Archive for the ‘Religious Pride and Deception’ Category

Religious Pride and Deception 40

March 12, 2015

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 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. 7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

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.

If we could imagine what it would be like to view those who arrive at the “pearly gates” clothed in what they see as their near perfect morality and thinking that they were prayer warriors. We can imagine (in a sense) what it would be for them for the light to shine in and on them and for them to see that all their prayers (each and every one) were works of the flesh and as filthy rags. Can we really imagine what it would be like for them to realize that all that they thought of as righteousness was nothing but casting logs upon their eternal fire? Is it the case that so many in our professing churches are doing that to some degree? Are men and women being stripped of all their righteousness that they may be naked and helpless in the arms of sovereign grace alone? If not, then vast numbers of people are trusting that their prayers make them acceptable (whether or not they would say that or not) while all they are doing is increasing the torment of their own damnation.

Jesus instructed His disciples not to be like the hypocrites. This means that there were hypocrites in that day. Later on in the Sermon on the Mount (the very next chapter, 7), Jesus taught the people this:

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

If we apply this teaching of Jesus to prayer, it should alarm us and move us to look in our own hearts to see our true loves and motives in prayer and in all we do. Many people start off their praying by addressing either the Father or Son as “Lord.” It is not enough to say “Lord” in prayer or for any other reason, but instead it is vital to do the will of the Father who is in heaven. This is to say that regardless of whether a person is orthodox or not or if a person prays a lot, a person must do the will of the Father which is seen as one as a new heart and so will enter. It is not the doing of His will that allows one to enter, but instead that is by grace alone. But only those with grace will do the will of the Father and so enter.

Men will point out that they preached or that they cast out demons or that they did miracles in His name. It should be noted that Charismatics should take great warning there too. Preaching, casting out demons, and performing miracles are not infallible signs that a person is converted. One can do all of those things under the influence of demons and without true love. Prayer can be done for many motives and many reasons, but apart from a new heart a person’s prayers are lawlessness. A prayer apart from love for God with the whole heart is a violation of the Greatest Commandment and as such a violation of each of the Ten Commandments as well. It is vital that we pray in truth and love and in the name of Christ (in truth and not just in words) or our prayers will be the basis for our torments in hell. Oh how the proud and self-righteous are so deceived about religion.

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Religious Pride and Deception 39

March 11, 2015

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 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. 7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

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.

The hypocrites that Jesus was speaking about were those who would pray in order to be seen by men, but also those who thought they would be heard because of their many words. Prayer is not having a long list and saying words to God about it, nor is it having a short list and praying many times with many words over it. Prayer is communing with God in worship seeking His glory and honor in all things. Bodily discipline has little or nothing to do with prayer. Prayer is from the heart or the depths of the soul. We cannot discipline ourselves for prayer if we think of discipline as what soldiers do or athletes do. No, the word for “discipline” means to train naked. The idea is to train without anything encumbering you or hindering you.

The idea of disciplining our bodies to pray is the same idea of soldiers who act with fierce self-discipline to carry out commands. I would argue that discipline like that destroys any true idea of prayer. If we are to worship in spirit and truth, then surely prayer as worship must be done in spirit and truth. We must not settle for prayer that is built on the same principles as the scribes and Pharisees, but instead we must have prayer built on inward things like love and adoration and reverence for God. We must have prayer that comes from grace in the soul rather than strong acts of discipline of the flesh. We must have hearts of love for God rather than disciplines bodies that utter words. We must have broken hearts that seek for God to give us a spirit of prayer rather than steel wills that utter words and then think we are righteous for saying them.

The proud person is one that may be able pray at the drop of a hat with orthodox words and perhaps some intensity as well, but a proud heart is detested by God and those external prayers are not true prayers in the eyes of God. A proud heart cannot truly pray because God will not give grace to the proud heart. But again, a proud person can do many things like the priests of Baal did and “pray” for hours and hours, but that does nothing but give the person more pride in his flesh which is a deception. There is more true prayer in the man in the New Testament who said “I believe, help my unbelief” than all the proud prayers of the flesh of all men in history. The one who truly prays is the one who is a beggar before the throne of grace and comes without pride or desire for the attention of other men. The true prayer is when the one praying seeks God and His glory out of love.

This may sound a bit too mystical for some, but I would argue that it is simply biblical. We can do nothing (spiritual or good) apart from Christ working it in us, so why do we think we can pray apart from Christ? Why do we think that we can seek the Lord apart from the fruit of the Spirit in our hearts? Do we really think that we can pray in truth and love from the depths of our souls for God to hallow and glorify His name unless He has worked that love and desire in our souls? It may be that the Lord’s Prayer does not just tell us what to pray for, but the kind of heart we need in order to pray for those things. But the proud heart does not see how much grace it needs in order to truly pray and so it is satisfied with words. That is to be deceived.

