Discernment Bible Study

Choose What Is Right: A Study in Discernment- Lesson 6

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

Sheep Follow the Shepherd,
Not Strangers

Read John 9-10:21, 27

Questions to Consider

Throughout this study we will be looking at various passages of Scripture rather than working our way through a book of the Bible verse by verse. Because of that, we will need to be extra vigilant to rightly handle these passages in context. I will always attempt to provide the context you need for understanding these passages correctly, but if you need more clarity please feel free to read as much of the surrounding text as you need to – even the whole book, if necessary – in order to properly understand the passage presented.

1. Read John 9. Note the motifs of darkness and light, blindness and sight, night and day. What do darkness, blindness, and night represent? What do light, sight, and day represent? What is Jesus saying about Himself in v. 5? What is the spiritual truth Jesus is trying to convey in chapter 9 – to His immediate audience, and to us? In what ways does this story mirror a person being saved?

What is the spiritual parallel and significance of 8-9? In what ways do we look different to others after salvation?

Describe all of “the works of God” (3) that were displayed in the blind beggar – was it simply God’s power to heal, or was there more to this situation than that?

2. Review legalism and antinomianism in lesson 3 (link above). Which kind of false doctrine were the Pharisees displaying in chapter 9? Give some specific examples of their legalistic remarks, accusations, beliefs, etc.

Compare the works of God displayed in the blind beggar to the works of “their father, the Devil” displayed in the Pharisees. What fruit do we see from the works of God? From the works of the Devil? What is the culmination of the works of God (30-32, 35-39)? The culmination of the works of the Devil? (39-41)

3. Compare the healed man’s parents’ fearful response to the Pharisees (18-23) with the healed man’s “wild abandon” response to the Pharisees (17, 24-34). What made the difference between those two responses (35-38)? Can a false teacher have power over someone who has truly been set free in Christ? Why or why not?

4. Describe Jesus’ disposition toward the false teachers in chapter 9. Toward the repentant, victim of the false teachers? What example does this set for us regarding our own disposition toward false teachers versus our disposition toward those who are trapped in false religious systems and need the gospel?

5. Read John 9:35-10:21 without chapter and verse markings. (If you’re using Bible Gateway, just click on the “page options” icon and uncheck “verse numbers”.)

Do you notice the flow from chapter 9 into chapter 10? What does that tell you about the timing and the relationship between the events and remarks in chapter 9 and Jesus’ teaching in chapter 10? (Hint: See 10:21b). How do the events of chapter 9 lay the foundation for the teaching of chapter 10?

6. Carefully study 10:1-21. What type of literary device is Jesus using to illustrate His point in chapter 10? Is Jesus using literal or figurative language in this passage?

Identify who or what each of the following represent (hint: there’s some overlap):

  • The thief/robber (1,8,10)
  • The shepherd (2)
  • The gatekeeper (3)
  • The sheep (3ff.)
  • The stranger (5)
  • The door of the sheep (7,9)
  • The good shepherd (11,14)
  • The hired hand (12,13)
  • The wolf (12)
  • The flock (16)

7. False teachers today often use the phrases “The sheep hear his voice” (3), “they know his voice” (4), “they will listen to my voice” (16), and “My sheep hear my voice” (27), from this passage to teach that Christians should hear God talking to them audibly (extra-biblical revelation). Examine all of the references to listening, hearing, and voice in this passage. Is this passage teaching that you should hear God talking to you audibly? Why not? What role does context play in your answer? If this passage is a metaphor, which uses figurative language, why would the “sheep” part of these phrases be figurative but the “voice/hear/listen” parts be literal?

Explain what Jesus means in 3b-5, 8, 16b, 27 when He says that His sheep listen to His voice and follow Him, and that they will not follow the voice of strangers. What does “knowing” Jesus and His voice (4-5, 14b) have to do with this? Think back over the message of chapter 9. How does having one’s “eyes opened” connect to this?

