#1 We need to know what Scripture says.
If we haven’t taken the time to read God’s Word for ourselves then it’s easy to be convinced by someone that their doctrine/teaching is right when perhaps it is far from it. We need a solid understanding of Scripture, which means reading and studying the Bible for ourselves. It’s important we do this, because the more familiar we are with Scripture the less likely we are to be deceived. If we know the truth, we will be able to spot the lies.
One of my favorite parts about studying Scripture is that you don’t have to fear what you will find. It’s not a piece of fiction or man-made creation that’s going to fall apart or come unglued upon further inspection. Scripture will hold up to scrutiny. There will be the times not all of it makes sense and then you just have to keep going. Keep reading and keep putting the pieces together, because it does work and it won’t fail you.
#2 We need to know what the church doctrines actually are. What is being taught?
It’s really easy to just take in information that’s being passed along to us without really evaluating what it is, why it’s being taught, and whether or not its true. So we need to be asking questions like, “Why are we doing such-and-such?” “What is this supposed to signify?” “Can you show me this in Scripture?” “Do you believe this is the only way to do such-and-such?” “What passage does this doctrine come from?” “What other doctrines does this church teach and believe?” Etc.
#3 We then need to take the time to compare these church doctrines with Scripture and ask ourselves, “Are these doctrines (teachings) accurate to what the Bible says?”
Does this align with what I know of Scripture, or is this something some person has just invented? The problem of false doctrine is an age old issue, because anyone can teach anything. However, when we do know Scripture and have taken the time to ask ourselves about the doctrine, and when we have compared it to what we know of God’s teachings it’s much harder for even the convincing voice of a pastor or teacher to deceive us.
Our confidence in doctrine comes when we know for certain the doctrines (teachings) we are holding onto and standing upon are in fact accurate to Scripture.
1Ti 1:3-7 “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.” (NKJV)
Rom 16:17 “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.”
How we should teach and stand on true doctrine:
2 Timothy 2:15 “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (NASB)
Tit 2:6-8 “Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.” (NKJV)