False Teaching In Popular Women's Ministries
You’re at the beach, swimming in the ocean with some of your friends, having the time of your life! Your swimsuit fits just right, the seagulls haven’t come for your snacks just yet and the water feels the perfect temperature as you enjoy God’s natural tanning bed. Nothing could disrupt your community with your girls except a jelly fish sting or a shark siting.
But hey, sharks NEVER show up at the beach. Right? I mean, everyone knows that sharks live in the ocean, buttttt we don’t always worry about them unless they’re near. After all, being on guard is the lifeguard’s job, not ours…right?
Ultimately, everyone knows that there are sharks and other danger imposing creatures in the water. But, we’re usually not on guard for them until we are aware that they’re in close proximity.
So what happens when we see many surrounding our community at the beach, yet we don’t speak up? People get bitten, some limbs get lost in destructive heresies and rehabilitation can take quite a while to recover from.
Warning others of dangerous, life-threatening, possible shark incidents doesn’t deem one as unfairly critical or unrighteously judgmental. When it comes to The Body, any limb or part possibly falling subject to the vicious attack or bite of a shark, all “sweet” feelings and elementary school warnings are thrown out the window. We are to make ourselves and others aware of the impending danger that lies ahead. And to not do so is not only uncivil and inflicts harm upon a fellow Believer, but is in direct opposition to Biblical expectations expressed clearly in Scripture.
Meteorologists will name a hurricane and categorize it in a heartbeat, yet some people expect us to stay silent about their favorite false teacher because it’s divisive? Interesting.
There are many popular (and unpopular) Christian women’s ministries that glory unrepentantly in false, unbiblical teaching. Many of their books are best sellers, are adorned in Christian bookstores, have many likes on social media, thousands of followers, tons of subscribers, yet lack the Biblical mark of a sound teacher.
We’ve probably purchased their Bibles, got them to sign our copies of their books and may have even met them. But, no matter how convincing, “convicting” or confident their messages may be, it still does not excuse them from their duty as a said Believer, to remain teachable, submit to God and teach His Word accurately in context.
I am going to highlight and discuss ways to stay on guard from false teaching, share how we are to govern ourselves when we discover false doctrine and what we should do when someone in error, repents.
REMEMBER, YOU'RE IN THE OCEAN
Often we forget that we are not above deception or falling victim to false teaching, especially when dealing with women’s ministries.
We don’t always separate our emotions from the reality of what’s going on around us. This can damage our perception and even acknowledgement of sharks even being in the water because they look and sound like dolphins.
While false teachers are not gender specific, there often can be a certain demographic of them that we flock to based off of things like: social media status, emotionally stimulating messages, fashion sense, recommendations + popularity, what we deem as “conviction” and out of context Scripture interpretation that caters to our areas of weakness and lack of knowledge.
2nd Peter 2:1-22 shows us that there will be sharks in the water. There is no “might” or “maybe”, they WILL be there and this is what they will do:
· Teach falsely
· Secretly bring in destructive heresies
· Lead others astray in their falsehood
· Blaspheme the way of truth
· Exploit you and others
Romans 16:17-18 informs us that the cause of division and creation of obstacles will be due to doctrine that is contrary to what has been taught (i.e The Word of God ). Smooth talk and flattery will be devices used to deceive the naïve.
Paul admonishes to “watch out” for those type of people not because they’re undetectable, but because they are detectable and are visible when held up in comparison to Scripture. Paul also admonishes to “avoid them.” This means to “turn away” from such people. The Greek for this phrase is ekklinō which literally means to “turn one’s self away from; keep aloof from one’s society; to shun.”
It is vital to remember that we are in the ocean. There will be sharks, jellyfish and other dangerous sea life. We must remain vigilant and sensitive to the Word of God.
BAD FRUIT IS STILL FRUIT
A common error in our identification of false teaching or simply bad doctrine is that because fruit is present, that means that it’s indicative of godliness and accuracy. We begin to form this calloused posture towards the bad fruit because it seems to be producing. We must realize that just because a ministry, teacher, musician or whatever else bears fruit, doesn’t mean that it is Biblically good fruit.
Let’s take a look at Matthew 7:15-20’s exposition of false teachers:
We learn in verse 15 to beware — Greek for “prosechō” meaning “take heed of, guard against”. We wouldn’t have to beware of something that isn’t there.
A description of how they will present themselves is even given. They will come adorned in “sheep’s clothing.” This means that their appearance will reflect that of a true follower of Christ.
“…but are inwardly ravenous wolves” — Again, we see here that despite an outward adornment that appears to be set apart, the inward appearance is dangerously twisted.
Now, Paul goes on to say that “you will recognize them by their fruits.” This is so important to identifying false teaching/teachers! Why? Because the fruit of their rebellion, unteachableness, unrepentant heart, false doctrine, corrupt disposition in relation to God’s people, and violation in being unsubmitted to His Word, will be visible and recognizable. Paul shows us here!
In verse 17, Paul goes onto say that every (not some) healthy tree bears good fruit. But the diseased tree—Greek “sapros” meaning “rotten, putrid; hence, bad, of a bad quality”—cannot bear good fruit. While diseased (unhealthy) trees are able to bear fruit, it still isn’t good. Then, verses 19-20 sum it all up for us as to what will happen to the trees that don’t bear good fruit.
GIVE THE HURRICANE A NAME
Alluding to a point previously made, it’s rather interesting that by naming hurricanes—I mean false teachers, it makes one automatically divisive, critical and just a downright meany. Yet, when it comes to the health, freedom and proper direction of The Body, we will save face and our reputations to keep from naming destructive wolves in pulpits and on ministry forefronts.
