Religious Pride and Deception 20

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 some denominations evangelism is considered to be a sign of salvation and the greatest work that a person can do. People who are not trained and have no theology at all are sent out to evangelize. Others will stand on the streets preaching through various instruments which project their voices calling people to say a prayer and make a choice. It seems to matter little whether a person believes in a confession or a creed or not, evangelism is thought to be what spiritual people do. It would appear from the text above that the scribes and Pharisees thought much the same thing as well.

When we look at the matter of evangelism, there are but a few approaches that can be taken. In fact, there are only two approaches (broadly speaking) that can be taken. There is the approach that teaches men that they can do something and then there is the approach that teaches men that God must do something. While there are similarities between the two in many ways, the reality of the matter is that they are vastly, vastly different. The approach that focuses on man and teaches man that he must do something essentially leaves man in his own power and ability. The approach that focuses on teaching men that they are in the hands of God and that He must do something attempts to show men that they are in the hands of God at all points and in all ways.

Those who go to great efforts at missions and evangelism and yet leave men in their own hands are going to have a lot of false results and will actually be doing just what the scribes and Pharisees did. They will make men twice the sons of hell as they are. The devil is proud and self-sufficient, so he is always working that in his children whether they are religious or not. The devil wants his destiny to be in his own hands and so he works that in his own children. The devil wants to do things his own way and make his own choices, so he works that in his own children. This is precisely what those forms of evangelism did in the days of the scribes and Pharisees and that is precisely what that form of evangelism does today. It leaves all the power and ability in men and tells them that they are sufficient to do what God wants them to do. In other words, it leaves men with the same fallen nature that they had and simply tries to make them religious. A man can be the most religious person in the world and yet apart from a new heart that person is as vile as anyone on the planet if not more so.

True evangelism does not look to have great numbers and does not look for particular results that can be seen by men. True evangelism teaches men that God must change their hearts if they are to be converted. As Jesus taught Nicodemus in John 3, a person must be born from above (again) if that person is going to see or enter the kingdom. Who can cause this new birth? It is God alone by His Spirit who can do this. Who alone can work a new work of creation and make men new creatures in Christ? It is God and God alone. True evangelism points men to God who alone can give them new hearts and make them new creatures. False evangelism points men to their own choices and wills and so men are left to their fallen natures to become religious according to those fallen natures. This is to say that men become more and more like the devil as they become more and more reliant upon self and pride to be religious. False evangelism makes men like the scribes and Pharisees in that they persuade men to trust in themselves and their own religion rather than look to the Sovereign God to save them by grace alone.

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