If genuinely regenerated Christians (Jesus’ sheep), generally speaking, do not follow false teachers (thieves, robbers, strangers), what can we reasonably conclude about people who claim to be Christians, yet whose lives are marked by a consistent trajectory of following false teachers and listening to the voice of false doctrine over a long period of time? Are these people likely to listen to and understand your voice and the voice of Scripture as you point out what is unbiblical about their favorite false teachers? (6) Why not? Thinking back over the message of chapters 9 and 10, what do they need first in order to “see the light”?

Is it possible for a genuine sheep (Christian) to wander a few steps away from the Shepherd toward a false teacher (i.e. temporarily show an interest in a false teacher or false doctrine)? What does a Good Shepherd do when a sheep wanders?

8. Explain why it is crucial for the local church to have a gatekeeper (3) who only opens the door to sound doctrine and the true Jesus of Scripture, and who chases off the thieves, robbers, and strangers (1,5) who sneak in (1)? Compare your answer to Titus 1:9-16.

9. In lesson 5 (link above) we touched on the idea of whether or not a false teacher (someone who consistently and unrepentantly teaches demonstrably false doctrine, not a doctrinally sound teacher who occasionally makes a mistake) could actually be a genuinely regenerated Christian. Notice the way this passage describes false teachers, their goals, and their effects. What inferences can you reasonably draw about a false teacher’s salvation?


  • I have heard this scenario from Christian women numerous times and experienced it myself, personally: “I went to a women’s Bible study where they were using a book by __. I sat there and listened, and I just knew something was wrong. I didn’t know my Bible well enough at that time to be able to put my finger on it, but I got out of there, started studying my Bible and researching this teacher, and now I know she’s a false teacher.” Have you ever had an experience like that? How does the concept of sheep listening only to the Shepherd and not to strangers apply to this scenario?

Suggested Memory Verse

Discernment, Mailbag

The Mailbag: Should I attend the “Bible” study to correct false doctrine?

Originally published August 21, 2017

I’ve been invited to join a ladies’ Bible study class that’s using a book by a well-known author and speaker. The woman who wrote the book is a false teacher. Should I accept the invitation and join the class in hopes of correcting the false doctrine that will be taught?

To join or not to join. I’ve been in the same situation myself, and I know many of my readers have as well. It can be a difficult decision to make. The Bible does say to avoid false teachers, but it also says they should be rebuked, and that older women are to “teach what is good, and so train the young women…that the word of God may not be reviled.”

My counsel to those who have expressed concern to me over studies by Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Lysa TerKeurst, etc. taking place in their churches is to pray that God would give them wisdom as to whether they should attend the study and biblically refute all the false doctrine that comes up (the rebuking/training perspective) or whether they should decline to attend the study (the avoiding perspective), giving anyone who asks a biblical explanation as to why you won’t be participating (also, kind of rebuking/training). There are a lot of things to take into consideration as you begin working through Scripture and prayer to reach a decision.

First, where is your pastor in all of this? Why is he allowing a study to take place that uses materials authored by a false teacher? Maybe he is familiar with the author’s materials and approves of them (in which case you have a bigger issue than whether or not to attend this particular class). But maybe he’s a discerning-leaning guy who’s just not aware that this author teaches false doctrine.

Most pastors are extremely busy. They either don’t have the time or don’t know they need to make the time to vet the authors of the studies their church is using (I’m not excusing this state of affairs, I’m just saying- this is the reality we’re dealing with). And many of them simply assume that if the book comes from LifeWay (or another trusted Christian retailer), it must be OK. So, before making a decision about whether or not to attend the class, go to where the buck stops and humbly, patiently, and kindly find out where your pastor is about the issue. He might just pleasantly surprise you and cancel the class or insist that a doctrinally sound study be used instead, and your problem will be solved.

Next, if you’re married, what does your husband have to say about it? There may be a logistical conflict – he prefers you not to be out that late at night alone for safety reasons, your child has to be picked up from soccer at the time the class meets, etc. – that will immediately solve your dilemma, or there may be some other reason he doesn’t want you to attend the class. Since it’s not sinful to decline attending the class, if your husband says no, you need to respect his decision and decline to join. (You also need to discuss with your husband the issue of approaching the pastor about the study. He might prefer to be the one to talk to him, or he might prefer the two of you talk to the pastor together, rather than you approaching the pastor on your own.)

