When the preacher leaves the law

by Mike Glenn

Our text this morning is found in Mal. 2:4-9. It is sobering considering the condition of many preachers in the Lord’s church. This text is about the priests of the O.T. law. But their responsibilities closely parallel some of the responsibilities of New Testament preachers. The consequences of their failure are likewise similar.

The priest’s responsibility was to “keep knowledge” and the people who want to serve God should be able to “seek the law at his mouth.” Levi, the head of the priestly tribe, had done that faithfully. God says that as a faithful priest, Levi feared the Lord, truth was in his mouth, iniquity was not found in his mouth, he walked in truth and equity, and he turned many away from iniquity.

That all sounds very much like what every Christian today is to do and especially those who have accepted the work of preaching the gospel. So many expect the preacher to know the law of the Lord (and he should). In influence, the preacher is a leader in the church and in the world. Many look to him for wisdom (which requires knowledge), for guidance and discernment of situations in their life, and for a godly example that holds the Word up as our standard.

God says that the priests in our text had departed from the way. When that happens, several things are true of will become true.

One, it means that the word of God, even if known to the priest (preacher, elder), no longer rules in the life of the man. He is now ruling himself. God only enters into the picture when he can be “used” to further the man’s agenda or position.

Second, in order to live with himself, the priest will stop teaching the truth on the matters wherein his life is contrary to the Word. Or he will simply “neglect” to touch on those issues. That means that the people will not be getting the “whole counsel of God.”

If this process is continued in for very long, sin will begin to be known and public with no outcry against it. If I am walking in some sin, I certainly cannot accuse you in a matter. Thus, we will hide behind the comfort of “measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves among themselves” (2 Cor. 10:12).

God says that the natural result of such a condition is that the priest cause many to stumble at the truth of the law. When disdain and disrespect is shown for God’s law, it is also disrespect for God, Their action corrupt the covenant they had made with God and such actions today also cause us to “count the blood of the covenant … an unholy thing (Heb. 10:29). It makes us suitable only for the vengeance of God.

Friend, all of this is because the priests lips did not keep knowledge. Demand knowledgeable, faithful preachers. Learn and follow. Knowledge is this important.