Religious Pride and Deception 7

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 15:1 Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” 3 And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 “For God said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,’ and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH.’ 5 “But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,” 6 he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.

The Pharisees and scribes looked to their tradition, but Jesus looked to the Word of God. The Pharisees judged Jesus by their tradition, but Jesus judged them by the Word of God. It is a great pride in man to come up with rules and judge people by them, but even more it is pride to develop a tradition and follow it rather than the clear teaching of the Word of God. The Pharisees and scribes were zealous for their tradition and it became the standard for them rather than the Word of God.

Pride in the heart is a reason behind human reasoning and justifying behavior. The Pharisees and the scribes wanted a way to be clean, so they developed a way that they thought would make them clean, but it was only an external (not of the heart) form of cleanness as opposed to an internal (spiritual or of the heart). Their pride blinded them to the reality of the situation which was that washing your hands cannot make you spiritually clean nor can it help make you spiritually clean. The Old Testament spoke of lifting up clean hands, but it meant that in a spiritual way. It is what comes out of our hearts and that is done with the hands that make us unclean. But by pride and the blindness that pride brings the Pharisees and scribes had made a law that they thought made them clean, but it did nothing of the sort. However, in thinking that it made them clean it made them very unclean in that the pride of the Pharisees and the scribes increased and they were blinded even more.

The Word of God is quite clear that we are to honor our father and mother. Even more, the Old Testament said that anyone that spoke evil of his father or mother was to be put to death. But despite the clear intent of Scripture, the Pharisees and scribes had developed a tradition that allowed them to circumvent the commands of God in order to follow their own traditions. It takes a lot of pride to develop a tradition that circumvents the clear command of God, but that pride also blinded them into thinking that they were holy in what they were doing and they were even proud of following God (they thought) as they violated the commands of God. In this case, once again, the lying pen of the scribes had made a lie and people thought they were at peace with God when they were not.

It is clear to many people that the Pharisees and the scribes were stringent for their own laws and that stringency toward their own laws and traditions allowed them to play fast and loose with the Word of God. However, what we don’t see is the enormous pride and the blindness and deception of that pride that it took for them to do what they did. Another issue that we don’t see is that of our own pride which blinds us to the character of God, the commands of God, and the Gospel of grace alone. The Scripture tells us that a man must be converted to become like a child in order to enter the kingdom, yet we say that a man can believe without a change to his proud heart. The Scripture tells us that God dwells with the humble and contrite of spirit, yet we find ways to have God give us success and dwell with us without the agony of having our hearts humbled. Could it be that the scribes and the Pharisees have not gone away? Could it be that we have scribes and Pharisees (in spirit) among us today and that the Gospel of grace alone has been changed? Could it be that our own pride has blinded us to what is going on? Could it be that we want to be deceived and in our pride we are because we don’t want to be humbled and broken before God? If so, not only have we become like the scribes and Pharisees, the ministers and teachers among us are the modern scribes and Pharisees.

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