Although our natural inclination is to look to our religious leaders for spiritual insight and direction, we should not be surprised to find them adrift in compromise and sin. The Bible reveals that the religious hierarchy has gone astray throughout biblical history. There has been a long line of unfaithful and disobedient priests, prophets, apostles, teachers and ministers throughout both Old and New Testament times; furthermore, we are told that this problem will continue to worsen as we approach the end of time.
Jesus called the Pharisees, who were church leaders of His day, blind leaders and blind guides (Matthew 15:12-14; 23:16-26). He also warned of false prophets down through the ages (Matthew 7:13-20; 24:11; 24:24).
The Apostle Paul spoke of false apostles and of Satan having ministers who pretend to be ministers of righteousness in 2nd Corinthians 11:13-15. We are also forewarned of false teachers by the Apostle Peter (2nd Peter 2:1-3). And, in 2nd Timothy 3:13, we are admonished that “impostors” will grow worse and worse.
The prophet Jeremiah states that God’s people became lost sheep because the “shepherds” led them astray (Jeremiah 50:6). In Lamentations 2:14, he also said that the prophets were guilty of giving false visions, prophecies and delusions, instead of revealing the peoples iniquity (sins).
In the book of Isaiah, the prophets and elders are accused of “teaching lies”, thus causing God’s people to err and be destroyed (Isaiah 9:14-16). Isaiah also states that beasts were able to devour God’s people because the “watchmen” (leaders) were ignorant, greedy and blind; he says that they were like “dumb dogs” who don’t bark to give the necessary warnings (Isaiah 56:9-11). What good are physical watchdogs who are blind, not seeing the dangers threatening the “flock”, and who are dumb, unable to bark so that the flock can hear the needed warnings? Likewise, what good are spiritual watchmen who are spiritually blind, not seeing the spiritual perils that threaten God’s people, and who are “spiritually dumb”, not proclaiming the needed messages of warning and reproof to urgently call God’s people to repentance?
The prophet Ezekiel declared that God’s shepherds fed themselves instead of caring for the needs of the flock (Ezekiel 34:2; Ezekiel 34:6-10). And, in Ezekiel 34:10, God solemnly states that He will require the flock at their hand. In other words, God will hold His unfaithful shepherds personally responsible and accountable for those in their flocks who are lost because of their unfaithful shepherding and leadership! This passage in Ezekiel and the earlier text in Isaiah 9:14-16, both indicate that God’s people can be led into error and end up being lost and destroyed because of following wayward shepherds, elders and leaders. This should serve as a “wakeup call” to lazy Christians who have been blindly following everything their ministers tell them, and who have not been reading their Bibles for themselves. If your minister is not teaching biblical truth, and you are accepting everything he teaches, you could wind up being one of the lost sheep that will be required at his hand, as stated in Ezekiel 34:10.
As you can see, the Bible clearly chronicles a history of frequent unfaithfulness by church leaders in both Old and New Testament times. It speaks of blind guides and blind watchmen who lead the people astray. It tells of unfaithful shepherds who teach lies and delusions, instead of revealing the people’s sins. It refers to leaders who are like dumb watchdogs who don’t bark to give the needed warnings. It warns of false prophets, false apostles, false teachers and ministers of Satan pretending to be ministers of righteousness.
However, even more concerning, the Bible tells us that these problems will intensify as time continues. Therefore, we can expect an even greater problem today with unfaithful leaders. As the Apostle Paul wrote in 2nd Timothy 3:13: “Impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” Moreover, in today’s Church, we do not have faithful prophets and apostles like Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Peter and Paul to boldly sound the alarm, warning us of these dangers. However, we do have the Holy Bible. And, we need to thoroughly acquaint ourselves with that divinely inspired book to safeguard ourselves from deception and error.
My various doctrinal articles posted on this website, clearly show that we have certainly arrived at the time referred to by the Apostle Paul in 2nd Timothy 4:2-4, where Paul stated that: “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine………and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables”. My articles clearly reveal that we are living in the days foretold by Paul; that is, the days of doctrinal fables and of the rejection of scriptural truth.
In 2nd Corinthians 6:14, the Bible states: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” The contemporary Christian Church has abandoned the light of scriptural truth, and has replaced it with the darkness of human opinions and traditions.
Jesus stated that no man can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). He also said that, if we love our father, mother, son or daughter more than Him, then we are not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:37). If that is true regarding the closest and strongest human ties with our immediate family members, it would certainly also be true for our relationships with our pastors, denominations and local church families.
You are at a critical “fork in the road”, concerning your personal relationship with Jesus and His Holy Scriptures. Are you going to obey Jesus and the Bible, or your church’s traditions? Are you going to obey Jesus and the Bible, or your pastor’s opinions? Who has your heart? Who do you love most? Who will you honor and obey?
