneagram?…Books vs. interactions…Should I leave my women’s Bible study group?


BSF (Bible Study Fellowship)

While I totally support the idea of delving deeply into the Scriptures with other women, there are a few of aspects of BSF that concern me… 


Should My Church Participate in Operation Christmas Child’s Shoebox Ministry?

Should my church participate in Operation Christmas Child? What are some other good international ministries my church could participate in instead?


Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 1

Jennifer Kennedy Dean, Lisa Harper, Karen Kingsbury, Rebekah Lyons, Raechel Myers, Shauna Niequist, Jennifer Rothschild, Susie Shellenberger, Sheila Walsh, Amanda Bible Williams

(After today, I’ll be retiring this article. Thanks to Project Breakdown, I have completed updated, individual articles on each of these teachers which you may access at the Popular False Teachers and Unbiblical Trends tab at the top of this page, or by entering the teacher’s name in the search bar.)


Should Christians listen to “Reckless Love”?

Remember, everything we do should be governed by Scripture, not our opinions and preferences, or whether we happen to like a particular song or not…


Questions about the Open Letter to Beth Moore

Since the publication of the Open Letter to Beth Moore, several questions have arisen that I’d like to address…


Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 3

Jill Briscoe, Lauren Chandler, Tony Evans, Rachel Hollis, Chrystal Evans Hurst, Brenda Leavenworth, Leslie Ludy, Bianca Olthoff, Wellspring Group, Jen Wilkin


Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 2

Jennie Allen, Lisa Bevere, Rachel Held Evans, Heather Lindsey, Ann Graham Lotz, Kelly Minter, Nancy Leigh (DeMoss) Wolgemuth

(Project Breakdown begins on this list next!)


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.

Mailbag, Top 10

Top 10 Mailbag Articles of 2018

I always enjoy the annual “year in review” articles and TV shows that run in abundance in late December, so I thought I’d contribute my own. Several Mailbag articles were among this year’s most popular, so I decided to make two separate lists. Check out my top 10 non-Mailbag articles of 2018 tomorrow. Here are my ten most popular Mailbag blog articles from 2018:

Potpourri (Calvinism, Baptism, Modesty…)

LT calls Calvinism heresy…my views on baptism…Why isn’t 1 Timothy 2:9 emphasized as much as v. 12?…responding to a rude e-mail…


MLM-ing Essential Oils at Church

I don’t care how much of a go-getter saleswoman you are, there are some lines you just don’t cross. And I can’t believe I’m actually having to explain to grown up, adult people that you don’t go church hopping to make sales and recruit people to work for you…


False Doctrine in Contemporary Christian Music

Are there any CCM groups, artists, or songs I should avoid?
Can you recommend any specific doctrinally sound artists or groups?


What is the New Apostolic Reformation?

Since there’s no official NAR creed or statement of faith, beliefs and practices can vary from church to church, but, loosely speaking, the NAR takes the Word of Faith (prosperity gospel) heresy and kicks it up a notch with outlandish “supernatural” manifestations, blasphemously attributed to the Holy Spirit…


BSF (Bible Study Fellowship)

While I totally support the idea of delving deeply into the Scriptures with other women, there are a few of aspects of BSF that concern me… 


Should Christians listen to “Reckless Love”?

Remember, everything we do should be governed by Scripture, not our opinions and preferences, or whether we happen to like a particular song or not…


Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 1

Jennifer Kennedy Dean, Lisa Harper, Karen Kingsbury, Rebekah Lyons, Raechel Myers, Shauna Niequist, Jennifer Rothschild, Susie Shellenberger, Sheila Walsh, Amanda Bible Williams


Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 3

Jill Briscoe, Lauren Chandler, Tony Evans, Rachel Hollis, Chrystal Evans Hurst, Brenda Leavenworth, Leslie Ludy, Bianca Olthoff, Wellspring Group, Jen Wilkin


Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 2

Jennie Allen, Lisa Bevere, Rachel Held Evans, Heather Lindsey, Ann Graham Lotz, Kelly Minter, Nancy Leigh (DeMoss) Wolgemuth


What did you think of Beth Moore’s “A Letter to My Brothers”?

If I had to sum up this article in one word, it would be “vague.” I have more questions than answers after reading it…What, specifically, is the church supposed to do in response to this nebulous accusation of misogyny?…


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.