Religious Pride and Deception 38

March 10, 2015

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.

Religious Pride and Deception 37

March 9, 2015

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 pride of man in the things of nature is so bad that man is blinded in coming to religion and thinking that he can find ways to please God and work for his own salvation. Man will use the things that God has set forth to be used as a way of seeking Him and His glory. Past posts have looked at Scripture and how a proud heart uses Scripture for self and the exaltation of self, but now we will turn to prayer and try to look at how man uses prayer with wicked intents and motivations rather than as ways to seek God.

The Lord’s Prayer (as set out in Matthew 6) teaches us that we are to come to the Lord and our very first petition is for His name to be hallowed. In light of the Great Commandment to love God with all of our being, we should see that we are to love God with all of our being in prayer and seek with the love of our heart for His name to be hallowed and glorified. But instead, what do we see or hear?

We see others and hear ourselves praying (so to speak) for self-centered things rather than God-centered things.
We see others and hear ourselves seeking the things of the world.
We see others and hear ourselves praying out of love for self.
We see others and hear ourselves praying in a way to obtain honor and glory for self.
We see others and hear ourselves praying in a way to get people to admire us for how we pray.
We see others and hear ourselves praying in a way to obtain righteousness before God.
We see others and hear ourselves praying for ourselves rather than for His glory and honor.
We see others and hear ourselves seeking things from Him rather than Himself.
We see others and hear ourselves praying in way as if from a list rather than the heart.
We see others and hear ourselves praying in a way where our heart is far removed from Him
We see others and hear ourselves seeking things for others that are from the world rather than what is truly good.
We see others and hear ourselves seeking for others to be physically healed rather than spiritually strengthened.
We see others and hear ourselves seeking financially blessings far more (if at all) than spiritual blessings.
We see others and hear ourselves seeking ourselves rather than God.
We see others and hear ourselves praying as if teaching God rather than seeking Him to teach us.
We see others and hear ourselves praying as if instructing God how to act rather than asking Him for grace.
We see others and hear ourselves praying as if God needs us rather than our utter need of Him.
We see others and hear ourselves praying as if salvation depended on man’s decision rather than God’s grace.
We see others and hear ourselves praying as if sanctification depended on us rather than on God.
We see others and hear ourselves praying as if the well-being of the church depended on things rather than God.

If the Scriptures are extremely clear (and they are) that true prayer is to seek God and His glory, then what is it when man seeks himself, the things of self, religious honor, and myriads of other things rather than God? Our prayers (so-called) demonstrate proud hearts. Our prayers put our self-seeking on display in ways nothing else will. We know the real desires of our hearts, if we take the time to look, despite the words of our lips. Do we really think that God cannot see our pride when we desire something in our hearts and yet say right words toward Him?

Religious Pride and Deception 36

March 8, 2015

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.

Pride is that awful twisting in the soul that drives man to serve and do all he does out of self-exaltation and self-love. The heart that is not changed by God will take religion and use it to serve self and pride as well in the name of God. Religion and the practices of religion are used by the unregenerate person to serve self and seek to exalt self. When the Spirit brings conviction of sin, however, man begins to see that his very self and self-love are the root of the problem. It is not that man is not religious enough or that he is not devoted enough; it is that he is too given over to the world or to religion for the sake of self.

In previous BLOGS it is clear from I Corinthians 8:1 that knowledge will puff a person up. So the worldly man is proud of his knowledge of worldly things and the religious man is proud of his knowledge of religious things. In both cases, it is self and pride. The worldly man seeks advantages and the exaltation of self using worldly things and the religious man seeks advantages and the exaltation of self using religious things. We must be careful with our own hearts and pray for God to open up our hearts that we can see our true loves and motives.

As a particular instance there are religious people who spend hours and hours memorizing Scripture. The proud heart will try to gain honor for self or spiritual wealth for its work in memorizing Scripture. It sounds so spiritual and it sounds so religious to memorize large portions of Scripture, but it can also be done out of pride and self-love. Not only is that true, memorizing Scripture can be very dangerous. We cannot memorize Scripture without having a certain view or even interpretation of it. If we memorize Scripture with a wrong interpretation, we are memorizing error and will be using Scripture to support that error. The proud and selfish heart will go to great lengths to gain honor for itself or seek to exalt itself in its own eyes, but that very pride will blind a person to the true meaning of Scripture. Memorizing error is a very dangerous thing.

