Religious Pride and Deception 21

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: 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.

The problem with the scribes and Pharisees (as seen in verse 23) was not that they were overly scrupulous at all times and at all points, but that they would do the easier things and neglect what was even more important, though indeed the more important things were far harder to do and costlier as well. The scribes and the Pharisees longed to be seen as holy and righteous men and sought the honor of men for what they did. However, that honor they sought was obtained by tithing in an exact way their vegetables and herbs. That did not cost much at all. It is easier to give things than to give of self. It is easier to give things that matter little than it is to die to self and pride.

What can cost a lot in terms of personal convenience and finances, however, is the area that the scribes and Pharisees fell short in. They were not as convinced that they should seek justice, mercy, and faithfulness. There is no cost to pride and self to give herbs and vegetables, but in order to seek justice a person must die to self and pride in order to seek true justice. In order to seek true justice it must be more important than pride and self or one will not seek true justice at all times and in all ways. Self and the interests of self will come in and blind the soul to justice and it will turn the soul with many self-justifications to seek self rather than justice. Pride will seek to justify self and seek the interests of self rather than seek true justice. Pride will want to appear good when one person in an issue is rich and powerful and the other is poor and helpless, but love for God and true justice will require a person to seek justice regardless of who the people are.

The living God is full of mercy and is merciful to His people and to sinners. However, the scribes and the Pharisees were not as interested in mercy as they were in keeping some of the minutiae of the laws that they had come up with themselves. They were interested in self and the things of self in terms of following laws which enabled them to make excuses to get out of doing what mercy would call for (an important part of the law) and of doing anything that would cost them money. True mercy flows from true love and wants to help those in misery who cannot help themselves, but the religion of the Pharisees was to help themselves and to hate their enemies rather than to help the miserable and love their enemies. Jesus called for humbled and broken hearts and the things that would flow from them, but the Pharisees were proud and hard of heart and so did not pursue Christ and the things that would come from hearts that He required.

Jesus pronounced a woe upon the scribes and Pharisees because they would tithe in a scrupulous manner as the law required, but they would not do the greater things that the law required. Jesus required faith and faithfulness, but the Pharisees did not have faith in anyone but themselves and they were only faithful to themselves and their passion for money and honor among men. True faith in God and faithfulness to Him requires that people seek His face and to honor Him rather than to honor self. Out of seeking His honor and glory before others rather than self one will seek to be just and show mercy. But the scribes and Pharisees were focused on self and the things of self rather than God and the things of God. Religious pride leads to the deception of self and others. Humility bows low before God and looks to the strength of grace to do what He requires in order to glorify Him and does not water it down in order to be proud of self.

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