Religious Pride and Deception 33

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.

Matthew 22:29 But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God.

The Sadducees (who denied the resurrection as liberals do today) came to Jesus (context of Matthew 22:29) asking about a man who married a woman and then died. A brother married the woman and then he died. This continued on for seven brothers. The Sadducees were clearly trying to trap Jesus, but the question had to do with whose wife the woman would be in the resurrection. Jesus, who as always was not winsome and gracious (as they want all to be all the time today) to people like that, went straight to the point. The real problem was that these men were mistaken and they were mistaken because they did not understand the Scriptures or the power of God.

Whether a person is conservative to the extreme or an extreme liberal or anything in between, the real issue with all people is that they are full of self and pride (Gen 3:5) and do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God. In one sense Bible study is quite simple. A humble person can be easily taught of the Spirit the things of God. The problem, however, is for a person to become humble. Pride will distort our ability to understand or even the possibility of understanding Scripture and it distorts our views of God and of self. The pride we have by nature is bad enough, but religious pride is even worse. Religious pride comforts us and settles us in heresy about God because we trust in ourselves, scholarship, and our ability to understand the Scriptures.

The Sadducees were quite religious, but they were a Jewish group who denied the resurrection. Did they arrive at that belief from a study of Scripture? It may be that they did arrive at that through a study of Scripture, but the understanding they had did not come from a true understanding of Scripture. Did the Sadducees arrive at their weak view of the power of God by a study of the Scriptures? It may be that they did. But again, if they did arrive at that view it was not from an accurate view of the Scriptures. They then took that view and began to be contentious about it with the Pharisees and others. They even tried to catch and trap Jesus with their faulty view of the Scriptures and logic. They were so proud of their views that they thought they could trip anyone with a bit of logic. But as Jesus said, they did not understand Scripture or the power of God.

True faith is what we understand and “see” God with and pride does not co-exist with faith. A proud person and a natural person (not a spiritual person) cannot understand the truth of God beyond some natural logic. The unbeliever, who is both a natural person and a proud person (though may appear to be humble on the outside), is a person that has no ability to understand the spiritual aspect of the Scriptures and God Himself. Eternal life consists in knowing God (John 17:3) and yet only those who have true faith have eternal life and know God. The unbeliever will always be limited to a natural knowledge of God and cannot understand Him as He really is. The proud person will be puffed up with himself and his own knowledge and perhaps be proud of how much he knows Scripture and God and in that he will be blind to the truth of God and of Scripture.

It is rare to find a person who understands just how proud his or her heart really is. It is rare to find a person who knows that s/he is utterly dependent upon God to understand Himself and the Scriptures. Religious scholars, pastors, and all who take up religion (of any kind, including Christianity) should be warned that they are blind to the true things of God by their pride, but in our day they are not warned. Instead they are given classes and books on how to study the Bible and know things about God. All those things will do until they are broken from their pride will increase their religious pride which is the most deceptive kind of pride there is. The Sadducees were mistaken because they did not understand the Scriptures or the power of God. All in our day who are not broken from their proud hearts and humbled by God are also mistaken and do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God. But like the Sadducees, they are blinded by their proud hearts and think that their natural knowledge is true knowledge which gives them even more pride. Religious pride ruins understanding of the Bible and of God. If we don’t understand those things, Bible study can be a very dangerous thing that blinds and hardens us to the truth.

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