Religious Pride and Deception 5

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 pride of men and being centered on self is what it means to be a fallen person. Apart from being born again, a person will live and die and be in hell for all eternity in that proud and selfish nature. Oh how proud man will do anything to keep his pride intact. Oh how self-centered man will fight and do anything to keep from dying to self as Christ said must be done if man is to follow Christ instead of self. When man is fighting to keep self and pride from anything that will prick his conscience and bring him and his self-sufficiency down in the presence of God, man will change biblical truth and anything else to keep self and pride comfortable. This is where heresies and false religions come from. However, it is also the case that man within the realm of Christianity can bring in false teachings and false practices.

The Old Testament Jews fell from following God over and over, but they would still keep up the outward performances or practices in some way. This should be a great and solemn warning to people today as well. It is not enough to have even biblical practices as the outward practices and the outward morality can be done with human strength and out of love for self and pride. Human beings can be kept from outward sin by circumstances and pride of appearance, but the heart can be a cesspool of sin at the same time. A man can be outwardly holy, even a stringent holiness, and be an orthodox preacher at the same time while his heart can be unregenerate and full of pride and self. A man can be meek and mild on the outside and a vicious murderer on the inside. A man can be very virtuous while committing adultery with hundreds of women in his heart.

While the examples from the previous paragraph may seem extreme to some, they also point to man in the worship of God. The externals are thought to be important, which they are, but they are not as important as keeping the heart in the presence of God. Not only can men be wild and wicked at heart while being outwardly moral, they can be extremely idolatrous in the love of self and the religion of self as they do outwardly religious things for self rather than out of love for God. Oh how wicked the Pharisees were when they would denounce Jesus the Lord for being around sinners. Did they not realize that He was around sinners when He was around them? Oh how their hearts rose in pride and self when He spent time with sinners rather than themselves.

Would Jesus spend time with modern religious people who spend themselves in moral issues today? Would Jesus attend professing churches to hear liberalism in the guise of Christianity today? Of course not as that is not even Christianity at all. But would He attend professing churches who focus on outward morality and religious activities? I would argue that He would most likely think of those folks as modern Pharisees. Who are the folks that Jesus would hang around today? He would hang around sinners, whether they were converted or not. But He would hang around humbled sinners who were not seeking to have their pride and self fulfilled. He would be around those who were broken sinners in need of grace and realized their need of grace. He would be around those who were in need of a spiritual Physician and not those who could handle things themselves or get help with external counseling. As Scripture teaches, God dwells with the poor and contrite and so Christ calls the weary and heavy-laden to Himself and not the proud religious people. We must learn this in our day and so must every person of all time.

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