Jeremiah 23:16-17
Thus says the LORD of hosts:
“Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you.
They make you worthless;
They speak a vision of their own heart,
Not from the mouth of the LORD.
17 They continually say to those who despise Me,
‘The LORD has said, “You shall have peace” ’;
And to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say, ‘No evil shall come upon you.’ ”
The above verses in Jeremiah 23 do not offer the kind of advice you’d expect from the Lord, do they? “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you.” That’s like someone saying not to listen to pastors who preach to you, isn’t it? Yup! The key here is to make sure that what pastors are preaching is actually the Word of God. That is the context of these verses and the problem with these “prophets.” They weren’t teaching the Word of God, instead they were making two huge (unfortunately still very common) mistakes: first, they were speaking their own hearts and, second, they were telling the people only what they wanted to hear.

To start, let’s touch on this first blunder, that they were speaking their personal truths and not the Word of God. This is a huge mistake still made behind many pulpits today. The harsh reality is, because of this, there are plenty of pastors who should not be listened to. Instead of telling the people what God desires them to hear, some pastors teach what is in their own hearts. Amazingly, it’s in the book of Jeremiah where we read that our hearts are desperately wicked, who can know it? So to paint the picture with clarity: those who teach from their hearts are fallible people who are teaching from the most deceptive part of their nature. This is precisely why some shouldn’t be listened to.

The second mistake made by these so-called prophets is that they taught the people what the people wanted to hear. They tickled their ears. This happens because it’s easy to maintain the crowd when you tell others what they crave to hear. The annual budget doesn’t suffer when people hear what they want to hear. The growth of the church can’t be stopped if you tell people what they want to hear. Unfortunately, while there may be many attending and listening, individually no one is growing. The reason for this is because what we want to hear is far from what we need to hear. The only one who knows what we need to hear is the One who wrote the Bible, which, once again, shows the importance of genuinely teaching the Word.

So, in conclusion, those who are worth listening to are those who are teaching you the authentic, untainted Word of God. If your flesh gets offended by the message of the Bible, that’s a good thing. A pastor ought to focus on LOVINGLY teaching the TRUTH. This is crucial.

 I’ll finish by encouraging you with some recommendations, and by reiterating that, although some pastors shouldn’t be tuned into, there are many wonderful pastors who you ought to listen to. For example: Allistair Begg, Ed Taylor, Jim Gallagher, Charles Swindoll, Robert Furrow, Pat Lazovich, Matt Chandler, David Guzik, and Ravi Zacharias (just to name a few)!
God Bless,
Pastor Eric Souza