Discernment Ministry Does More Than Expose False Teachers

Biblical UnityOur Monday Bible Studies in Titus may be suspended for the summer, but I’m still thinking quite a lot about Paul’s charge to Titus regarding the responsibilities of older women.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. ~~Titus 2:3-5 (ESV)

As a blogger, I am in an unofficial teaching position, hopefully teaching younger women how to honor the Lord. Thus far, I’ve written little about marriage and even less about raising children, mostly because I married late in life and consequently missed out on motherhood. But I certainly can teach what is good in terms of Christian doctrine and discernment.

Without rehashing specifics, recent arguments among well-known figures in discernment ministry cause me to wonder if I should focus my teaching more on discerning how to exhibit a character that reflects the Lord Jesus Christ and less on calling out false teachers. To be sure, those false teachers need to be identified, especially because women tend to gravitate to ones that use humor, psychology and emotional mysticism to lure us into doctrinal error. But, as I’ve said many times, blogs like mine can easily degenerate into tabloid gossip mills.

Blogging as a Christian places me under an obligation to keep my doctrine pure. An elder from my church monitors The Outspoken TULIP for that very reason, as does my husband. But right doctrine is only half the battle, dear sisters in Christ. Remember that the Pharisees in Jesus’ day had right doctrine. But they used their right doctrine to cover up their sinful lifestyles.

If, in exposing false teachers, I use this blog to generate gossip, I stand guilty of dishonoring the Lord I claim to represent. On one level, I teach younger women to cultivate discernment regarding popular teachers and trends within the evangelical community (which is sometimes necessary), but on a deeper level I teach by example that discernment depends on gossiping about others.

Recent events in the evangelical world have caused me to consider the type of character I want to model as I emblazon words on the internet. Do I demonstrate godly attitudes even when I warn my readers against false teachers? Do I encourage my readers to pray for people who fall victim to doctrinal error, and do I point them back to the Word of God? Or do I act like a talebearer who enjoys the sport of character assassination?

Older women, Paul says, must teach what is good. Teaching what is good, in turn, necessitates living in conformity to sound doctrine. The current nastiness in the name of discernment, by God’s grace, admonishes me to be careful as I write my blog posts, knowing that the example I set can either encourage sinful attitudes or lead ladies to honor the Lord.

 

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Summer Wardrobes And Stumbling Brothers

Young Couple 02At the outset, let me say that a man bears complete responsibility for lustful thoughts and actions, regardless of how a woman dresses. As you read this blog post, please don’t mischaracterize me as excusing rape, sexual harassment or even lustful fantasies. Men must, in all circumstances, remain pure in their interactions with women, even when a woman dresses provocatively.

Have I made myself clear? If not, close this article right now, and maybe read Scriptures on the importance of sexual purity for both men and women. But if you understand that I by no means condone rape, sexual harassment or lustful fantasies in men, please keep reading. And remember, this blog is directed specifically at women, making it unnecessary (and kind of ridiculous) for me to address men on how to deal with scantily clad women during the summer months.

But ladies, I certainly can talk to you about our responsibility toward our brothers in Christ. The fact that the Lord holds them responsible to control their responses when they see too much skin or silhouette doesn’t negate our responsibility to dress modestly and carry ourselves in a manner that doesn’t call undue attention to our sexuality. Our brothers in Christ deserve the same respect from us that we want from them.

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. ~~Romans 14:13 (ESV)

God created men to respond to visual stimuli, just as He created us to respond to emotional attention. When I was single, I was constantly falling for guys who, out of  compassion for my disability, treated me tenderly. They didn’t intend to communicate romantic interest, but they almost always set my heart fluttering.

I failed to control my fantasies when those brothers gave me emotional attention. I had the responsibility to guard my heart, and I very well knew that I shouldn’t have read things into their actions that they never intended to convey. But they needed a man to teach them how women are wired. They needed to understand that their behavior (although well-meaning) led me into sin.

Similarly, we need to understand that God created men to respond to visual images. Within marriage, they quite appropriately respond when they admire the bodies of their wives. God designed them that way.

But precisely because God designed them to respond to visual stimuli, women bear a responsibility to dress in ways that discourage men (other than their husbands) from looking at us in inappropriate ways. Certainly, I get that some men will look no matter how modestly we dress, and they will have to answer to the Lord for doing so. That said, that same Lord holds us accountable if we deliberately dress for the purpose of attracting attention to our bodies.

I’m not suggesting that we dress like frumps. Rather, I want to remind you to be careful, during these hot summer months, not to expose our body parts in ways that could cause our brothers to stumble. Our wish to stay cool, while important, mustn’t supplant their need to remain pure.

