Week 48 Beware of the Ungodly Priests and False Teachers

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)

Week 48

Scripture Readings: Malachi

Key Scripture Verses: Malachi 2:7-8 (NIV, Life Application Bible)

“‘For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth. But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,’ says the Lord Almighty.”

The book of Malachi is only four chapters long, but in the first chapter and a half the prophet Malachi addresses the priests’ lack of faith, their lack of knowledge of the scriptures, their lack of spiritual leadership, and their allowance of breaking God’s laws by those who were influential in the community. Malachi presents God’s anger towards his own priests who have broken their covenant with him by their misconduct.

The priests and spiritual leaders were leading the people astray by not being faithful themselves to God. Malachi appeals to them to change their ways and to rededicate their lives to God and warns them that they will be judged harshly for their disobedience.

This is important for us to pay attention to, because we who are believers are all representatives for God by example of how we live and conduct our own lives, whether we are members of the clergy or not, as all are called to minister to each other in God’s love. If we say we are Christians, others will observe how we live and how we do God’s will in our own lives—we need to be careful what example we become to others.

As the scriptures indicate, clergy have a special calling and there are some who may not be good examples, having broken their covenant with God. We all need to be careful whom we listen to and from whom we get our spiritual instruction.

But, the clergy are not responsible entirely for our understanding of God and his will. We are ultimately responsible for our own spiritual growth and development by our own individual relationships with God. Our spiritual leaders can only lead us and guide us towards the truth and encourage us to become more Christ-like in our devotion and our worship. This is why we must be careful from whom we get our guidance.

Faithful readers, be assured that there are many false teachers, poor spiritual leaders, and pastors who profess the truth but are not faithful believers. There are professors in our seminaries who teach Christian theology but who are not Christians, but are actually atheists. There are Christian pastors who have lost their faith and do not teach the Bible, may not even believe in the resurrection. You need to discern for yourselves whether or not you are being taught biblical principles. You need to read the scriptures for yourself and ask God to reveal himself to you in your own study and worship. Then you will know whether you can trust the counsel of those who guide you.

Rest assured, the false teachers will be judged harshly for willingly misleading and teaching false doctrine. This is why not everyone is called May we be faithful disciples in our study and worship so that we are not misled and are not misleading to others.

We are all called to minister to each other. We are all called to relationship with Jesus Christ. We are called to first love God and then to love our neighbors as ourselves. We all need to know the scriptures and to read and study them for ourselves and for our own faith development in order to follow these commandments.

May we be blessed with the discernment that comes from God himself—if we ask, we will receive. May we accept and receive the loving God who faithfully seeks us and pursues us and allow him to be our own high priest.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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