by The Mad Preacher, Rod Davis
When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:5-6, 11-12)
What were the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees and why did Jesus give such a grave warning? First, here’s a bit of information about these two religious sects. “
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. — Jesus (Matthew 23:23)
The Pharisees were determined to separate themselves from anything, or anyone, that they considered impure. And because of their strict interpretation of the Levitical law, they became legalistic and prideful. Jesus condemned them for being lawyers instead of lovers, for having their emphasis solely on observing the legalistic requirements of the law rather than on meeting the needs of others. They were judged not so much for what they did, but for what they didn’t do. They neglected what Jesus called “the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.” So, Jesus was warning us about the yeast of empty legalism. We’re called us to be lovers not lawyers.
How about the Sadducees? Unlike the Pharisees, they gave no credence to what was called “the oral law,” that is the traditional teachings of the elders that’s included in the Torah. They considered the written law alone to be the only divine authority. That was a good approach to God’s word. However, Sadducees embraced a very liberal view of the scripture. For instance, they effectively denied anything supernatural. They didn’t believe in the resurrection of the body, the immortality of the soul or the existence of spirits or angels. Because of this they were constantly at odds with the Pharisees.
However, the Pharisees and Sadducees did have something in common. Each thought they were right and everyone else was wrong. They were hypocrites.
“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them… Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” — Jesus (Matthew 23:2-4, 13)
Sadly, much of contemporary Christianity is saturated with the yeast, or the teachings, of the Pharisees and Sadducees. The yeast of denominational flag waving, elitism and the refusal by many to believe in the supernatural aspects of the Spiritual-filled life are blended throughout their theology and church tradition. Jesus strongly warned us to “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Yet, many who call themselves Christian embrace their teachings. The effects of this are this attitude is widespread and devastating to the Body of Christ.
He (Jesus) replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men… Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” (Mark 7:6-8, 13)
The resulting effect of these kinds of teachings is that they drain God’s Word of power in the life of the one who embraces them. We are sapped of divine power when legalism binds us with empty traditions and liberalism denies a God of powerful displays in our lives. You see, when we remove the “super” from “supernatural” all we have left is natural—that done only in the flesh. Consequently, we end up trying to do the ministry in the flesh, rather than in the power of the Holy Spirit. Eventually, we end up defeated, cold, empty and void of true direction.
How about you? Has the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees been folded into your life? Are you bound by empty legalism and the teachings of man? Is your faith natural or … supernatural? Have you been taught to dismiss the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Are you a Pharisees or Sadducee… or a little bit of both?
“Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
Can you be free of this darkness that has controlled your life? Absolutely!
Like you, I was bound for years by many of the aspects presented by the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. I was a spiritual snob. My denomination was right and the others deceived. I dismissed the gifts of the Spirit as being a thing of the past, despite scriptural admonitions to the contrary. I was as prideful, arrogant and I’m ashamed of the way I acted.
Here is how God set me free.
Through a serious of very painful events God opened my eyes to my spiritual haughtiness. I began to realized that much of my theology was based on “the traditions of men” rather than on the WORD of God. Then, I began to separate myself from these traditional teachings. [It wasn’t long before I was spiritually ostracized from my denominational friends and family] I began to spend long hours praying; asking God to help me separate tradition from truth. That was a journey that began in the late of the 1980’s and continues today.
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – Jesus (John 8:3132)
God bless you on your quest for truth.