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Saturday Sampler: May 28 — June 3

48a60-fourjoyfulladies“God never gives us more than we can handle” is a cliche that drives me up the wall! Mark McIntyre, in his blog, Attempts at Honesty explains why this popular saying contradicts Scripture by writing More than I can handle. He makes precisely the same points that I would.

Elizabeth Prata will never know how providential her essay Does God speak to us? Should I expect Him to? in her The End Time blog was for me! Charismatics just love arguing with me on Facebook!

If summer activities threaten your time in the Word of God, go to Knowable Word and read Ryan Higginbottom’s suggestions for reading and studying Scripture in The Summer of the Bible. He includes a plethora of links to other Knowable Word articles that can jump start your time in the Bible.

I love the fact that women now openly admit to enjoying sports. And I love how Terri Stovall, guest posting for Biblical Woman, uses stats of athletes as the lead-in to her blog post, How to Live Life Without an (*). Even if you’re not a sports enthusiast, you’ll learn some helpful spiritual principles.

What Is Inductive Bible Study? asks Kim Shay of Out of the Ordinary. Her article is only a brief overview of the method, but it can introduce you to the concept.

If you’d like to read a thought provoking piece on evangelism, Mike Leake’s post in Borrowed Light should give you an interesting challenge. What If Unbelievers Aren’t Miserable? questions popular assumptions about when we should proclaim the Gospel to those around us.

Michelle Lesley doesn’t pull any punches in her article, 8 Unbiblical Notions Christian Women Need to Be Set Free From. She touches on a wide range of topics, providing links to more in-depth posts she’s written on each one. This post serves as a helpful refresher on basic areas where women must use discernment.

Here’s an interesting news item from Tom, the author of excatholic4christ. He writes Catholics, Charismatics, and Pentecostals unite in Rome for week-long celebration. Too bad I’m busy that week. NOT!

In her post, What’s Wrong with Women’s Bible Studies, Cindy Koch of 1517 The Legacy Project points out the main reason such groups fail to provide the spiritual nourishment that ladies need. Sadly, she’s spot-on.

Oh yes! Jared C. Wilson, writing for The Gospel Coalition Blog, bats 1000 with Division Begins With the Departure from the Truth. Before you accuse someone of being divisive, you might want to read this piece.

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Summer White Isn’t Alone

Recently John and I watched a YouTube video by Pastor Jeff Short of Christian Answers, in which he very rightly commended Summer White of Sheologians for calling out Jen Hatmaker for supporting LBGTQ causes. If you want to watch the video before reading my comments, here it is:

I heartily agree with Pastor Short that women should be rebuking false teaching and warning other women against people like Ms. Hatmaker who distort Scripture. Women must speak out when popular “Christian” celebrities make statements that violate the truth, precisely because these celebrities have such a high degree of influence over evangelical women. When someone like Jen Hatmaker condones same sex marriage, calling it holy, discerning Christian women have an obligation to cry “Wolf!”

But Jeff Short is terribly mistaken in asserting that Summer White is the only woman brave enough to speak out against false teachers! Maybe I should be thankful that he’s not reading women’s blogs (it’s hard convincing men that my blog is exclusively for women), but it troubles me that he strongly implied that none of us has confronted false teachers.

Ironically, several women known as discernment bloggers have, in the past few years, felt convicted that we were calling false teachers out too much when we should have been discipling women so that they could recognize false teaching for themselves. Our blog posts on Beth Moore guaranteed us more hits, certainly, but we noticed our blogs becoming more like tabloid journalism than vehicles to disciple women. If anything, we spent more time than necessary telling our readers who the wolves are than drawing their attention to the Lord Jesus Christ.

But yes, we have denounced Jen Hatmaker. I have featured several blog posts about her acquiescence to the LBGTQ community in my Saturday Samplers. Most of these articles were written by women (including Summer White).

Pastor Short, we most assuredly have been on the front lines for years, pleading with false teachers to repent and warning our sisters about a wide number of “Christian” celebrities who lead women into doctrinal error. Summer White has merely joined our ranks, and we welcome her! But we’ve been here, and we definitely have the battle scars to prove that we’ve spoken just as courageously as Summer White has. We don’t want medals, but we do want people to know we’re here.

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Perspectives In Titus: What Should Older Women Teach Younger Women?

Titus 2 v 5

Even though we talked about Titus 2:5 in last week’s study of verses 3-5, I wanted to return to this verse and examine it in a little more detail. I’m doing so because this blog, as stated prominently in my mission statement on the sidebar, is exclusively for women. As such, it lends itself to a thorough discussion of the Bible’s instructions specifically to women.

