Here are five helpful ways that I’ve learned to discern truth from error. What ways might you suggest?
Daily Bible Reading
This might be the single greatest way to be able to discern truth from error. How does the FBI train their staff to find counterfeit money? They study the real thing for hours upon hours; in other words, they spend thousands of hours looking at paper money so that they know it so well, they can spot the counterfeit a mile away. The more you get into the Bible, the more the Bible gets into you, and when you read or hear something that just doesn’t sound right, you’ll recognize it as counterfeit teaching because you know the real thing so well.
Pray to the Helper
The Helper is, of course, the Holy Spirit, and as God, He can point out error when we are not quite sure. Jesus said the Helper “will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26), and Jesus promised the “Advocate to help you and be with you forever” (John 14:16).
Listen to Biblically Solid Teachings
I have listened to a lot of rock-solid Bible teachers over the years and in seminary, and the more I hear these teachers, the more I can discern what is true and what is not. That’s why my favorite preaching is expository preaching where the pastor, teacher, or professor goes through the Bible verse by verse. You get to hear the text in the proper context and avoid hearing a pretext. Proof texting, which is what so many false teachers do, where they take one text out of context and create a pretext or they build a doctrine over that one verse, and it’s usually a false doctrine. That is a sure-fire way of hearing some false teaching.
Buy a Study Bible
I have three study Bibles, and they have some very good commentary that helps when wrestling with difficult Bible verses, which are often the focus of false teachings. Errors can happen so easily when we don’t fully understand certain verses. Sometimes the cloudy is made plain by the clear, and a good study Bible gives you cross-reference Scriptures where you can read more about a difficult verse when you come across one.
Obey the Truth
There seems to be a way to learn more truth, and that is to obey the truth that you already know or have learned. When God gives us some light and we walk in that light, we are given more light. That seems to be the way it works for me anyway. If we are not obeying what truth we already know, why would God give us more truth? He only gives to those who use what He gives.
Discernment is so important. We can discern truth from error by abiding daily in the vine–and that is Jesus Christ and His Word (John 15:1-8)–by praying for the Holy Spirit’s help, by studying the Word with a good study Bible, by sitting under good Bible teachers, and by obeying what we do know as the truth. It is true: A half-truth is a whole lie. We need to recognize the truth, for it is the truth that sets us free (John 8:32)–free from sin and free from error.