Religious Pride and Deception 3

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 9:9 As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him. 10 Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. 13 “But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

The Lord Jesus called a tax collector to follow Him and the man left his booth and followed Christ. Jesus went to eat with this man and man other tax collectors and sinners came to eat with Jesus and His disciples. The Pharisees, however, saw this and they were not pleased at all. They wanted to know why Jesus was eating with the tax collectors and sinners. Behind their words we see the heart of men who thought that if Jesus ate with them He would not be eating with sinners. These were men who thought of themselves as holy and that tax collectors and sinners would make them unclean if they were around them.

The pride of these men can be easily seen in the way they viewed the tax collectors and sinners, but also in Jesus’ response to them. These men had a religion and by following it they thought they were holy and that they were not sinners as other men. Oh how their pride had blinded them to the sinful nature of human beings and that they were conceived in sin and were born dead in sins and trespasses. They were proud of their external laws of holiness that they thought they kept and by keeping their external laws they believed that they were holy and pleased God. They were proud of how they kept the law in front of other men and wanted others to esteem them for their knowledge and their holiness.

These men might have impressed those who were ignorant of the truth of God, but they did not impress the Lord Jesus at all. His words were powerful and they were striking to men then, but they are also powerful and striking to us today who are tempted in the areas of pride. Men have proud hearts today and the hearts of proud men are prone to think that they have the power to please God by their works and self-wrought holiness. What the Pharisees needed to hear then as well as now is that Christ did not come to save the righteous, but He came to save sinners. Yes, it is also true that the true and spiritual nature of the law must be taught to men so that they may see that they are corrupt sinners, but they must know that corrupt sinners who have been broken from their own efforts at holiness are the only ones that Christ came to save.

Jesus used the illustration of a physician. Those who are sick need a physician, not the healthy. Christ is the heavenly Physician and the Physician of souls. Christ is the only Physician for those who are spiritually sick and know that they have no ability to help themselves at all. Christ was not looking for the Pharisees who were proud of their theology and their holiness, but instead He was looking for the broken and those who had no holiness of their own. Only those who were broken of heart and had no righteousness and holiness of their own would look to Christ alone for righteousness. Only those who had no strength and no hope in themselves would look to grace alone rather than to themselves for some help if not all help.

Behold the proud Pharisees, but behold our own proud hearts as well. Religious pride is obvious in the Pharisees, but it may not be so obvious to our own hearts. We can be proud of our theology, our works, our holiness, our evangelism, our buildings, or just about anything. But Paul told us that we are to boast in the cross of Christ alone. We have nothing to be proud of and about but Christ alone. We have nothing to boast about but Christ alone. Those who are proud of themselves or anything about them and their works have the same spirit as the Pharisees. Remember, Christ did not come to save the righteous or even to help the righteous save themselves or to supply any part of salvation to the righteous (self-righteous). But He came to save sinners who have nothing to add to Him and His grace. Broken sinners with nothing to offer are those He came to save, though that appears weak to many.

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