There are thousands who seem ready to believe anything in religion if they hear it from an ordained minister.
They forget that clergymen may err as much as laymen. They are not infallible. Their teaching must be weighed in the balance of Holy Scripture. They are to be followed and believed, so long as their doctrine agrees with the Bible, but not a minute longer.
We are to try them “by their fruits.” Sound doctrine and holy living are the marks of true prophets. Let us remember this.
Our minister’s mistakes will not excuse our own. “If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the ditch.”
What is the best safe-guard against false teaching?
Beyond all doubt the regular study of the word of God, with prayer for the teaching of the Holy Spirit. The Bible was given to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. (Psalm. 119:105.) The man who reads it aright will never be allowed greatly to err.
It is neglect of the Bible which makes so many a prey to the first false teacher whom they hear. They would have us believe that “they are not learned, and do not pretend to have decided opinions.” The plain truth is that they are lazy and idle about reading the Bible, and do not like the trouble of thinking for themselves. Nothing supplies false prophets with followers so much as spiritual sloth under a cloak of humility.
JC Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (1856)