Religious Pride and Deception 10

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.

Mat 19:3 Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” 4 And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, 5 and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH ‘? 6 “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” 7 They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. 9 “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” 10 The disciples said to Him, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.”

The pride of the hearts of the Pharisees can be easily seen in their testing Him and wanting Him to agree with their traditions. But Jesus answered their traditions according to the Scriptures. He also answered them in a way that would prick their pride and point out their ignorance of the Scriptures. He did not just speak to the issue in an objective way, but He pointed to the pride of their hearts and their reliance upon tradition rather than Scripture in His responses to them. This is not something that men do today, but this is how Jesus dealt with the religious leaders (hypocrites) during His time on earth in bodily form. From this we can learn that it is not wrong to point out to men when they go astray, but since Jesus was Love incarnate it was in line with perfect love to do so.

The Pharisees were essentially asking/testing Jesus regarding His views on divorce. The question they asked Him reflected their views which was based on their tradition. They fit in quite well with the modern scene in which divorce was allowed (at least for the men at that time) for about any reason that the man wanted. But Jesus went straight to the nature of marriage and of how the man and the woman were joined and as such they were one flesh. Jesus then pointed out that it was God that joined the two together and made the two one flesh and that what God had joined together no man was to separate.

This was not according to the tradition of the Pharisees and so they pointed to some words of Moses (Deut 24:1-4) where said it was a command of Moses to simply give the woman a certificate of divorce and send her away. Jesus went straight to the point of contention, which was really tradition versus Scripture and the pride and self of man wanting to follow his sinful heart rather than God. The Pharisees said that Moses commanded them, but Jesus said that Moses permitted this because of the hardness of hearts. But Jesus pointed to the hearts of the Pharisees and said it was “because of hardness of your heart.” The difference between the tradition of the Pharisees and the words of Jesus are polar opposites.

Jesus then went on to show the real teaching of the Word of God. While Moses permitted divorce for any reason because of the hardness of the hearts of men, which many say that men in that time were killing their wives so that they could marry another, the foundational teaching is that apart from immorality there is not a biblical reason for divorce. The disciples were astonished and thought it was better not to marry since that was the case.

But what is so obvious in this text, as Jesus explains it, is that proud and selfish hearts in the time of Moses were permitted to divorce their wives and it was not commanded to do so. The scribes and Pharisees had taken something that Moses permitted at one point and twisted it to fit what their wicked hearts wanted. The Word of God, however, was ignored by the scribes and Pharisees in order to live as their selfish heart pleased. The problem is the same today. Proud men are twisting the Word of God to fit their desires and finding commands where there are no commands and permission where there is no permission. When men twist the Scriptures, whether to make it more legal or more libertine, it becomes a tradition built on a proud heart rather than the Word of God.

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