Religious Pride and Deception 15

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 6:1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus applied this verse to prayer, giving to the poor, and then to fasting. In reality, though, we can be sure that Jesus meant this to apply to the whole of the Christian life. Whether it is the most religious thing we think we are doing or something we consider small, we are not to do any act of righteousness before men with the intent to be noticed by them. We are to live unto the Lord and to do all out of love for Him and His glory. Whether we eat, drink, or whatever we do we are to do all to the glory of God (I Cor 10:31). Doing this to the glory of God means we have to watch our hearts to be sure that we are not doing them in order to get the attention, approval, and honor of men.

It is important for men to carefully look to the Scriptures and look to what they actually say and imply rather than twist the Scriptures to make them controllable and understandable to the fallen mind. Whenever a person reads or studies the Scriptures, that person will either twist the Scriptures to fit his or her understanding and loves or that person will repent and seek grace to become like the truth of God in Christ who shines forth in the teachings of Scripture as the Spirit gives light. Theology and practice should not be separated, though indeed they can be distinguished. The scribes and Pharisees twisted the Scriptures to fit what they wanted and that meant that both their theology and practice were wrong. Today, the same thing is true. Men want God to be cool and to be relevant and so they twist the teachings of Scripture to fit what they have in mind. Heresies abound, false gods abound, and sin abounds in and out of the professing churches. But heresies are not seen, false gods are thought to be the true God, and sin is not understood to be sin as long as the Scriptures are twisted.

Preaching can be seen as a way of practicing righteousness as well. When preachers are not lovers of the true God and the manifestation of Himself in Christ, they become men who twist the Scriptures. They can deceive themselves into believing that because they preach and use the Scriptures in preaching that their preaching is an act of righteousness. However, as long as they preach for self and is an attempt to gain the attention and honor of men, they are not preaching out of love for God. Preaching in a way that is an attempt to get men to notice or to gain honor from men is nothing less than idolatry. Preaching is the way God has ordained for His glory to be declared, not a way for men to exalt themselves. Preaching should be a way of exalting and boasting in the cross of Christ and not a way of men to boast and exalt of themselves.

All that a person does is either for God or for self. All that a person does in religious things is either for God or for self. When a person does acts of mercies, those acts are either done out of love for God or out of love for self. But, it is argued, those acts are done for the person receiving mercy. The person receiving mercy does have some benefit, that is true, but the person doing them has an ultimate intent and motive. It may be that the person feels pity in some way for the person, but if the person shows mercy simply because of the feeling that person’s actions are done in an effort to make self feel better. It is also true that if the act of mercy shown is not done out of love for God primarily, then it is still done out of love for self.

Pride and self are such pernicious things in the soul of man. They turn man to live and do for self and yet blind men to the fact that they are doing all for self. Pride will move us to do an act of righteousness (so-called), yet pride will also blind us to the fact that we are seeking the attention and honor of men in doing what we are doing. Pride also deceives us into thinking and believing that if we have done something good, then we are good. Pride will blind us to our motives in the external acts of good and then convince us that we must love God because we are doing these things. Our pride will convince us that if we love God by doing what we do, then assuredly God loves us as well. While it certainly appears that many are deceived by that chain or proud-hearted reasoning, it is deadly to the eternal welfare of souls. Pride leads us to doing acts of righteousness and thinking we are converted because of them. The scribes and the Pharisees were deceived by that, and it appears that many are today as well.

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