Ephesians 5:11 tells us to take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but to instead expose them. What’s even more noteworthy is that this verse is included in Paul’s admonition and careful instructions to the church at Ephesus to walk in love. Notice that the preceding verses give immense direction on how to do that. Paul doesn’t separate walking in love from discussing sin, whether amongst the Church or outsiders. We shouldn’t either.
Exposing sin, darkness in or around The Body isn’t for the sake of boasting or glorying in the sin of another, but to warn those who don’t repent of their error, what lies ahead.
If we will name deadly viruses, diseases, organisms, foods, weather systems and the like, it is our duty as adherers to God’s Word to do the same when it comes to the integrity of The Gospel and the health of the Bride of Christ.
A popular teacher and leader once said in his book, “Have I named names? For the most part no, since there is so much immaturity in the Body and we are so prone to division that the moment someone’s name is mentioned, even in the context of a minor correction, that person is instantly demonized by some, as if their whole message is suspect.”
We must avoid this false narrative for it is in direct opposition to Scripture. Immaturity in the Body? Perhaps it’s a result of unsound teaching. What we must realize is that persistent, unrepented of error results in the need for marking, not making an honest mistake. And even in that event, there should be accountability there.
THEIR TESTIMONY IS NOT THE GOSPEL
Often times we will overlook false doctrine because of the heartfelt emotion that arises from many women’s ministry leaders. Their testimonies sound so encouraging and may even inspire us at times. But what we must be careful not to do, is to allow their testimonies to replace The Gospel that they and all of us are responsible for sharing.
If you know your favorite teacher’s testimony better than you have ever heard The Gospel preached or taught from them, it’s time to start asking yourself some real, deal questions. No “ministry” is a “ministry” of God at least, if The Gospel of the Bible isn’t being taught. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, not the result we experience because of it. Testimonies are wonderful, powerful and impactful, but only one has the power to save and that is the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Don’t get caught up in following and supporting ministries because their stories sound good. Measure your involvement by The Word, gauging whether or not The Gospel of Jesus and sound doctrine are being taught.
WATCH OUT FOR THE WHALES
A common misconception is that false doctrine and error are limited and exclusive to pulpits and ministries. Yet even in the ocean, there are other dangers too. And sometimes, they sing.
Let us never forget that sound doctrine is to be applied to lyrics of worship music with the same measure as preaching and teaching. The music may sound nice, the words may sound right, but held up next to Scripture, is it sound? Or does it just sound good? Everything that is available for downloading and streaming, shouldn’t be.
NO SWIMMING ALLOWED
Contrary to popular perpetuated beliefs, wolves and sheep can’t have any type of fellowship together. No matter how “friendly” and nice the wolf may appear to be, the sheep will always be a pursuit of prey.
When we swim amongst false teaching with no regard to what the Bible commands us to do about it, we directly convey that false doctrine is better than a sound, Biblical, representation of Christ. You see, staying out of the murky waters of women’s ministries, churches and “worship nights” that unrepentantly go against Scripture and error with no care about those being affected by it, is for our good and God’s glory alone. It isn’t because we think we’re better than anyone that we avoid such things. But it is because we are above laboring in and supporting people who directly and indirectly defame the name of God.
We are to hold fast to what is good and abstain from any and every form of evil, testing EVERYTHING, even if that means saying goodbye to some of our favorite authors, speakers, pastors, podcasts and conferences. Again, Romans 16:17 warns us to avoid those who cause divisions and create obstacles that are contrary to Biblical doctrine. This doesn’t mean listen to them every now and then, but to mark a dividing line between you and them.
False doctrine has nothing to offer us except a stained view of God, a marred conscience of worship and a hard, yet attainable road of unlearning everything that has tainted our exegesis of God’s Holy Word. Trust me, I’ve been there and am still recovering.
FOR THOSE WHO REPENT...
Although false doctrine can cause a lot of damage, there is no damage that is beyond the graces of sincere confession and repentance.
True Believers that have been in error will be convicted of their great sin against a Holy and just God. And because they will by the power of The Holy Spirit at work in them, they will be humbled. When someone who has errored in doctrine, confesses and repents, we forgive them and move forward. While forgiving error reconciles the clarity of state of their error in our consciences, (Acts 24:16) we must never fail to remain watchful. No, this doesn’t mean hold their sin like a chandelier over their head, but to be ready to point them in love in the right direction, should they wander away from truth again.
Our earnest and honest motive should be to win our Brothers and Sisters over with the truth in love. We see this admonition of instruction clearly painted in Matthew 18:15-20.
As John MacArthur so eloquently writes...
While there will always be differences and disagreements on secondary issues like denominational differences (within reason), the order of service, etc., the primary, close-handed issues cannot be glossed over or compromised. The Word of God is our authority. By it we must test ALL things and abide.
Sisters, I admonish you warmly, to search the Scriptures in context about everything you receive, even from me. No true disciple of Christ will ever be calloused their entire lives to correction or ensuring they represent God’s Word in the fullness of truth. If they remain rebellious, unrepentant and unteachable, avoid them with all your might, expose darkness with pure motives and earnestly contend for the faith.
Just because a popular women’s ministry may look pretty, have friends or get things “right” from time to time, it doesn’t equate them with being sound. A sweet lie always has a little truth mixed in it. Pray for the discernment to know the difference.