But even if your husband leaves the decision up to you, ask for his counsel and perspective. Simply by virtue of being a man, a person with his own unique thought processes, and someone who knows you well, he can add invaluable insight that can help you reach a wise decision. This was certainly the case for me when I was faced with this situation. I was leaning toward declining to attend the study, but my husband gave me a whole new perspective and encouraged me to get involved in order to be a corrective influence and godly example to the other ladies. And he was right!

If you’ve talked to your pastor and your husband and the dilemma is still before you, there are several things you need to think, pray, and study through as you’re working toward a decision:

☙Are you biblically knowledgeable enough to recognize and properly refute false doctrine? (It might help to get the perspective of your pastor, your husband, or a mature believer who knows you well and who will be honest with you.)

☙Do you have the extra time to study and make notes ahead of time so you’ll be prepared to refute, with Scripture, during class?

☙Is the study so replete with false doctrine that you’ll have to constantly be speaking up and people will just be annoyed and tune you out?

☙Does your conscience prevent you from financially supporting the false teacher by buying her book for the study?

☙Would it make a bigger impact on this particular group of ladies for you to attend and refute or to decline to attend with explanation? (Consider your influence on them, your reputation for sound doctrine among them, the dynamics of the group, etc.)

☙What will be the repercussions of your actions (whether you decide to attend or decline) on the church at large? How might your family and/or your pastor be affected?

☙Are you spiritually and emotionally prepared for the harsh backlash you will probably receive for refuting? Can you stand firm in the face of that, or will you cave?

☙Are you in the “cage stage” of discernment with a “mow ‘em down!” disposition to match, or do you have the self-control required to follow the instruction of 2 Timothy 2:24-26: to be patient, kind, and not quarrelsome? Do you understand that the goal of discernment is to humbly rescue captives, not to prove how right and knowledgeable you are?

☙Think outside the box. Is there another way to handle this situation besides attending/refuting and declining to attend? What about you (or a spiritually mature woman in your church- someone who is able to teach) offering to teach an alternative class that studies a book of the Bible?

There’s no one size fits all answer to this question. Either of these options (or another) could be biblically wise depending on the people and situations involved. Talk to your husband and your pastor. Examine what God’s Word says about false teachers. Pray for wisdom. Follow your biblically-informed conscience.

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.

Discernment Bible Study

Choose What Is Right: A Study in Discernment- Lesson 5

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4,

False Teachers, God’s View, Our Response

Read These Passages

Questions to Consider

Throughout this study we will be looking at various passages of Scripture rather than working our way through a book of the Bible verse by verse. Because of that, we will need to be extra vigilant to rightly handle these passages in context. I will always attempt to provide the context you need for understanding these passages correctly, but if you need more clarity please feel free to read as much of the surrounding text as you need to – even the whole book, if necessary – in order to properly understand the passage presented.

1. Examine today’s passages and answer these four questions about each (if applicable):

  • How does God describe false teachers in this passage?
  • What is God’s opinion of false teachers in this passage, and what consequences will they face?
  • How does this passage describe the way people respond to and/or should respond to false teachers?
  • What is God’s opinion of people who follow false teachers, and what consequences will they face?

Using your answers to the first two questions, write a character sketch of a typical false teacher.

Using your answers to the last two questions, write out a description of the way God is generally disposed toward those who follow false teachers and how He wants us to regard and respond to false teachers instead.

2. Considering the Isaiah passage alongside 2 Timothy 4:3-4, are people who follow false teachers innocent victims of these teachers? Why or why not, according to these passages? How do these passages describe people’s disposition toward God before they start following false teachers?

3. Examine the 2 Corinthians passage. Who do false teachers disguise themselves as? (13,15) Instead of “apostles,” “workmen,” and “servants,” what words or titles do we generally use for these people today? (Hint: Think of a popular false teacher. What position or title does s/he hold?) How do false teachers characterize their work or “ministry”? (12) Rather than serving Christ, who do false teachers really serve? (15) How does verse 14 connect to Genesis 3:1-5?

