Religious Pride and Deception 16

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.

It appears that one of the hardest things for men to see is that the works that they do that are not truly out of love for God are works that their pride will use to distinguish themselves before men. That pride in works for honor for men will be turned to be a way for men to trust in self for salvation. This is such a great danger and can be seen as a major problem in religious things (and others) for all of history. Men will trust in their self-righteous works and think that God is pleased. The problem is with the heart of man and how the proud heart trusts in self and will always view self in the best possible light. When the proud heart of a self-righteous man finds a minister who supports a person’s self-righteousness, that proud heart is confirmed in its self-righteousness and that proud confidence trusts in self-righteousness all the way to eternal flames. Oh how so many are trapped in self-righteousness because of their own proud hearts and because of ministers who will not preach to expose those proud and deceived hearts.

The great error of the scribes and Pharisees was not limited to just one thing, but actually more of a few things that combined into proud hearts deceiving themselves. These are things that are ways for men to damn themselves at all period of time, but also in the modern day as well. The heart that is so proud that it will practice acts of righteousness in order to be seen by others and think that it is serving God in doing so is a heart that is given to other acts of deception as well. The proud heart (as seen in Jeremiah 8 above) will twist Scripture in order to keep its pride. The proud heart will water down the standards of God that it can keep them in its own natural strength. But when that proud heart waters the standards of God down, that proud heart may still make the standards hard so that it may distinguish itself in keeping them. That proud heart, then, has become its own standard.

While it is the case that proud hearts will twist the Scriptures and come up with doctrines that are false and moral standards that are low, the proud heart can also be proud of creeds of orthodoxy and stringent standards of morality. The proud heart can distinguish itself by being conservative and moral. The proud heart can be proud of how orthodox it is and how much it stands of conservative morality. The proud heart can be proud of how few there are who hold to the old paths and old ways and that it is one of the few. While Scripture does indeed give us lists of immoral acts and tells us that people who live like that are unconverted, it spends more time on those who trust in themselves that they are righteous. It is not enough for men to be conservative in their beliefs and moral in their actions, they must have new hearts and have Christ as their life.

The proud heart will deceive itself into thinking that because it believes belief X (X standing for any belief that a person may be trusting in) that what belief X describes is true of self. The Lord Jesus Christ declared that no one could see or enter the kingdom unless that person was born again. So people hear that and their proud hearts conclude that because they believe that is true that it must be true of them. But this is a great deception. Jesus did not say that all who believe that a person must be born again to see or enter the kingdom will enter the kingdom, but that a person must actually be born again. The glorious teaching of Scripture on justification by grace alone through faith alone also suffers in the hands of a proud heart. The Scriptures do not teach us that all who believe that justification by grace alone through faith alone is true are justified, but instead the Scriptures teach us that God sovereignly chooses whom to give grace to and justify. The proud heart wants to think that it is justified because it believes the doctrine is true, but that is not what the Scriptures teach. It says that the soul must be actually justified by grace alone.

Many are deceived by their proud hearts into thinking that because they believe that Christ died on the cross that they are saved. But again, Scripture does not teach that just because a person believes in the historical fact that Christ died on the cross that a person is saved. The devils believe that and are not saved. But instead the proud heart must be humbled and self-righteousness must be torn from the grasping hand of a proud heart that it may truly look to Christ alone for faith and all things. Indeed the blood of Christ is all that can wash a sinner’s sin away, but that must happen in reality rather than a person simply think it happened because his or her proud heart believes (in some way) that it is true. Oh how the proud heart that grasps at self-righteousness can delude itself into so many things. How we must seek the Lord for humbled hearts.

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