Religious Pride and Deception 32

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.

The study of the Bible is not just a matter of plugging in the right helps, reading the right commentaries, and then having the right information. That is the method of the scribes and Pharisees. The study of the Bible must have as the goal the illumination of the Spirit, beholding the glory of God in the face of Christ, and then living and doing all to the glory of God. The study of the Bible should not be so that man may gain knowledge to impress self, others, or even God. The study of Scripture cannot be done in accordance with the nature of God and man unless it is done in a spiritual manner. Worship is not true worship apart from being in spirit and truth, so Bible study is not done properly unless it is done in worship and also in spirit and truth. While academics has its place, academic study can be done and done successfully by unbelievers. Surely they don’t have a spiritual understanding.

Jesus told us that apart from Him we can do nothing. Paul prayed for others that they could have understanding but that given by illumination. Paul also taught that “a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (I Cor 2:14). The natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, which should make it very clear that teachers who are not Christian (despite their professions) do not really understand Scripture. We can also know that holiness is necessary to see God and understand Him, but that is not taught either. The scribes and Pharisees were very learned men but they did not accept the things of the Spirit of God and they were not holy. Instead, in their pride they acted as if they were God and could open up spiritual truths at their mere pleasure. In our day we tend to trust in scholars and academics to teach us when that is precisely what was going on in the days of Israel when they were so far from the truth.

One way God opposes the proud is by hiding spiritual truth from them and turning them over to a mind that is caught up with the natural. This is also true of so much modern preaching. It may give the facts of the situation, but it never goes beyond that. It may give truthful facts of the situation in accordance with a method of interpretation that gives them facts, but it does not open the things of God to the people. Until a man is spending time with God (really) and is seeking understanding into the things of God from God, a man will do little more (if at all) than repeat natural facts that the natural man can understand. Until a man is seeking God and hungering after knowing God from an utter dependence on Him rather than his commentaries, that man will not truly preach Christ and Christ alone. That man will not understand the true nature of the cross nor of Christ.

The average person in the pew (whatever that is and whatever that may mean) is told to read and study the Bible, but they are not told how to study the Bible. They are not given any more instruction on studying the Bible than would help the unconverted person do so. What is necessary for a true study of Scripture is to understand that we must know God and we must see our own hearts and sin. We must be granted repentance from a controlling pride in order to see our own pride and sin and then to see something of the glory of God. This is to say that to really study the Bible a person must study his or her own heart and seek to see and understand the glory of God shining in the face of Christ. A true study of Scripture is far beyond academics and involves the person studying to come into the presence of the living God. Since God hates pride, a person must be turned from pride to study the Bible in truth. Since we must love God in order to see Him, we must be turned from pride in order to love Him and seek Him in our studies out of love. The tentacles of pride ruin preaching and Bible study. Humility, on the other hand, must be at the heart of both.

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