The following is a comment addressed to this writer on an Internet discussion board some years ago.
There are some 36,000 variants (denominations, sects, movements, etc.) of Christianity, nearly all of which claim to study and follow the Bible, with the Spirit guiding them, yet they teach different (sometimes wildly different) and inherently contradictory things. And back them up from the Bible. How do you know that you happened to pick the right variant out of the 36,000? Remember, the others think that the Bible and the Spirit back them up just as much as you do!
My Response Follows;
ALL denominations pick and choose what to believe and how to believe that which they have deemed worthy of belief and practice. Even
Non-Denominational churches are in practice a denomination. While some denominations are closer to the Bible than others and most all of them mean well, I don't embrace or endorse any of them. I get my doctrine from the Bible, not from a council or a preacher who may or may not be born again.
Right off the top, Catholicism is easy to dismiss because it is not even Christian in belief or practice and an unbiased comparison of their Catechism and the King James Bible, or any Christian Bible actually, should make that clear to all but those who are willfully blinded. In their attempts to support their doctrines and practices their version of the Bible, the Douay-Rheims, follows many of the visibly altered and otherwise corrupted manuscripts, which by the way underlie all modern versions.
Most of the people the world sees everyday as being Christians have never been saved and born again, yet many preachers tell them otherwise being as deceived as are the people they supposedly minister to. This liberal age has attempted to turn Christianity into something akin to a lucky charm one wears while going about their life as they please. Nothing could be further from what Christianity is in reality, but as every true Christian knows, it is a lifestyle. Being a Christian requires one first be broken for their sins and most today don't even think they have ever sinned, much less do they see them self as exceedingly sinful and abhorrent in the eyes of a Holy God. Only being born again can change that and enable them to see the truth of God's Word and their perilous situation.
It is under the influence of the flesh instead of the Holy Spirit that most learn and teach what they think is the Christian message. Spiritual truth comes from the Spirit of God and is ONLY understood by the Spirit of God. It never comes from, nor is it understood by the flesh or reasoning of man.
Therefore, we have a whole host, even millions of people who think they are Christian and set themselves as an authority on the Bible. They make proclamations, write books, form doctrine, and in every way possible misrepresent the truth. Not because they are necessarily bad or evil intentioned people (sadly some are) but because in most cases they truly think they understand God, His Word, and what they are presenting. This alone opens the door for the multitude of conflicting doctrines we see spread around the world.
If one listens to or reads what is presented as factual truth about God and the Bible from most people, they will often find a disjointed theology that shows a clear lack of understanding of the nature and person of God. This is because an alarmingly large portion of what is taught today is not Spiritual truth but is carnal so-called truth. Carnal means representing the senses of man. It pleases and or satisfies one or more of mans senses and this includes more than the famous five of taste, smell, hearing, touch, and sight. Carnal works of the flesh include vanity, pride, greed, envy, emulation, and so on and much of what is taught today appeals to one or more of these senses.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. ~ 2 Timothy 4:3-4
It is under the influence of the flesh instead of the Holy Spirit that most learn and teach what they think is the Christian message. Spiritual truth comes from the Spirit of God and is ONLY understood by the Spirit of God. It never comes from, nor is it understood by the flesh or reasoning of man. This is why it is vital, even mandatory that a Christian be walking in the Spirit of God, that they be striving to live a holy and spiritual life pleasing to God because otherwise they have not the Holy Spirit residing in them. If they don't have God's Spirit then they have no hope of understanding their life, world, and most importantly the Word of God in any way but a carnal one.
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. ~ John 4:24
Satan is free to influence the carnal aspects and beliefs of those men and women who are not born again. The Bible tells us that Satan comes as an angel of light, encouraging us that we are following Jesus when we are not, and thereby reinforcing us in the error we embrace. When we don’t have the discernment that comes from having the knowledge of God and His Holy Spirit residing in us, we will accept Satan’s deception as truth from God if we acknowledge God at all. We are powerless to do otherwise until we are born again.
You ask how do I know that I have followed the right way. Because after I repented of my sins and God dealt with me for month on end to give me a heart of repentance, (not just a moments prayer), He allowed me to see myself through His eyes for a split second as my heart broke. When I came to that moment of Salvation, and it is a moment no matter how long the road to get there may be, I humbled myself and as I read the Bible I prayed for the Lord to help me understand. Daily I asked that HE be my teacher and not let me be taught or led astray by carnal teachers and doctrine. Over the years as I have been faithful to honor God and to seek Him and His truth, He has been faithful to teach me and show me.
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? ~ 2 Corinthians 13:5
The Bible tells us that the Spirit will confirm His Word in us through the Spirit that dwells in us if we are born again. That is one way I know when I am on the right path and there is no more sure guide than the superior King James Bible to show us just what is of God and what is not.
Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. ~ Romans 1:19
Every person who is born again gets a measure (meaning a portion) of discernment. The Bible teaches that this discernment is to be
exercised so that it will grow in us. Discernment is another word for judging between good and evil. When we have a well honed spirit of discernment we know immediately what is of God and what is not. We know instantly which places, things, activities, and people to avoid in order to stay on the path and be pleasing to God. I sometimes think of it like a sonar because I don't have to think and wonder about a situation or a person, it flashes up in my face and many times when it is a person, God shows us their heart is either right or it is in rebellion, and generally He uses their own words or actions to reveal their state. I don't see and know everything about them, not saying that, just that I see them as they stand with God. It comes with
exercise, knowledge, and faith as well as faithfulness.
I have no doubt or hesitation in knowing that I have followed the God of the Bible and that I serve His sinless Son Jesus Christ. Not because I
feel it to be so, but because of what His Word teaches me and the fact that He witnesses to my spirit and guides me as I am open to pray and hear Him. God tells us in His Word that He has revealed Himself to every person who is born so that they may know Him and know right from wrong. Most fight hard to blot those thoughts of God from their mind and heart because they are convicting to them and interfere with how most people choose to live and behave.
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: ~ Romans 1:20
No one is forcing anyone to believe in and follow Jesus Christ as everyone has the freedom to go the way they choose and live their life as they see fit. However they should be fully informed before they make their decision because the Truth will be unchanged regardless of what they do or how they believe. God has told us that there will be no excuses accepted on Judgment Day. Therefore those who have embraced a lie or have rejected the Christian faith and lifestyle should be confident enough in their decision to enjoy their life in this world because it is the only life they will have, unlike the Christian whose main and best life is yet to come.
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:9
Without the Spirit of God none of it makes sense and one is apt to follow any doctrine that sounds pleasing to them instead of what lines up with the written Word of God as found in the Bible.