Christians have a tendency to boast about their biblical knowledge and a few other activities they do in church. The Jews too had a similar notion in the days of the apostle Paul. They led a life that was totally opposed to what the scriptures taught, and as a result caused the name of Yahweh (The Lord) to be blasphemed. Our Lord Jesus condemned the practice in Matthew 23:25, 26, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.”
There is nothing wrong in learning the Law of God. In fact, proper knowledge of the Law was good because it defined the identity of the Jewish community in a deep and profound way. They gathered around the law and they were rightly proud of it. The Law gave them security. It enabled them to know God’s moral will, and to approve of what was excellent. In the Roman Empire where people lived under great moral darkness – exploitation was rife, men used their wives to produce children, their mistresses for their daily needs and their prostitutes for fun – the Law of Moses stood out as a shining light against the darkness. The Law always provided the regulations and rules for life, safety and flourishing. In our day, we need to recognise that having pride in any outward ritual, knowledge or comparing ourselves with others, even if totally biblical, is self- deceiving and hypocritical. We cannot find safety and security from our church attendance, partaking of the Lord’s Table, confirmation, baptism or worship forms.
Our knowledge of the word of God can become a dangerous issue of pride that will lead others away from God, if we do not daily humble ourselves and let God change our hearts. God will only be pleased with us when we practise what we preach. It is unacceptable, for instance, for us to slander welfare cheats yet take deductions on our income tax return to which we are not lawfully entitled. Similarly, rebuking pornographers publicly yet vicariously living out other people’s sexual adventures through the media is wrong. Moreover, it is not right to decry the breakdown of the family yet turn to divorce courts when faced with difficult marriage problems.