WHY WORRY ABOUT DOCTRINE?
Here's what the Bible says...

Compiled by Cedric Hohnstadt, August 2004

1. The Bible warns us to be careful about what doctrines we believe and teach.
2. The Bible teaches that church leaders (including teachers) must be held to very high standards.
3. God repeatedly warns His people that some who claim to speak for Him are actually false teachers.
4. The Bible teaches that false doctrines can be dangerous.
5. The Bible teaches that we must test every teacher, correct their errors, and even rebuke them if necessary.
6. We are to humbly love and respect our leaders and teachers. We must never judge them self-righteously, hypocritically, or with sinful motives.
Conclusion

(For a list of verses on God's judgment, click HERE.)


1. The Bible warns us to be careful about what doctrines we believe and teach.

In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. (Titus 2:7-8)

Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Tim. 4:16)

What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. (2 Tim. 1:13)

You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. (Titus 2:1)

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (1 Cor. 13:6)

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. (Hebrews 13:9)

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Tim. 2:15)

I hate and abhor falsehood
but I love your law. (Psalm 119:163)

The righteous hate what is false (Prov. 13:5)





2. The Bible teaches that church leaders (including teachers) must be held to very high standards.

[The LORD said,] "But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death."
     You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD ?" If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him." (Deuteronomy 18:20-22)

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. (James 3:1)

Since an overseer is entrusted with God's work, he must be blameless--not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. (Titus 1:7-9)

"From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." (Luke 12:48)

...Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! (Gal. 1:6-9)


3. God repeatedly warns His people that some who claim to speak for Him are actually false teachers:

"Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves." (Matt. 7:15)

Then the LORD said to me, "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds." (Jeremiah 14:14)

This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD... Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams," declares the LORD. "They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least," declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:16,32)

Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. They say, "The LORD declares," when the LORD has not sent them" (Ezekiel 13:6)

"I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them." (Acts 20:29-30)

If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. (1 Tim. 6:3-5)

Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God. (2 Cor. 2:17)

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. (2 Peter 2:1-3)

I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned...By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. (Rom. 16:17-18)

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (2 Tim. 4:2-4)



4. The Bible teaches that false doctrines can be dangerous:


A. False Doctrine can confuse immature Christians.

Then [when we become spiritually mature] we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. (Eph. 4:14)

B. False Doctrine can destroy people's faith.

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. (1 Tim. 4:1-2)

Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. (2 Tim. 2:17-18)

...there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies... (2 Peter 2:1)

They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach--and that for the sake of dishonest gain. (Titus 1:11)

C. False Teachers can ruin the credibility of Christianity


But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. (2 Peter 2:1-3)



5. The Bible teaches that we must test every teacher, correct their errors, and even rebuke them if necessary:

Test everything. Hold on to the good. (1 Thess. 5:21)

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11)

"What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. 'Expel the wicked man from among you.'" (1 Corinthians 5:12-13)

I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. (Revelation 2:2)

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Tim. 4:2-4)

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God's work--which is by faith. (1 Tim. 1:3-4)

He [an overseer] must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. (Titus 1:9)

For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach--and that for the sake of dishonest gain. Even one of their own prophets has said, "Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons." This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith... (Titus 1:10-13)

These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you. (Titus 2:15)

[It is sometimes necessary to point out false teachers publicly by name]
: Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. (2 Tim. 2:16-18)



6. We are to humbly love and respect our leaders and teachers. We must never judge them self-righteously, hypocritically, or with sinful motives.

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. (1 Tim. 5:17)

Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. (1 Thess. 5:12)

Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. (1 Peter 2:17)

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing...Love is patient, love is kind...it is not proud. It is not rude... (1 Cor. 13:1-7)

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)

There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

...correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Tim. 4:2-4)

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. (Phil. 2:3)

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Col. 3:12)

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. (Titus 3:1-2)

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (1 Peter 5:5)

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Eph. 4:2)

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. (1 Peter 3:8)




Conclusion
The Bible is full of warnings against false teachings. Just because someone quotes the Bible doesn't necessarily mean they are teaching the truth. Even the Devil quoted Scripture when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness (Mattheew 4:1-7). The devil does not feed us poison outright; he hides it in the meat.

It is important that we seek hard after the truth and study out Bibles carefully. But we must do so with a pure and humble heart. Our goal should never be to attack, mock, or ridicule, but to humbly defend the truth with love, conviction, and humility.

Remember, truth is truth and error is error, regardless of our motives.