March 6, 2022

Not Exposing Error: A Serious Error in Preaching

Written by:
Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy

We have no shortage of “evangelical” pastors and preachers who preach biblical and helpful messages. But in modern times, an erroneous trend is increasingly found among such preachers. The error is not that they outrightly teach false doctrines, but rather, they do not preach truth explicitly so as to uncover the widespread sinful and worldly habits in their congregations or the apostasy and compromise in the modern Christian world.

A great number of preachers of our times prefer to leave the errors and evils among their flocks untouched in their preaching. Though they preach that repentance is a necessity, they will not rebuke immodesty, carnality or materialism in their congregations. They are only concerned about giving cosmetic beauty to their preaching. Their preaching seldom goes beyond surface; it hardly touches the “raw nerve” of the people’s conscience.

Why Don’t Preachers Expose Error?


Whenever a preacher stands up and preaches, he does so with the hope that his voice will be heard and that his message will be received in full by the congregants. Herein lies the danger. When people’s opinion becomes predominant in the mind of the preacher, he seeks to cater to their pleasure rather than preach the will of God in its entirety, which is expected of him. The ultimate duty of every preacher is not to please the crowd, but to please God. The preacher who is a man-pleaser is an entertainer – not a servant of the Lord, nor a faithful minister of His Word.

Another problem of a preacher who is preoccupied with the acceptance of the people, is that he will be constantly under an irresistible pressure not to apply the truth of God’s Word in a way that would unsettle the “comfort” of the errant ones. A popularity-conscious preacher will be silent even when he is aware of the unrestrained sinful ways of his congregants. Such a man cherishes the comfortable relationship that he enjoys with the congregants, rather than the holiness and glory of God. He feels more at ease with the abominable ways of the men and women of his congregation than with the discomfort resulting from the bold rebuke of their immodest, carnal and materialistic ways. So, he develops a style of preaching which appears to be biblical but without full, appropriate and necessary application of God’s Word to the lives of his hearers.


Pragmatism is the mindset and principle of those who pursue fame and recognition. It is the notion that meaning or worth is determined by practical consequences. Where pragmatism reigns, only visibly productive ideas and practices are pursued. All else, even biblical principles, are considered secondary. Pragmatism pushes aside holiness, faithfulness and the fear of God from their primacy in preaching, and replaces them with bigger crowds, human appeasement, more money, more glamour, etc.

Insofar as preachers and their preaching, ministry and life are concerned, the present pragmatism of modern Christianity is at odds with Scripture. It is leading preachers away from being admonishers of sin and false doctrines to being their accommodators. The pragmatist’s road to popularity is too often paved with deception and lined with vagueness. The “signposts” on such a highway to acceptance are always indistinct. Pragmatic pastors are leading their flocks into puddles of sin and the devil’s pastures. This has become an acceptable way of life for those on the way to the top of the ladder of success in the business of entertainment.

The world thinks little of using improper manoeuvres to gain its goals. A vast number of people have obviously determined that morality is no longer a needed asset in the social, political and spiritual fields. Immodesty and immoral lives are quietly overlooked. Smooth-sounding professionalism of pastoral preaching largely turns a blind eye to apostasy and compromise. More and more preachers and churches are toning down and paring down their messages. Once in a while, these will be hinted at, but not dealt with in a plain manner.

None of these should surprise us. The Spirit of God has already cautioned us in His Word: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 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 4:2-4).

Personal Pleasure and Gain

To offend listeners means loss of income and influence. So, the pragmatic ideology of modern preachers has filled many church pulpits with “dumb dogs”, who refuse to “bark” and alert men of the spiritual calamities that encircle them. Pragmatism has produced a breed of “greedy dogs” who rather remain silent for their own gain, even at the expense of the souls placed under their charge.

This reality of unfaithful, pragmatic modern preachers reminds us of Paul’s words, “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (1 Timothy 6:3-5).

The Lord also spoke of such pastors in Isaiah 56 – “His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter. Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant” (vv. 10-12).
As Isaiah said, one of the reasons for the silence of many pastors in the face of increasing sinfulness in their congregations is their own love for sinful pleasures, such as wine drinking, immorality and worldliness.

Exposing Error: Is It Worthwhile?

Exposing error is a very unpopular task. Objection is often raised even by some who are sound in the faith - regarding the exposure of error as being entirely negative and of no real edification. But from every Scriptural standpoint, it is most worthwhile. Proverbs 24:25 affirms, “But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them.” A wise pastor will rebuke the sins of his congregation, and a wise congregation will gladly receive it with submission and obedience for their own blessing.

When a godly pastor or elder or a brother or a sister points out your errors, you ought to be thankful rather than resentful. Psalm 141:5 says, “Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.” You should not go against the loving act of the one who rebukes you. Neither should you smear his or her good intention with false accusations nor with your own false self-exaltation. Scripture says such angry responses belong to the scornful and the foolish ones. “Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee” (Proverbs 9:8).

God’s Word says, “Open rebuke is better than secret love” (Proverbs 27:5). And the next verse reiterates, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend”. It is the duty of every loving pastor to rebuke and correct his flock, even if it causes some form of emotional hurt to the offender. If rebuke is necessitated by sin or a doctrinal error, then godly love demands the intense rebuke of it. Unfortunately, today, rebuke is a much neglected duty of love. (I do not advocate harsh treatment of an errant brother [cf. Galatians 6:1-2], though I fully agree that a church should take biblical disciplinary actions against unrepentant men and women in its congregation [cf. Matthew 18:15-20].)

At this juncture, I would like to bring to my readers’ attention the words of a famous godly preacher of yesteryear, H. A. Ironside (1876–1951): “Error is like leaven of which we read, ‘A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.’ Truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, except that it is more innocent looking and, therefore, more dangerous. God hates such a mixture! Any error, or any truth-and-error mixture, calls for definite exposure and repudiation. To condone such is to be unfaithful to God and His Word and treacherous to imperiled souls for whom Christ died.”

I end this article with the advice of the apostle Paul to all preachers: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). In a similar vein, he advised Titus concerning some malicious men who had infiltrated the church, “whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:11-13).

Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian Church adheres to the system of faith commonly known as the “Reformed Faith” as expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.
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