Today I’ll quote only the immediate verses, hoping that you’ll look at your own Bibles to remind yourselves of the context.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.~~Titus 2:3-5 (ESV)

Before we get to verse 5, let’s make a few brief comments about verses 3 and 4. In verse 3, Paul says that older women are to teach what is good.  Notice the parallel to his charge to Titus in verse 1. Teaching “what is good” would naturally mean teaching what accords with sound doctrine.

This verse does  not give women permission to use their teaching abilities indiscriminately. Please note this vitally important point. God’s Word limits us to teaching other women  (1 Corinthians 14:34, 1 Timothy 2:11-12). Yet older women can powerfully influence younger women towards holiness.

Moving to verse 4, we see that Paul gives older women the responsibility of counseling younger women in their relationships with their husbands and children. Especially regarding marriage, this sort of counseling can touch on some pretty personal issues. Therefore, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown make the excellent point that Paul shows wisdom in having women teach each other rather than having men directly teach younger women.

Obviously, men addressing marriage, as well as some of the intimate subject matters listed in verse 5 has potential for creating emotional entanglements. Looking at it from this perspective, we see that men also have restrictions concerning whom they teach.

Now let’s delve into verse 5, which is the heart of the passage. First off, we older women are to teach younger women to be self-controlled, or temperate. You’ll recall from Chapter 1 that the people of Crete were known for their volatile tempers and self-indulgence, making it important for Christians to display a moderate temperament. This instruction goes back to verse 2, where Paul  insists that older men exercise self-control in contrast to the self-indulgent lifestyle of the Cretans.

Following that injunction, older women should teach younger women to be pure. This purity, first and foremost, refers to sexual purity. (On this point in particular, a pastor needs this older women to teach the younger ones.) Faithfulness to one’s own husband, particularly in a culture that celebrates sexual “freedom,” isn’t easy. Young women need encouragement toward such purity.

But we also must train younger women in doctrinal purity. 2 Timothy 3:6 reveals that false teachers can easily captivate the attention of women who don’t strengthen their wills with sound doctrine. This clause points to the importance of women teaching other women Biblical discernment and doctrine.

Workers at home comes from a Greek phrase meaning “guardians of the house.” This clause doesn’t necessarily prohibit outside employment  (which is often helpful to a family), but it clarifies that a woman’s foremost responsibility is to the home.

Furthermore, we must teach younger women to be kind, particularly to their husbands and children. Kindness pulls us away  from ourselves, training us to look to the needs, interests and feelings of those around us.  Again, remember that the First Century Cretan culture (much like 21st Century culture) revolved around self-centered behavior, which disregards the needs and feelings of others.

Finally, we older women should teach younger women to submit to their own husbands, as commanded in Ephesians 5:22, Ephesians 5:24 and Colossians 3:18. The Greek word for “submit” carries the idea of voluntarily placing oneself under the authority of another. Thus, Christian wives recognize that God gives husbands the authority to lead a family.

Please notice that the text directs women to submit to their own husbands, not to men in general. This point shouldn’t have to be made. Sadly, I’ve been in circles where the men expected submission from all the women. Ladies, don’t fall for that distortion of Scripture. Submit exclusively to your husbands, not the husbands of your friends.

Paul explains that we need to teach younger women these principles  in order that non-Christians can’t disregard God’s Word on account of our hypocrisy. Cross-reference to Romans 2:24, where Paul quotes an Old Testament accusation that Gentiles blasphemed God’s name because of Jews who lived in disobedience. As we’ll learn over the next few weeks, all segments of the church should comport themselves in ways consistent with the Gospel. Including women.

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Perspectives In Titus: What’s A Woman To Do?

Titus 2 3 thru 5

I’m so excited to finally teach Titus 2:3-5, the passage that originally inspired me to write this Bible Study series. Today I will take you through the entire three verses, and then next Monday I plan to go over verse 5 in greater detail.

Let me quote these three verses with just enough context to remind you that Paul wanted Titus to provide different groups within the churches in Crete with specific, yet overlapping, directions in how to behave.

Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. ~~Titus 2:2-6 (ESV)

Verse 2, as we saw last week, gave older men the responsibility of setting a godly standard of behavior for everyone else in the church. Next he addressed the demographic that I belong to: women over the age of 60.

Older women, we see in verse 3, are expected to live up to the same standards as older men, especially in being reverent in our behavior. The King James Version renders this word as “becoming holiness.” The Complete Word Study Dictionary applies it to this verse as “meaning to act like a sacred person.”

The verse goes on to name two examples of reverent behavior. Firstly, we must not falsely accuse anyone. I didn’t consult commentaries to find out possible reasons that Paul might have admonished us, as older women, against slander, but obviously making false accusations hardly reflects a reverent spirit.