John 8:37 “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 40 “But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. 43 “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. 45 “But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. 47 “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”

What we must have is to have a humble Teacher and Savior to teach us in our inner man. The most religious people of Jesus’ day sought to kill Him because His word and no place in them. They wanted to kill Him and sought to kill Him because He told them the truth, though they had their own interpretations that came from their proud hearts and traditions to refute Him. These men could not understand what Jesus taught them because they could not hear His word, which of course is a spiritual understanding. Because Jesus spoke true and even a spiritual truth they did not believe Him and since they were not of God (but of self) they didn’t and wouldn’t hear. A proud heart will not listen to truth because it is true and that is because a proud heart is so wrong. A proud heart will not listen to the humble Savior because it crosses all that they have done and that includes their pride. It takes humility to study Scripture and it takes a humble Teacher to teach us humility and truth in our inward parts.

Religious Pride and Deception 35

March 7, 2015

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.

If it is the case that pride blinds the soul from the truth of the Scriptures and the nature of God, then it is not enough to teach people the facts and nothing but the facts. It is not enough to give people information and leave that alone. If it is the case that pride blinds yet pride in religious things is a worse form of blindness, then religious things should be used very carefully and all people should seek to be given grace to be rid of pride as they would the very worst of disease. If it is the case that religious pride not only just blinds people to the truth of the Scriptures and of the nature of God, but in fact religious pride is a terrible deception, then people are in a terrible bondage who are in the bonds of religious pride. Religious pride will spoil and ruin all positive steps, but it will also send people down a spiraling staircase into the very depths of deception and then hell.

A man can be orthodox, a scholar, a minister, an elder or whatever and still be blinded by religious pride. A man can be all of the things in the previous sentence and spend hours and hours in his study every day and do nothing but deepen his blindness and deception. Pride is so insidious that the things that are most used to increase knowledge and spirituality are also used to deepen a person’s blindness and deception. The more a blind and deceived man reads the Bible for knowledge and information (as opposed to seeking God), the more blind and deceived that person will be. Reading the Bible for knowledge and information will puff that person up and blind them to the real truth which is the glory of God in the face of Christ.

In former BLOGS on this subject I Corinthians 8:1 was brought up. It tells us that knowledge puffs up and makes arrogant, which shows us why reading the Bible for knowledge and information (rather than seeking the Lord) will blind us to the real truth. It seems to be rather simple in the basic teaching of Scripture that God opposes the proud, so God will oppose the goals and ends of the proud when they are studying Scripture for reasons of pride. Interestingly enough, as Scripture tells us in Psalm 115:8, those who make idols become like them. Those who do things out of pride (idol of self) become more and more proud. The study of the Bible while in possession of a proud heart and a desire to gain knowledge of it is nothing more than an act of pride and God opposes that as He does all the proud. An effort to use holy things for the exaltation of self does not make pride better, but instead it is far worse.

Study that is academic or an effort to gain knowledge for the sake of self is simply a proud way that leads to errors of the proud or a studied error. A proud heart wants to believe what it has taken time and effort to come up with, but if it is not gained from the teaching of Christ in the inward man it will blind the person to the truth. It may be the case that the more we study from pride the blinder we will be in our studies. Very learned and intelligent men can spend their lives in the study of the Bible (as did the Pharisees) and simply do nothing but become more and more proud not to mention being hardened in their errors.

A proud man remains proud unless God turns his heart and that man becomes like a child. Even if a proud man becomes very religious, that man will be proud in the things of religion. We must always keep in mind that the degrees a person holds and the amount of time a person spends in study does not mean that they know God and know Scripture in truth, but instead it may mean that the person is becoming more and more proud and full of self. The world sets a premium on learning, but God sets a premium on those who know Him. The Scriptures do not tell us that eternal life is in knowing about God, but in knowing God. We must study Scripture as creatures who should seek the Lord in order to know Him and glorify Him rather than seek them to exalt ourselves.

Religious Pride and Deception 34

March 6, 2015

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.

While the lying pen of the scribes makes the law of God a lie in certain ways, pride that blinds and self-love and self-focus will also turn the law of God into something it is not. One does not have to actually change the words to change the Word of God into a lie, but by changing the meaning of words and making the text say something it does not one can also change the Word of God into a lie. Pride will deal with the text of Scripture in a way that is advantageous for self rather than what the text says. Pride will preserve its pride by changing the meaning of the text with the excuse that the text cannot mean what it appears to say. Pride will change the text so that pride can keep what is said so that it can maintain pride even when the text commands things that cannot be done by man apart from the strength of grace. It takes a humble heart or a heart seeking humility and God to deal with Scripture as it should be dealt with.

