A Man can be unholy and yet still preach; a man can be unholy and preach profoundly; a man can be unholy and yet preach impressively, powerfully, dynamically and scripturally. But an unholy man will never be the mouthpiece of God; he will never speak a message from the heart of God or the throne of God. He will never be truely blessed of God. If he thinks he is doing so or that he can do so it is but a mirage which will soon disappear.
Holiness of life is fundamental and basic if you want to preach for God. It is not however necessary if you want to preach for man!
Holiness is fundamental if you want an eternal reward from God. If you want a present reward from man then un-holiness of heart with a veneer of spirituality in your preaching will suffice.
There are a strange bred of preachers who actually believe or at least seem to believe that God will ignore their defiled heart while honouring His Word in their lips. They believe that the pure Gospel of God uttered by their unclean lips carries the power and authority of God. To prove it they will draw on some obscure scripture from Old Testament types or some vague testimony to prove it. A preacher cannot be a liar and a preacher of truth at the same time.
Such preachers are of the family line of Balaam. They have the blood of Balaam coursing through their veins. They know the Word, experience the anointing, can give testimony to the Living God visiting them, speaking to them, using them and even at times they can perform great acts of obedience. But fundamentlly they have no true love of holiness in their heart.
Jeremiah must make a difference between the precious and vile if he is to preach, but Balaam can preach with covetous motives in his heart.
This practise of Balaam concerning being a teacher and prophet of the Word while at the same time unholy in heart spread all the way down through the generations until it appeared in the early church. Peter warned about the "way of Balaam." Jude warned about the "error of Balaam." And John warned about the "doctrine of Balaam."
This leaven began to spread in the early churches but the early apostles rose up quickly and preached against it. They fought such opinions because if unholy preachers with corrupt motives ever arise to lead God's work it will be all over. God would have to start all over again by raising up a holy preacher who would be His voice in raising up a holy people. Sad to say I have lived long enough to see people stirred by preachers who do not practise what they preach. As long as a man can educate the mind, stir the emotions and excite the imagination of the people he will be a popular preacher. But an un-holy man will never be popular with God.
When the prophets, princes and priests in Israel became corrupt, God raised up Jeremiah the prophet to speak to the nation once more. Praise God. Jeremiah made a difference in his message, methods and motives between what was vile and what was pure and so God made him His voice. He was to be an influence to all the people but he was in no manner, shape or form to be influenced in becoming more like them or accommodating their ways in order that his message be recieved.
It's better to have holiness than eloquence, and to have character than charisma. Better to burn in your bones and no-one believe you than to burn in Hell and wish someone would relieve you. Adorn your message with a beautiful spirit before men, but more importantly adorn it with holiness of heart before God.
I would rather stumble over words, choke in my throat, loose my train of thought or put people to sleep as i preach before stirring the anger of God because of having an impure heart but preaching pure words.
God will not judge ability but He will judge faithfullness!