4. Compare the light/darkness, and the fruit/unfruitful motifs of the Ephesians passage to verses 17-19 of the Matthew 7 passage.

How does verse 11 of the Ephesians passage refute these ideas held by some professing Christians?

  • “I know Teacher X teaches some things that are false, but I just chew up the meat and spit out the bones.” (11a)
  • “You shouldn’t warn against false teachers, you should just pray for them.” (11b)
  • “I don’t name the names of false teachers in my sermons, I only preach sound doctrine. That’s the way people learn to recognize false teachers. After all, that’s how bank tellers learn the difference between counterfeit and real money, by only familiarizing themselves with real money.” (11b, see also verse 9 of the Titus passage- Consider this: If there were counterfeiters running around your town passing fake money, what do you think the police and news media would do to alert the banks and the public so they could catch these criminals, stop them, and mete out justice to them?)

5. In the Matthew 7 passage- explain in your own words what the sheep and wolves metaphor in verse 15 means. How do the examples in verse 16 relate to the sheep and wolves metaphor in verse 15, and also to the concept of false teachers disguising themselves in the 2 Corinthians passage?

In 17-19, who are the healthy and unhealthy trees? What is the good and bad fruit of these trees? Who is the fruit of a false teacher’s ministry, and how would you characterize them? Who is the fruit of a sound teacher’s ministry, and how would you characterize them?

Think about people you know who loyally and diligently follow false teachers. Are they growing in holiness as the Bible describes it? Forsaking sin more? Growing in spiritual maturity? Increasingly exhibiting fruit of the Spirit? Studying their Bibles (not the teacher’s books and materials, but the Bible) and praying better and more frequently? Increasing in their love for and service at a doctrinally sound church? Becoming more skilled at rightly handling, understanding, and obeying God’s Word in context? These things are the fruit of a teacher’s ministry.

Christians often wonder whether false teachers knowingly teach false doctrine and deceive people, or if they’re so deceived that they actually think they’re genuine Christians teaching biblical truth. Compare 21-23 with the 2 Corinthians passage. What do you think? Could there be some of each?

6. Think back to lesson 3 (link above) and the difference between antinomianism and legalism. In the Matthew 23 passage, is Jesus rebuking the Pharisees for being antinomians or legalists?

If your pastor preached Matthew 23 to or about a specific false teacher or group of false teachers and posted the video of it on social media, what do you think non-Christians would say about him? What do you think most professing Christians would say about him? Some professing Christians think it is mean, hateful, unloving, unkind, even unChristlike to call out a false teacher or even suggest that people shouldn’t follow a certain false teacher, no matter how gently and kindly it is done. Is that true? How do you know, based solely upon Matthew 23?

7. Examine the Titus passage. Who is “he” in verse 9 (see verses 5-8)? What two things does God require of pastors and elders in verse 9? If a pastor only preaches sound doctrine and never rebukes, preaches against, or warns against false doctrine and false teachers, is it fair to say he’s only doing half his job? Why or why not? (Support your answer from rightly handled Scripture, not emotion or personal opinion.)

Consider verse 11 alongside 2 Timothy 3:6-7. What is the impact on the family when women follow false teachers and bring their false doctrine into the home?

Note the word “rebuke” in verses 9 and 13? Why are pastors to rebuke false teachers and those who follow them?

8. Sometimes Christians wonder whether or not false teachers (at least some of them) are truly born again. In today’s passages, carefully examine together 2 Corinthians 11:15, Ephesians 5:6, Matthew 7:15, 19, 21, 23, Matthew 23:15, 33, Titus 1:15-16. What do these verses indicate is the answer to that question? Think about the way Scripture describes and characterizes the life and eternity of Christians. Do these verses about false teachers match Scripture’s description and characterization of Christians?


Read my article Answering the Opposition- Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections. Which of the Scriptures you studied today answer some of these objections? How? Are there other objections to discernment that you’ve heard that are not on the list, but are answered by today’s passages? Which objections would you add to the list, and how would you answer them from today’s passages (and others)?

