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Throw Out the Baby, Spit Out the Bones 

Throw the Water on Sound Doctrine


2 Timothy 4:2-5

2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 

4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.


Our children have often laughed when I've unwittingly managed to mix metaphors. It's one of those trivial details that have not been important enough for me to value or learn. Consequently, I've often fumbled for the right beginning and ending to an often meaningless saying, much to the delight of my family. 

It has been amazing to me over the last several years how many Christians, including Pastors, have these sayings down pat. So much so, that "we don't want to throw out the baby with the bathwater" and " I eat the meat and spit out the bones" have become sound doctrine. Not just secular sayings, but sound doctrine that overrides Scriptural truth. 

In fact I've been rebuked by those sayings, when relaying the facts on a particular issue.  I've asked people who quote these sayings for the Scriptural reference to them, so that I too could claim them as Biblical truth, but none have been forthcoming. Occasionally a misuse of a particular Scripture is cited to validate one saying, but it really doesn't mean what people want it to mean. 

God said that His Word is perfect and from it we would get sound doctrine. 

2 Timothy 3:14 "But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."

It stands to reason then, that we should be able to put what we believe and teach to the test of Scriptural truth. Our example is found in Acts 17:11 "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."

Lets look at the saying, which I've heard used to defend anything from Promise Keepers to psychology and the ecumenical movement. "We don't want to throw out the baby with the bathwater." 

Historically the saying came from a German poem from the fifteenth century and became a common saying for not throwing out the good with the bad. It came from the old practice of using one tub of water to wash in, starting with the father, with the baby being the last to be bathed in what became filthy, murky water. The fear was that the baby would get lost in the filth and be thrown out with the mucky water. Some suggest once a year was custom for the bath, monthly might have been a luxury. Regardless, man's fleshly wisdom isn't usually aligned with God's wisdom. 

Perhaps the correct and Biblical response to not throwing the baby out with the bathwater is, "what is the baby doing in that filthy, disgusting water in the first place.?" Simple hygiene dictates that the baby will become diseased and unhealthy if placed in filthy water. The purpose of the baby's bath is to make it come out different than when it went in. Filthy water doesn't clean, it makes things become muddy and unclear.

After finding no actual Scripture reference to this saying, one can then try to suggest a Scripture that means the same thing. Is there a Scripture that means one should keep a bad, un-Biblical or unsound source or teaching since there might be some good in it or some good will come out of it? Some suggest the end justifies the means. 

I recall a conversation with a gentleman whose website very clearly renounced tongues and the charismatic movement. Yet, he promoted websites through his positive Links page,  whose authors were of that nature, "because some of their information was good." He quoted the baby/bathwater saying in his defense, and I challenged him to provide the matching Scripture so that I could start doing that too, because it would definitely make things a lot easier. 

After one day of seeking, he came back to me having tried to find a supportive Scripture, with the resulting conviction that there wasn't one. On the contrary, he said he was fully convicted of the Scripture, Galatians 5:9, "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." He removed the offending links from his website. 

On the same vein of false teaching is the saying, "I eat the meat and spit out the bones." It's used countless times to defend using the teachings of favorite icons, who upon evaluation, are far from the Word of God. But they do have "truth teasers" in amongst those bones, so the undiscerning will read and find that "meat" to validate their teachings. Supporters lay claim to the idea that no one is perfect and if they can glean one thing from an otherwise unsound teaching or writing, they'll keep that meat and spit out the offending bones. They don't believe it to be unsound to be taught both doctrinal truth and error and uphold the person who teaches in this manner. If one is that hard up to find sound doctrine, perhaps opening one's Bible is the answer. 

There is a Scripture that some will attempt to use to validate this saying, that is really no different in philosophy than the "baby" saying.  1 Thessalonians 5: 21 "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."    Most will ignore the first part when defending their stand, and rather suggest that by spitting out the bones they are holding fast to that which is good. If one is to prove all things--meaning prove them to be of the Word of God or not and of the Lord Jesus Christ---then one need not be part of those that would teach falsehood. Holding fast to that which is good is holding fast to the Word of God and sound doctrine. 

What many also ignore when "spitting out the bones" is the next verse to the passage "22 Abstain from all appearance of evil." If someone is of the Lord Jesus Christ they are not going to be presenting truth and error as a regular part of their doctrine. This is not talking about spiritual immaturity or lack of knowledge or even an error in understanding. This is taking, for example, the basics of the faith, and perverting them ever so slightly so that Gnostic doctrine is taught. Those in leadership have no excuse for not teaching sound doctrine. It's a requirement.

1 Corinthians 4:4:1 "Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."

Faithful to God and faithful to sound doctrine which resides in Biblical truth.

In  2 Timothy 1:13 Paul wrote," Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." Do we see an example of having to learn sound doctrine by ingesting truth and error? Paul said to hold fast to sound words which he gave. He never wrote a letter where one had to find the meat while spitting out the bones. 

Paul speaks of learning sound doctrine as milk and strong meat in Hebrews 5:12-14.

12 "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."

