Religious Pride and Deception 19

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,

What we must see from verses 13-15 is that the way we evangelize, whether from the pulpit or from other methods and ways, matters. It is not that we can throw theology out of the window when we evangelize, for if we are wrong in our theology and our Gospel we can shut off the kingdom of heaven from people and be part of making people twice the son of hell as we are (if we are hypocrites). If we are hypocrites, whether we are orthodox or not, then woe to us. If we are hypocrites, whether we have the right creed or not, then woe to us. If we are hypocrites and evangelize in a way that makes people twice the sons of hell as we are, then more woe to us.

Evangelism is a very serious issue and it does not make one a Christian and it does not prove one to be a Christian. In fact, when reading the text above evangelism is a dangerous issue for both those doing the evangelism and those being evangelized. Evangelism, rather than proving that we are Christians, can be demonstrative evidence (for those with eyes to see) that we are not Christians. It seems from the text above that false evangelism can be instrumental in making people twice the sons of hell as those who wrongly evangelize. For the sake of emphasis, it needs to be repeated that we must understand that evangelism is a very serious business.

The Gospel is not an easy message as it requires balance. If one goes off on one side, one is a legalist. If one goes off on the other side, one teaches easy believism. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is indeed a Gospel of grace alone, but it is also a Gospel that requires true repentance and a change of heart. However, it must be clearly stated that it is grace that grants the repentance and it is grace that changes the heart. When evangelism leads to false professions of faith, it will produce either legalists, moralists, or easy believism of some sort. When evangelism is practiced in a false way, it will encourage people to do what God requires in their own strength rather than look to grace alone to do the work.

In a very interesting and important work from years past, it was pointed out that when men are deceived about salvation and come to a form of assurance of their salvation in their deceived state, it is rare for them to come out of that deception. This deception is incredibly dangerous. “Picture to yourself the deceived professor on his death-bed. He fears no evil—even to the last he retains his confidence and remains calm. He dies. It may be, exulting in hope—but where is he? Instead of finding himself in heaven, he is in hell! Instead of mingling with the spirits of the blessed, he is associated with the lost!” (Self-Deception: Its Nature, Evils, and Remedy).

The book from the previous paragraph goes on to show us that we are prone to self-deception because of the state of our own hearts. By nature we are children of wrath and are given to self-reliance and a trust in our fallen nature. While we are dead in sins and trespasses, we are so prone to judge ourselves by those around us rather than the truth of God. In our pride who choose self instead of God and love self rather than God. We want to hear a message where we can retain our sufficiency and control, so we are so prone to deception. But a false gospel that gives false hope can never truly convert souls. Instead of converting souls, false gospels leave sinners in the death and darkness of their own hearts. Those who are in that condition now have religious pride to keep them chained in the dungeon of death and darkness. False evangelism, which builds on the pride and self, is a deadly delusion and it is found in so much religion today.

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