Religious Pride and Deception 9

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 16:21 From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.

It is hard to come to grips with the idea that the most religious groups (even conservative groups) in the days of Jesus were the ones who hated Jesus the most and were the ones that essentially coerced the Pilate into having Jesus put to death on the cross. A major part of why they hated Jesus was their own pride and self. It may be even harder to come to grips with the fact that our own religious groups would do the same thing if they had the opportunity. While it was the pride of man that put Christ on the cross, in our day it is the pride of man that denies the meaning of the cross. While it was the pride of man that hurled false accusations against Christ in the past, it is the pride of man in our day that denies many truths about Christ. It was the pride of man that refused to give up honor in the days of Christ, in our day it is also a refusal to give up standing before men that will push them to hold to doctrines that are false and make allowances for teachings that are utter heresy.

Theological error seems like such a small thing to modern people, but it is in our theology where our pride can shine forth in our teachings and beliefs about Christ. It is also true that our theology is closely followed by daily life where our true beliefs are expressed and manifested, but our lives express or deny something about God at all points. Romans 1:18-32 sets out the clear teaching that men deny something about God in order to sin, which in doing so their hearts are hardened. It is nothing but pride and arrogance for a finite human being to choose him or herself over the infinite living God. In choosing self and sin over God, it is an incredible pride that is manifested and displayed. The truth of God as in His being and in His basic nature is so clear in nature and is stamped on the heart of man that man must deny those things about God so that man can live in sin as he pleases.

The scribes and the Pharisees had the perfect image of God living before them and teaching them about God and His commandments which reflect His character. They hated the teaching of the true nature of the commandments because it exposed them as wicked and vile sinners rather than holy men as they thought. The life of Christ put God on display before them and their wicked and proud hearts hated God as He was manifested to them and their pride and self-love could not bear a true sight of God and then of themselves. The scribes and Pharisees hated (against the sixth commandment) Jesus so much and they were blinded by their self-love and pride so much that they found excuses to have Jesus killed and justify that. It is true that the religious leaders had Him killed, but they also deceived the people (who might have wanted to be deceived) into calling for the execution of Jesus.

But let us not think that modern religious leaders are different in any real way. What if Jesus came on earth today and spoke to them as He spoke to the scribes and Pharisees? What if Jesus would teach men today and show them how the modern scribes (scholars) and Pharisees (religious leaders who think they are holy and orthodox) had changed His laws and doctrines and as such were leading people astray? What if Jesus told modern scribes and Pharisees that they were whitewashed tombs? What if Jesus told the modern scribes and Pharisees that they were doing all they were doing in order to make money and be seen by men?

The character of God has not changed and men are born dead in sins and trespasses (full of pride and self) as they always have been. Religion does not change the heart of man from being full of pride and self, but instead it provides a way for self and pride to be religious. The great truths of Christianity are used by the pride of men to seek honor and glory for themselves. This can be in terms of holiness, writing of books, or to be speakers at conferences. The only way a proud heart can be changed is for a greater power to overcome it. Pride is not a greater power than pride, so it must be the power of God that is needed to change hearts. Only God can humble proud hearts and it is all to His glory when He does so. Apart from humility we deceive ourselves and others. We must have God show grace or our pride and self will grow to where it would crucify Christ as well.

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