Religious Pride and Deception 17

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 23:2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; 13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. 23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26 “You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,

In the passage in Matthew 23 we see the very heart of the scribes and Pharisees as Jesus takes them to task for their false and proud religion. He exposes it for what it is and exposes them for what they were. The truth of the matter is that He also exposes every human heart as well. Each human being has something in it that is like the scribes and Pharisees. How proud the human heart is by nature, though that natural pride is often hidden underneath civility and niceness. How proud the human heart is of its intellect, its morality, its religiosity, and of any other thing that it thinks can distinguish it from others. The proud heart thinks that it has done what it has done and does what it does by its own strength, smarts, morality, and endeavors.

In verses 2-3 we see the great dangers of those who trust in church leaders and false theology. Those who trust in church leaders can be seen by millions who trust in popes, cardinals, and priests to tell them what the Bible says and to give them grace in the sacraments. While it is true that God has given the Church leaders, He has not given it rulers who are to be trusted in. He has given it teachers and leaders who are to point to Christ. This is why leaders must be humble rather than proud. A proud leader will use the position to point to himself and will exalt in the power and attention. A proud leader will use his position to obtain money and seek more authority. A proud leader will seek self in all he does and use the name of God to do so. The proud leader takes the set of Moses (teacher and leader) and think of himself and his position as a way to exalt his wisdom and learning. The proud leader, on the other hand, may be blinded by pride to his pride and even deceive himself into thinking that he is humble. When the proud person takes pride in his humility, oh how dangerous that man is.

What the proud leader does not care to notice, however, is that Moses was the most humble man on earth (Numbers 12:3). A man who takes the chair of Moses should be more like Moses in humility than the devil in pride. The humble leader recognizes who he really is and so he seeks the Lord in prayer for wisdom and more humility. The humble leader recognizes the pride in his heart and labors against it. The humble leader seeks the Lord for understanding of the Scriptures because there is no one else who can give it to him. The humble leader seeks the true good of the flock as opposed to his own exaltation. The humble leader seeks the humble Christ to live in him and manifest His glory through him.

A huge problem with proud leaders is that in their pride there is blindness and in that blindness of pride they will twist the Scriptures and give the people false ways of salvation and/or how to please God. This is exactly what the scribes and Pharisees did. They were blinded by their pride and so set out ways of salvation and of seeking God for themselves and were ways to exalt their pride rather than ways to save them. Those ways were set out for the people as well and as such those ways kept the people from seeking the Lord in truth. It is true that proud men deceive themselves, but proud men deceive others as to the Gospel of grace alone as well. God opposes the proud, most certainly, and one way He does that is by blinding the proud to the Gospel and of grace. Apart from grace alone there is no Gospel and the proud are blinded to that. As the scribes and Pharisees were blinded to the true Gospel of grace alone in their day, so are so many blinded to the Gospel of grace alone in our day. Yes, there are many who manage to bring a work or works into the Gospel, but there are also those who cry up free grace and have no clue as to what the grace of God really is and how it works. There is great danger in pride for all on the earth, but pride in the professing Church is so wicked and dangerous. Oh how men should seek the Lord to show them their pride that they may be delivered from deception themselves and then from deceiving others.

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