Religious Pride and Deception 2

Jeremiah 8:8 “How can you say, ‘We are wise, And the law of the LORD is with us’? But behold, the lying pen of the scribes Has made it into a lie. 11 “They heal the brokenness of the daughter of My people superficially, Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace.

Matthew 5:20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

The passage from Jeremiah (just above) is a devastating verse for those who take scholarship and learning and make it a means to change the law of the LORD. This leads to people being false prophets (as such) and telling people that they have peace when there is no peace. How easy it is for men to change the Law of God into something that it is not, whether it is setting out strict laws in a sense that are just manageable enough for a person to do what is said or whether it is not water things down to make things easy. I am sure that very few if any ever said that the scholars of Roman Catholicism of the 1500’s (and prior centuries) were stupid or uneducated, but simply that they used their scholarship to make the Bible say things it did not say. The wisdom of men cannot give us the spiritual teaching of Holy Scripture, but instead the Spirit of the Lord must teach us in the inward man. The Lord Jesus Christ is our Prophet and He must teach us.

Scholarship, while important as long as it is kept in its place, deals with the externals of Scripture. Scholarship cannot give wisdom to man in the inner places of the heart where it is the prerogative of God to teach as He pleases and if He pleases. The wisdom of man cannot reach the inner places where the wisdom of God alone can teach. The wisdom of man can teach about sin as to the externals and according to the letter of the law, but only the Spirit can truly reach the inward parts and show men the depths of their sin and give them a spiritual sense of this brokenness that they are born with. Only the wisdom that the Spirit gives can heal the brokenness that He brings to the inner parts of men. This is one reason why the scribes would try to heal the brokenness of the people and it would turn out to be only superficial. This is also why trying to heal people of a deep brokenness in our day through psychological methods rather than the inward teaching of Christ by His Spirit is so superficial in our day as well. It will always be superficial at any time in the future as well.

The only righteousness that the scholars (scribes) can come up with will always be some form of external righteousness, though they may speak of an inward kind in some way. The Pharisees and the Scribes during the time of Jesus on earth (and prior to His time on earth as well) had developed a rigorous standard of laws as they pursued holiness. Oh how impressive their external laws were, at least to unregenerate men. How impressive they were to men as they went along in their robes and in giving long prayers. But God looked upon their hearts and saw that all that they were doing they were doing for self and out of pride. They did not love God by their deeds and their actions; they were focused on themselves and hoping to impress men which demonstrated that what they were doing was out of love for themselves.

The standards of these men, though quite high in one sense, were still in the power of the natural man. They had watered down the standards of God and made them attainable by the natural man who would strive with great focus in his own strength. But the standards of God are not attainable by men in their natural strength because the standards of God can only be obtained by a spiritual strength and that can only come by grace alone. The natural man wants to do what he can and at times will agree to the help of grace, but the natural man cannot stand to bear the teaching that all he can do in the natural man is not only of now worth but that it is sinful.

This should make it quite clear that these men were deceived. No one sets out to impress others and say that impressing others is love for God. The righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees were only external, but Scripture is quite clear that the commands of God go to the depths of the soul. These men were deceived by their own pride and as teachers of men they deceived others as well. In that pride of their own nature they set up standards on how to keep the commands of God and yet that same pride blinded them to what the true standards were. That awful blinding pride then moved them to teach these things to others which only increased their own pride as they saw that they could keep them but others could not. Any standard that man comes up with that is not from the Word of God will lead to pride when it is kept and yet will lead to the bondage of others. Religious pride is a horrible thing in the hands of men who live by it and are damned by it as well, though indeed they may be highly educated and have vast amounts of scholarly knowledge regarding the Bible. After all, Scripture tells us that “Knowledge makes arrogant” (I Cor 8:1).

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