Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | May 25, 2018

“Watch out and beware of the leaven (teaching) of the Pharisees” – “A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.”

Today’s devotion comes from Matthew 16:1-12.  Here is a link to this Scripture – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+16&version=NASB

I quote only the following verses.

“And the disciples came to the other side of the sea, but they had forgotten to bring any bread.  And Jesus said to them, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”  They began to discuss this among themselves, saying, “He said that because we did not bring any bread.”  But Jesus, aware of this, said, “You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread?  Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets full you picked up?  Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many large baskets full you picked up?  How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?  But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”  Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”  Matthew 16:5-12.

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The Pharisees were legalistic.  They were more interested in the letter of the law than the spirit of the law.  They were more interested in proving their own righteousness than seeking the righteousness of God.

“Then some Pharisees and scribes *came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders?  For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”  And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?  For God said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,’ and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH.’  But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,” he is not to honor his father or his mother.’  And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.  You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:

‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS,
BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.
‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’”  Matthew 15:1-9.

The Pharisees superficially appeared religious and admirable.  If people did not beware of their teaching, they could be sucked into copying their doctrine and practice and faith in their own righteousness.  “A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.”  Galatians 1:9.  In other words, a little caving into the Pharisees’ doctrine and practice and faith in their own righteousness would lead to a total transformation to their doctrine and practice and faith in their own righteousness.

“Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.  And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law.  You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law;  you have fallen from grace.  For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.”  Galatians 5:2-5.

So, beware of the teaching of the Pharisees!  There are Pharisees around us today.  Jesus’ warning was not only for His disciples two thousand years ago.

“For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor.  For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.  I have been crucified with Christ;  and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;  and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.  I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”  Galatians 2:18-21.


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