How to Not Be Misled by Wrong Bible Teaching

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Do you ever worry that you’ll be sucked in by bad or wrong Bible teaching? I know this has been a fear of mine at times, and I have talked to others who are truly concerned about this.

Or worse, many Christians don’t fear this enough, and are sitting in churches or around tables with friends where they are hearing wrong things and believing them.

This is a topic that is heavy on my heart.

And there are about a gazillion ways that people distort and misinterpret scripture all while believing they are, in fact, right in their thinking.

All you have to do is type your opinion+”supportive Bible verses” into Google and you’ll find someone claiming the Bible agrees with you. Despite the popular saying, you can’t believe everything the internet tells you. You need a higher standard

There are many untrue doctrines and cultural norms that are catching on as truth among proclaimed Christ-followers all around us. But thankfully there’s hope.

I don’t need to clear up all of these gross misinterpretations of scripture right here, right now, and spend thousands of words convincing you of what I believe to be true. You probably wouldn’t agree with me anyway if that was my approach. 

And believe me, I know I don’t know everything. But I do think I’m on the right track, and you can be too!

What I can offer you are a few strategies for finding this truth on your own. The true-hearted will seek it, and the Holy Spirit can change even the strongest-held opinion.

How to Not Be Misled by Wrong Bible Teaching

1. Read the Bible in its entirety. Then read it again.

My spiritual mentor during my college years, Jen, read the Bible through every year in addition to her other study.

She would exhort me to never take scripture out of context, but to consider “the whole counsel of the word of God” in order to rightly divide it.

I have never forgotten this. Although I don’t make it through the Bible every year, I do shoot for ever other year. So far I’ve read it about 5 times and will continue to do so. Over time, more than anything else, this practice has given me the clear-headedness I need to not be misled by wrong Bible teaching, no matter how deceptive.

2. Make a point to learn and study cultural and historical context.

The Bible was inspired by God and is 100% true, but it was also written by someone, to someone and for someone. We should absolutely not remove it from its intended context. 

Many of these details are in scripture, right there for you, if you just pay attention. Some Bible study methods, such as the Inductive Study Method teach you to draw out these details from the text as you’re reading, a helpful practice.

3. Approach scripture honestly, not with an agenda.

This can be difficult, but let scripture inform you, not vice-versa.

Those of us who have been in church our whole lives have the hardest time with this. We’re very attached to the doctrine we’ve been taught and make it our mission to use scripture to prove our point, rather than letting down our guard and coming to it honestly.

We can trust scripture to speak for itself. We don’t have to over-extend verses that support our opinion and ignore those that don’t. God is far more mysterious than we give Him credit for sometimes.

4. Pray and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

“But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.” 1 John 2:27

If you are a true Christ-follower then you have the Holy Spirit. You don’t need me or anyone to teach you, you just need to pray and ask for His help. He is able to guide you into all truth.

Not being misled by wrong Bible teaching takes work, but the fruit of studying and reading the Bible is endless, absolutely above and beyond anything we could imagine.

If you’ve never read the Bible in its entirety, make it your goal to do that, perhaps in 2018 or 2019.

There are many great resources to help you, but I especially love The One Year Chronological Bible. Some more readable Bible translations include NIV and NLT.

What would you add to this list? How do you guard yourself against false teaching?


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  1. Jennifer says:

    One useful practice is to double-check sources when a teacher brings up a “new” insight that they found on a blog or in a devotional, especially if it seems a) to ‘perfect’ in adding in missing details to a passage b) asks one to understand or even translate the text very differently than commonly understood or c) teaches a new idea that is contrary to the context or something else in scripture.

    While the new idea could be right (such as historical details or cultural customs missed) more often than not it’s someone’s interpretation or fanciful imagination that is being mistook for insight.

    So checking sources (not just the book they got it from, but the source that book or blog referenced) can be a way to catch error. Even commentaries make mistakes, and even respected theologians are fallible and can sometimes mislead. Even quotes can be incorrect. And no matter how “popular” a new idea is, that doesn’t automatically make it true. Are there thinks Christians of centuries past may have missed or gotten wrong? Certainly. But we shouldn’t rush to sail into every new wind of doctrine, especially those that question the words of Jesus or proclaim that a “secret” in the text has only now been revealed.

  2. Maria T says:

    Does the version of the bible matter?

  3. This is great Katie. I would also suggest that being in fellowship at a church that faithfully teaches the Bible is another good way to avoid going off in error. Studying God’s word with friends and other believers can help and sharpen everyone, and others can point out mistakes or concerns when you are in community together.

  4. Eliza says:

    Thankyou for this blog post! As a newly minted Christian, I am feeling rather lost in all the different opinions that are portrayed in various blogs (let alone all the comments!). I have a rather sceptical and critical mind, so have been struggling with strengthening my faith, but I have found that the best way is just to keep praying, and even though I have only been reading it for a short time, it is amazing what I have been able to learn from scripture so far! Each day as I meditate on His Word, I find a particular verse that speaks to me. I am looking forward to reading the Bible through in 2016!

    • That is sooooo fun to hear Eliza! To say you are on the right track feels like an understatement! I am so excited for everything God will teach you and open your eyes to as you spend time in His word, seeking Him sincerely.

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