In that passage the milk is for new believers and contains the very basic principles of the faith that all must learn.  Strong meat is for the more mature and leads one into the proper use of the Word of God, evident by their being able to discern good and evil and live a life in keeping with Biblical obedience. Not surprisingly Paul does not speak of having to spit out the bones while ingesting the strong meat. If we're actually getting strong meat and sound doctrine, we won't need to discard most of the teaching used to obtain it. 

One other saying that is grounded in falsehood is the one that "evil flourishes when good men do nothing," used by Christians and non-Christians alike.  Much is crammed into the saying by those who are of the dominionist or reconstructionist persuasion. Strange that one didn't find Christ or the apostles overthrowing Caesar or promoting the concept that all will be good if one stomps out those who disagree with liberalism, or non-Christians or Christians or whatever the definition of good and evil happen to be for the person touting the saying. Evil flourishes because of rejection of Jesus Christ. It will continue to do so until Christ returns.

2 Timothy 3:13 "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. 14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;"

Christians are called to reprove evil as shown, for example, in Ephesians 5:10 states: "Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."

We are called to act, but we do deal with it differently than non-Christians and for a different reason.

Sound Doctrine


Luke 12:1

"In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."


The Word of God is not founded on error with a bit of truth thrown in. It is Truth. We're to hold it up as the standard and Jesus Christ is to be the foundation built upon, not false theology or religion and unsound doctrine which permeates thought and ideas just as the Scriptures teach that a little leaven does. Galatians 5:9, "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." That leaven leads to hypocrisy in one form or another. It doesn't say that the little error can be ignored. Rather it says that little error will permeate all thought and doctrine.

God's Word is what is to be used to discern truth and error.

Hebrews 4:12 "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

It's not the good found amongst the error that should have us wanting to be part of a group, or theology or uphold a particular leader. If we know that the teaching or teachers are founded on falsehood or unsound doctrine, we are not to partake of that table. Isn't it being double minded to say one stands by the Word of God and yet goes by secular sayings? Doesn't God address that as well in James 1:8 "A double minded man is unstable in all his ways."  God's Word is our defense.

Ephesians 6:16 "Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:"

We are called to speak sound doctrine for a reason. We aren't given an option.

Titus 2:1 "But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:"

Titus 1:9 "Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers."

Those that prefer to eat the meat and spit out the bones, who don't want the baby thrown out with the bathwater, label themselves as sound Christians.  Yet, if one were to ask, if while they are adhering to the meat and bones theology, do they also adhere to the Biblical responsibility of rebuking and correcting those who they willingly admit are teaching the truth and error which they partake of?

Isn't it a Christians responsibility to discern truth and error and help our fellow believers grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ? Is it showing those Christian qualities to selfishly eat the meat, spit out the bones and never correct the false teaching, albeit to the detriment of younger or immature Christians who might not recognize the error, or  even for the sake of the person presenting the false doctrine? How many who prefer old wives tales and secular sayings over sound doctrine, would adhere to the Scripture that says in Romans 15:13:

"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. 
14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another."

To admonish suggests earnest or friendly warning and counsel. It's not a bad thing. It's a required sound doctrine that all are called to participate in. How many would also claim the following:

1 Thessalonians 5:12 "And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;...14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men."

1 Timothy 5:19 "Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.
20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. 21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality."

Paul commanded in:

2 Timothy 4:1 "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine."

Titus 1:13 "This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;
14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth."

To reprove-to scold and or correct gently, with kindly intent, to express disapproval of something with the intent of causing change. To rebuke---sharp or stern reproof for the benefit of the person. To exhort--warn or give advice, incite by giving warnings or advice. 

Notice that these action words are all Biblical words and necessary for growth. We as brothers and sisters in the Lord are to edify and encourage one another, and in that is the responsibility of helping those who have clearly erred from sound doctrine.

Romans 14:19 "Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another."

1 Thessalonians 1:11 "Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do."

Ephesians 5:8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

If people are seeking to obey Jesus Christ they will grow from edifying words.

Galatians 6:1 "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."

2 Timothy 2:22 "Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
23 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.
24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will."

If those teaching truth and error, and those teaching things such as old wives tales and secular sayings for sound doctrine, are not of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Biblical admonishment will be rejected in no uncertain terms. That response has been witnessed over and over again. But we're not to give up on being obedient to that cause. That doesn't mean all rebukes are sound, or themselves stand the test of Scripture. Some rebukes are done out of malice or ego or quite simply are not of the Lord and some wish merely to debate or argue. The point is, we need to be sure that what we believe aligns to the Word of God. Paul reminds us:

2 Thessalonians 3:13 "But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.
14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.
15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother."

Jude 3 "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."

We're not to shirk our responsibility as Christians and fully rely on others to tell us if something stands the test of Scripture. We're to test all things ourselves as well as share those things with our brothers and sisters in the Lord.  2 Peter 1:10 "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:"

If someone says they preach or teach the Word of God or abide by it for sound doctrine, hadn't it better be the Word of God they use?

John 14:21   Jesus speaking,  "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him... 
23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me."

Copyright . All articles are the sole property of and Vicky Dillen. All Scripture King James Version unless otherwise stated.

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