Does God require you to be obedient? The Bible tells us to be “doers” of the word, and not just hearers (James 1:22-25). It says that our “doing” or obedience is proof that we have a living faith (James 2:20). Scripture also states that our obedience is proof of our “friendship” with Jesus (John 15:14). And, the Bible declares that our obedience proves that we know and love Him (1st John 2:3-4; John 14:15; 1st John 5:3).
Jesus said that, if we don’t obey Him, we should not even call Him our Lord (Luke 6:46). And, Scripture states that God only gives His Holy Spirit to those who do “obey Him” (Acts 5:32). Also, the Bible says that God’s “end-time people” will be distinguished by keeping God’s commandments (Revelation 12:17; Revelation 14:12); moreover, the Apostle John stated that anyone who claims to know Jesus, but does not keep His commandments, is a “liar” (1st John 2:4). Plus, Jesus declared that only those who do God’s will, which is obedience, can enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21). Furthermore, God’s Word states that Jesus offers His eternal salvation to those who “obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9).
Solomon sums things up by saying that the conclusion of the whole matter is that we need to “fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). So, yes, I think we can safely say that God does indeed require obedience.
The truth of the matter is, if we truly love Jesus and His word supremely, rather than making excuses for our wayward pastors and congregations, and clinging to them in spite of their scriptural errors, we should be filled with righteous indignation and grief over their infidelity to our Lord and His Holy Scriptures. Note the following verses from the Book of Psalms, which display that kind of “appropriate zeal” for God’s word. In all three passages, the original word translated as “law” is the Hebrew word, “torah”. This is the word that the “Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance” states, especially refers to the Decalogue (Ten Commandments). One of those Ten Commandments indisputably was and is the seventh-day Sabbath command, which I conclusively prove to still be “binding” through dozens of scriptures, in my article titled “Sabbath” on this website. Therefore, the following Psalms texts demonstrate how we should view and respond to those who ignore and disobey God’s Sabbath commandment, as well as the other nine commandments.
The Psalmist stated: “Rivers of water run down from my eyes, because men do not keep your law” (Psalms 119:136). He also said: “Indignation has taken hold of me because of the “wicked” who forsake Your law” (Psalm 119:53). Did you notice that God depicts those who depart from His Ten Commandments as being “wicked”? And, in Psalm 119:126, the Psalmist declares: “It is time for You to act, O Lord, for they have regarded Your law as void.” His passion for God’s word caused Him to request God to take action against those who rejected the law. The Psalmist did not make excuses for those who disobeyed God’s law, but rather he was grieved and moved with righteous indignation against them. If we truly love Jesus and His Holy Scriptures, this will also be our response when we see others willfully and blatantly trample upon God’s commandments.
At this time, it is appropriate to issue another caution. Don’t be impressed by today’s religious schools and famous theologians with impressive, religious titles, but compare everything they teach with Scripture, as the New Testament book of Acts records was done by the noble Christians in Berea (Acts 17:10-11). The Bible commends them for searching the Scriptures to see if Paul’s teachings were correct. If it was a good idea to check out Paul’s teaching, and he wrote half of the New Testament, how much more important is it to check out the teachings of modern pastors and theologians who are not worthy to even be compared with the Apostle Paul?
We must also remember that the vast majority of “respected” church leaders in Jesus’ day were in error. They had graduated from the respected religious schools of their day, and had received the respected religious titles of rabbi, teacher, scribe, lawyer, priest etc., but their teachings were steeped in human opinions and traditions, and were not in harmony with God’s word. Therefore, they were challenged, corrected and “schooled” by Jesus’ disciples, unlearned fishermen who had spent much personal time with Jesus and His word.
God is calling the same kind of humble, ordinary people today to once again challenge and correct an arrogant, stubborn and wayward religious hierarchy in the contemporary Christian Church. The Bible is clear that God does not use the highly educated and theologically famous, but rather those who are unimpressive, unrenowned and who are regarded as foolish by the “religious big shots” (1st Corinthians 1:26-29). In other words, God uses people like you and I.
So, I encourage you to be “defenders of the truth” and faithful guardians of God’s Holy Scriptures. Do not “filter” the plain teachings of the Bible through the “strainer” of your church’s traditions or the opinions of your pastor, but rather “filter” your church’s traditions and your pastor’s opinions through the “divine strainer” of the Holy Scriptures. And, expel and discard everything that is not in harmony with God’s word. Your first and primary responsibility and fidelity is to the Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Bible; that takes precedence over your local church, pastor and denomination. Are you willing to make such a bold and faithful stand?