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
(For a list of verses on God's judgment, click HERE.)
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.
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.
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
[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.
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."
...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)
repeatedly warns His people that some who claim to speak for Him are actually
"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.
Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. They say,
"The LORD declares," when the LORD has not sent them" (Ezekiel
"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
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
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
"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
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
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.
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:
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
...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.
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
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)
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.