Secondly, we must not be drunkards. You’ll recall that Paul required that elders not be drunkards  (Titus 1:7-8), and that he insisted on self-control in older men. Although all Christians should avoid drunkenness, Paul particularly emphasized this point in reference to Crete because of its reputation for an undisciplined lifestyle.

In contrast to the wildness of their surrounding culture, older women are commanded to teach what accords with the Gospel. When we get to verse 4 momentarily, we’ll notice that we are to teach other women, not to teach the general congregation (1 Timothy 2:12). Rather than go into a lengthy explanation of Paul’s reasons for prohibiting women from teaching men right now, I’ll refer you to the Women’s Ministry link in the Categories section on the sidebar of this blog, where you can find several articles on the topic.

Verse 4 doesn’t lend itself to much exposition. All it does is summarize who older women should teach, and what we should teach them. Specifically, older women should teach younger women to love their husbands and   children. This training aims at practical living.

Thankfully, verse 5 expands on the principles of loving one’s husband and children. It begins by saying that older  women should teach younger women the art of self-control. We teach this art by example, though our example should be accompanied by explanation and instruction.

Similar to self-control, we must teach purity. This purity can refer to sexual purity, which should be a given. It might also extend to purity in the Christian faith,  or doctrinal purity. If indeed it does extend to doctrinal purity (as I believe it does), the work of women’s discipleship falls under that umbrella.

The instruction that younger women be workers at home doesn’t prohibit them from outside employment. Lydia, for instance, worked as a seller of purple goods (Acts 16:14) and Priscilla shared her husband’s trade as a tentmaker (Acts 18:2-3). Paul’s point here focuses on women tending to their responsibilities at home rather than being idle busybodies. Please look at 1 Timothy 5:12 to clarify Paul’s meaning.

Older women must also  teach younger women to be kind. In a self-indulgent environment like Crete, people often used anger to accomplish their goals. Kindness, therefore, would stand out as a different way of life.

Lastly, older women should teach our younger counterparts to submit to their own husbands. That’s never a very popular idea, and it definitely needs to be carefully and consistently taught. Yet submission in family structure, as Paul demonstrated in Ephesians 5:22-33, models how the church relates to Jesus Christ. It serves as a testimony to a rebellious culture.

In summary, Paul wanted older women to teach each of these things for one overarching reason. He didn’t want women to live in ways that discredit God’s Word. All the behaviors he listed in this section align with sound doctrine, and a refusal to employ them indicates that we don’t take Christ seriously. Consequently, unbelievers will understandably dismiss us as hypocrites and conclude that they also have no reason to consider the authority of Scripture. Ladies, our behavior means something.

 

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Saturday Sampler: April 30 — May 6

Sping LaceI’ve been angry at God. I admit that terrible fact with shame, grateful that He has forgiven my arrogance toward Him. So I wholeheartedly agree with Denny Burk’s blog post, It’s never right to be angry at God. Ever. His Biblical approach to this issue leads to practical counsel on dealing with suffering.

Rachel Miller, who authors Daughter of the Reformation, writes Policing the Blogosphere? We’ve Been Here Before as an intriguing response to the idea that women bloggers need more church oversight. I’m still weighing her assertions, but I found her parallels to the Reformation absolutely fascinating! Invest some time in this essay; you won’t regret it.

In her hard-hitting essay, “Sorry I Never Knew You” – Should we sing about God’s judgments?, Elizabeth Prata of The End Time challenges the prevailing reticence to preach and sing about eschatology. She includes the song, “Sorry I Never Knew You” by The Sego Brothers & Naomi. Even if Southern Gospel Music isn’t ordinarily your preference, please listen to this important song and consider the points Elizabeth makes.

Writing for The Cripplegate, Eric Davis enumerates Reasons to Avoid Churches Who Will Not Practice Church Discipline. He raises issues I’d never consciously considered, but that make perfect sense.  His article again assures me that I’m in a healthy, Biblical church with leadership that shepherds me well.

Like most Christians, I fight the temptation to take credit for my salvation. Tim Challies provides a wonderful antidote to that temptation. If Only I Had Been Saved By Merit! demonstrates how our corrupt natures would pervert God’s grace if we actually had a hand  in saving ourselves. I think I’m glad the Lord did all the work!

It’s fashionable to speak about social media with a hint of disdain in your voice. But Michelle Lesley, in 9 Ways Social Media Is a Blessing to Believers, reminds us that the Lord uses the Internet to do some pretty amazing things. Of course, I may be a tad biased regarding this topic — I met my husband online!

 

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