Religious Pride and Deception 38

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.

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.

Mat 6:5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6 “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

The scribes and the Pharisees were given to prayer, though perhaps not real prayer, but they were given to what they thought of as prayer. The nature of pride and of false teachers deceive us as to the things that are vital for true Christianity, and that is not limited to doctrine but instead reaches to the practices as well. Oh how the religious elite of that day led people astray in doctrine, including the nature of salvation, but also in things like Bible study and prayer. But of course it should also be stated that doctrine is so vital that it influences all the other things.

Why did the scribes and Pharisees love to pray? They loved to pray in order to be seen by men. It seems as if they would stand on street corners and stand there and pray so that men would honor them as holy and righteous. We scoff at them today and know that we would never do anything like that, but perhaps it is not so far-fetched after all. When we are asked to pray in a meeting of the church whether on a Sunday service or a home study, do we pray from a heart seeking God or do we pray with our mind and heart concerned about what others are thinking of us? Do we really desire to pray to God or do we desire for others to think of us as a man or woman of prayer? Do we want to impress others with out theologically correct prayers?

When men are seeking the honor and attention of men when they “pray”, they obtain everything their heart desires in the prayer. They desire the honor and attention of men and that is all they get. God does not hear such a filthy heart that is full of pride, self, and idols, but instead He sees the prayer as the fruit of a proud heart. God opposes the proud and as such He opposes the prayers of the proud. When proud men pray they will get God to move, but they get God to move in opposition to them and their abominable pride.

I Timothy 4:7 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8 for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

There are several works out on the so-called Spiritual Disciplines. I would argue that prayer is not something that can possibly happen by self-discipline, but instead it can only come by grace and grace alone. We do not deserve to pray and commune with the living God. If we can pray based on our work of disciplining ourselves, then we can obtain grace by our works. The text clearly tells us to discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness, but the word for “discipline” is not what we think of it in the modern day. It is the idea of training ourselves. We are also told in the text that “bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things.” The text is clearly making a distinction between an outward discipline and an inner way of godliness. But in the modern day men write and think that we must discipline our bodies in order to pray. No, the discipline means that we are to be trained for godliness rather than force the body to do external prayers. Those external prayers lead us to more pride and blindness. Instead of that, we should seek the Lord for humility and love for Him (true godliness) that He may teach us to pray and work in our hearts the grace of prayer. Deception abounds.

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