Pride is what men and women are born with since the fall and so they want to be as God judging Scripture by themselves rather than having Scripture be the revelation of God and His glory. How our proud hearts want others to exalt us rather than God for our profound knowledge of Scripture. At times we are willing to be thought of as sinners and even bad ones in certain circles as long as we are thought to have great knowledge and to have people think of us as humble. But the human heart is so wicked, even when it appears kind, good, and nice, that it thinks of self rather than God and wants honor for self rather than God. The Scriptures are the revelation of the true God and when the proud human heart that wants to as God is reading and interpreting Scripture, it will change the truth of Scripture to make it more like itself rather than be a reflection of His glory.

Pride is that drives men and women to change the text of many, many Scriptures, Matthew 18:1-4 (above) included. It is the proud heart that does not think that it really needs to be turned (converted) by God, but instead it thinks that it can turn itself as far as is needed. But of course the proud heart fails to see or is blind to the fact that it is its very pride and it is the very self that must be turned. The proud heart will not only think that it can change itself, but it thinks that humility is in its own power and so thinks that it is great or that it can attain greatness in that way. Pride, then, is a horrible power and attitude in the human heart that is at enmity with the true God and the true Scriptures. Pride wants to retain the love of self and to be its own god while interpreting Scripture and in life as a whole. Pride wants to be able to be saved and retain its pride. Pride does not want to face the fact that it is pride and self that a person must be turned from and saved from.

Jesus told one of the most religious groups in His time on earth that they were mistaken in that they did not understand the Scriptures or the power of God. They challenged Jesus Himself on the basis of their misunderstanding. The same is true at any point in human history. Proud man changes Scripture or misinterprets Scripture and then challenges the truth with his profound error. Proud man does not understand the true nature of God and yet will challenge others based on his own misunderstanding. Pride blinds men to who they are and to the nature of God and the truth of Scripture. Proud man walks in great error in all of his ways and yet may think that he is walking in truth. The horrors that pride has brought to humanity is beyond human calculation, yet each person loves self in pride and interprets all things according to self and the refusal of self to give up its pride. Oh how pride is such a great power in the soul that it takes a Divine power to cast it out. How dangerous is the proud heart in thinking it is sufficient in its own power to study Scripture and fulfill it in its own strength.

Religious Pride and Deception 33

March 5, 2015

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.

Religious Pride and Deception 32

March 4, 2015

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.

Religious Pride and Deception 31

March 3, 2015

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.

For some reason (pride) it is far easier for us to judge the scribes and Pharisees than it is to see that we do the same things they did, though perhaps in different ways. It is easier to look back in history and see how the scribes had abused the Scriptures and had made the law into a lie (in appearance). It is easier to see that in doing so the scribes were only dealing with people in a very superficial way, which is to say that they were only dealing with the external aspects as they interpreted them, that it is to see how those things are being done today. It is easier to see how the scribes were using their false interpretation of the law and went around crying ‘peace, peace’ when there was no peace than seeing that in practice today.

In one sense it is easier to think of those things happening in history because if that same sort of thing is rampant today, “I” may be deceived as well. But the reason that so many appear deceived today is because of they only want to deal with the externals of things and because of their own pride. Things have not changed. The scribes and Pharisees came to develop religious rituals over time that they thought demonstrated that they were right, but instead those things were demonstrative evidence that they were wrong. Before the Reformation Rome had developed an elaborate scheme of salvation and “Christian” living for themselves and the people, but all they did was to repeat what the scribes and Pharisees had done. The scribes and Pharisees, the Roman Catholics before the Reformation (and after), and now the many of our day were blinded by their own pride and so deceived that their religious actions were pleasing to God.

There are many ways and rituals in our day that at least parallel both the scribes and Pharisees and the Roman Catholics. Whenever someone comes up with things we have to do and ways to approach God based on what we do, we can know that they are on the wrong track. Now it is true that many of these things are biblical in terms of the action, but it takes grace to perform an action to please God and nothing we do can earn grace from God. We should read and study the Bible, but let us not think that those things please God and that by doing them we will necessarily grown in the faith. The scribes and Pharisees studied their Bibles and memorized them far more than we will ever do, but it did nothing but increase their pride rather than their pleasing God.

John 5:39 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;

Matthew 23:5 “But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.

The Pharisees were masters of searching the Scriptures (Bible study) but they did not find the truth. It is only grace that can open the eyes of the soul and enable men and women to behold Christ. The Pharisees thought that they could find eternal life in the Scriptures, but instead they missed what the Scriptures really pointed them to and that was Christ. The Pharisees would even put things on their garments pointing to how many Scriptures that they had memorized. But do we do anything like that in our day? Do we think we are spiritual because we study the Bible, read the Bible, and memorize portions of it? The Pharisees did that and thought they were spiritual. Could it be that many are following the ways of the Pharisees and are also missing eternal life in our day? Pride and more pride.