Suggested Memory Verse

Holidays (Other), Parenting

Beautiful Motherhood: A Mother’s Day Bible Study

As we look ahead to Mother’s Day,
let’s check out what the Bible has to say about mothering.
This is lesson 12 of my topical Bible study:

Imperishable Beauty- A Study of Biblical Womanhood.

Read These Selected Scriptures

Questions to Consider

1. What are some attributes or character traits of a godly mother from Proverbs 31 that we can emulate? In today’s lesson, rather than attributes to emulate, we’ll be focusing on God’s instructions to obey for mothers. We’ll examine how we’re to regard motherhood and our children, how we’re to train our children in godliness, how we’re to discipline our children out of ungodliness, and the example we’re to set for our children. Some of these instructions can also apply to childless women in their relationships with their spiritual children (i.e. younger women or children they disciple) and others. As you read over today’s passages, explain how childless women might apply some of these Scriptures.

2. Examine the first three passages (Psalm 127-Titus 2) together. What do these passages say about how we are to regard motherhood and our children? What should the attitude of our hearts be? In what sense are children a reward? How do we know that Psalm 127:3 does not mean that if you act in a way that pleases the Lord He will reward your good behavior with children? What does this verse mean? Is loving your children (Titus 2:4) simply a feeling of affection toward them? If so, why would young women need to be trained to love their children? When you finish today’s lesson, come back to Titus 2:4 and give a fully-orbed biblical definition of what it means to love your children.

3. Examine the next five passages (Proverbs 22-Ephesians 6) together. Why does God want us to train our children in godliness? Explain the phrase “in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). How does the gospel figure in to training your child? Look carefully at the three Old Testament passages. At what age should we begin training our children in godliness and the Scriptures and how long should this training continue? Is Proverbs 22:6 an iron-clad guarantee or promise from God that if we raise our children in a godly home they will definitely get saved and turn out to be godly adults? Why not? (Scroll down to the Deuteronomy 21 passage if you need help.)

To whom are the Colossians and Ephesians verses addressed? Does this mean they don’t apply to mothers or that it’s OK for mothers to provoke their children, but not fathers? If they apply to both parents, why are they addressed to fathers? How are we not to deal with our children according to these verses? What does it mean to provoke your children? Why are we not to provoke them (Colossians), and how are we to deal with them instead (Ephesians)? Compare Ephesians 6:4b to the Old Testament verses in this section. How are they similar?

3. Examine the next three passages (Proverbs 29-Deuteronomy 21) together. What is the purpose of godly discipline? What are the biblical definitions of the words “discipline” and “reproof”? Are discipline, reproof, and training the same as punishment? Why or why not? What are some of the consequences of disciplining your child? The consequences of refusing to discipline your child? According to Proverbs 13:24, what motivates someone to discipline her child? What motivates someone to refuse to discipline her child? Are “love” and “hate” simply emotional feelings in this verse or an attitude, posture, or orientation of mindset toward the child? Look closely at Deuteronomy 21:20. Is this passage most likely talking about a very young child or an older child/teenager? According to the Deuteronomy 21 passage, does godly discipline always result in an obedient son or daughter, or can there be exceptions to the rule?

Why is it important to both train your child in godly ways and discipline him out of ungodly ways? Explain how this fits into the “put off the ungodly, put on the godlymodel of biblical sanctification.

4. Examine the last five passages (Deuteronomy 21-Matthew 10) together. What do these passages teach us about the godly example we need to set for our children?

Sometimes we see implicit instructions to parents in passages that explicitly teach children how to treat and regard their parents. For example, if there were a verse that said, “Children, love your parents,” we could learn from that verse that we need to act in a way (lovable) that makes it easier for our children to obey that Scripture. Considering this concept, look at the Exodus 20 and Proverbs 1 passages. If your children are to honor you, in what manner should you behave? What should your teaching be like if your children are not to forsake it and to consider it a “graceful garland” and a “pendant”?

What is the context of Ezekiel 16? To whom is the parent/child metaphor in this  passage addressed? Explain the phrase “like mother, like daughter”. Why is it important to set a good example for our children with our own behavior, and why was this a good metaphor for God to use in addressing Israel’s unfaithfulness to Him?

