Religious Pride and Deception 26

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.

Genesis 3:5 “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Matthew 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

In the fall all humanity fell into sin and so became like the devil in that they were full of self and self-sufficiency. Man does not want to be totally dependent on God for anything much less all things. The heart of man opposes God in that man believes in his own free-will and power to carry out what he pleases rather than bowing to the will of God and seeking to carry out (in His strength) what He pleases. Man is willing to let God help him do the things he comes to realize that he cannot do, but man has a fierce pride in his heart and is unwilling to bow in utter nothingness and submit to God doing all things for His own glory.

One of the ways we see (especially in the modern day) that the pen of the scribes has turned the Scriptures from what they really mean and made them lie is in the realm of self-sufficiency. Oh how the proud heart of man resists being brought to almost nothing much less a true nothingness in the presence of God. The Scriptures, however, tell us with great clarity that this must happen. Jesus was quite clear to the apostles who sought honor and distinction that a person must be converted (turned) and become like a small child or that person will not enter the kingdom of heaven. However, the person that humbles himself like that small child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

While one can spend much time meditating or studying on this passage, what is clear is that there must be a change in the heart of a person or that person will perish regardless of how religious s/he is. Jesus was clear in His teaching in the Gospel of John that a person must be born from above (again) or that person could not see or enter the kingdom. The contrast was between those who were born of the flesh and those who were born of the Spirit. In this passage He is teaching that a person must be humbled as a child to enter the kingdom. The contrast is between those who are proud and seek honor and glory for self and those who are humbled as a small child. The conclusion is that true greatness resides with the humble and not the proud who seek great things for self out of pride.

In the modern day it is quite common to hear people speak as if they had low self-esteem and that they hate themselves. On the other hand, it is common to hear people seeking great things for themselves in the religious realms. We also hear pastors and teachers encouraging people to seek religious things for the sake of self. We hear teaching on how we are to find self-fulfillment in Christianity. In fact, however, it is the self that must be denied rather than fulfilled. No one has low self-esteem and no one hates themselves, but instead it people hate things about themselves which is really self-love. If they really hated themselves it would make them happy that they are afflicted with the things they hate about themselves. When person A hates person B, person A is glad when person B has bad things happen. So when person A hates it and is angry when bad things happen to person A, we can easily see that person A does not hate self but instead hates the things that are happening to self.

What should be clear, then, is that so many writers, pastors, and teachers have fallen into false teaching instead of teaching that men and women should be humbled and turned from self. Rather than that they are teaching a false form of Christianity that focuses on the building up of self. Jesus taught that men must die to self daily, yet today many are teaching that we are to build up self. Jesus taught that men must be turned and be humbled as a little child to enter the kingdom, yet there are many today who teach that men should seek self and honor for self in the kingdom. What seems obvious is that pride and self are not longer seen as the problem so that self must go, but instead the problem is (they say) that self is too low and must be built up. This is to twist the Scriptures completely backwards at this point. Pride is the problem rather than a low view of self. Pride wants to deny that it is the problem as well. But Jesus and Paul were entirely too clear for that to fly with those who fight pride and self in a daily battle. It is too clear for those who know that Jesus said that if we want to follow Him we must deny self. How terrible the state of the professing Church is when it twists the truth and content of the teachings of Jesus on such an important point.

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