Examine the Deuteronomy 21 and Matthew 10 passages together. What is to be a mother’s highest priority – her relationship with her child, even the life of her child, or her love for, obedience to, and loyalty to Christ? Do you love Christ more than your child? If you had to choose between your child and Christ, who would you choose? What message does it send to our children when we show and tell them that we love Christ more than we love them? How can you demonstrate to your child that your highest love and loyalty is reserved for Christ?


Examine each of the instructions in Deuteronomy 6:6-9. Make a list of practical ways your family could put each of these instructions into practice and discuss it with your husband. Together, pick one of these practices and implement it with your children this week.

Suggested Memory Verse

Discernment Bible Study

Choose What Is Right: A Study in Discernment- Lesson 4

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3,

False Teachers, God’s View, Our Response

Read Jude, 2 Peter 2

Questions to Consider

Throughout this study we will be looking at various passages of Scripture rather than working our way through a book of the Bible verse by verse. Because of that, we will need to be extra vigilant to rightly handle these passages in context. I will always attempt to provide the context you need for understanding these passages correctly, but if you need more clarity please feel free to read as much of the surrounding text as you need to – even the whole book, if necessary – in order to properly understand the passage presented.

1. Do you notice the similarities between 2 Peter 2 and Jude? Click here and read the second paragraph under “Author and Date”. What might be the reason for some of the similarities?

Make a two column chart. Examine Jude and 2 Peter 2 side by side, verse by verse. (You may want to do this with two Bibles, two devices, or a split screen on your Bible app or device.) List the verses or phrases that are strikingly similar in wording and concept. What does each mean? Why might God have emphasized a particular verse or phrase by placing it in Scripture twice?

2. To what general group of people are Jude’s (v.1) and Peter’s (1:1) letters addressed? What is Jude’s (3) appeal to the church? Why is he urging them to contend for the faith (Jude 4, 2 Peter 2:1-3)? What are some of the things that happen to a church when false teachers gain a foothold?

Do these epistles apply to you as a Christian, and to the church, today? Why? Have you (or your church) ever been urged by a pastor or teacher to contend for the faith? Why do you think that admonition is so lacking in the church and from Christian teachers today?

2. How does Jude (4a) describe false teachers entering the church? How does Peter (1) say false teachers will bring in destructive heresies? Compare this characterization to the way these passages say false teachers infiltrate the church and the home. What does this characteristic of sneakiness tell you about false teachers? Why aren’t they just open and honest with Christians and the church about what they want to teach?

3. What do Jude (4, 13) and Peter (3, 17) say is the final destiny of false teachers?

Examine 2 Peter 2:4-10. Who are the godly people mentioned in this passage and how did God deal with them? Who are the ungodly who are listed, and how did God deal with each of them? Do these ungodly people include false teachers (10, Jude 8)?

What does this tell you about how God views false teachers? How He views and protects His faithful children?

4. What are Jude (8-9) and Peter (10b-11) telling us about angels, blasphemy and the glorious ones? How does this reflect the pride and arrogance of false teachers?

What are Jude (10) and Peter (12) telling us about the ignorance of false teachers? Think about how the indwelling Holy Spirit illumines Scripture to the Christian. What might be one reason false teachers do not understand Scripture or how to properly handle it?

What is the significance of Jude’s (11) comparison of false teachers to Cain? Of Jude’s (11) and Peter’s (15-16) comparison to Balaam?

Consider the imagery in Jude’s (12-13) and Peter’s (17) comparative metaphors to false teachers. What are the characteristics of each metaphor mentioned, and how do they apply to false teachers?

5. In your own words, write a brief summary of the character of false teachers according to Peter and Jude. Do you know of any pastors or teachers who could be described this way? Who, and why?

6. What does Jude (17-23) say about how we should respond to the types of teachers he and Peter are describing?


If you’d like a little extra study on these passages, check out:

Wednesday’s Word ~ Jude

Living Stones: A Study of 1 & 2 Peter ~ Lesson 11

Suggested Memory Verse