Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees

By John Foll, finished writing 1/8/2018
© Copyright 2018 John Foll

It takes more than having the correct theory of the truth to be saved.

* This blog is not for everyone, but some may especially need to hear this message. If you are looking for a nice easy-going article that tells you that you are OK and just makes you feel good, this article is not for you. We are sorry if it appears too strong. But there are problems with the way many people believe about how they are saved. Since Jesus gave this message or a similar one to it, it still needs to be heard! But if you are not ready for it, then don’t read this article. If you would like to find out what you may lack or need to do to be saved, read on.

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’” Matthew 16:6 NASB. “Then they [Jesus’ disciples] understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Matthew 16:12 NASB.

Jesus’ statement here is still valid today! We need to beware of the leaven of the modern Pharisees and Sadducees!

Today there are two basic groups within Christianity: the left and the right.
(We are not talking about Christian denominations here.) We are not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings or put down anyone, but today there is a “general” condition of lukewarmness in many Churches that seems very hard to wake people up to, or it’s a cold spiritual state or it’s a party like happy-go-lucky state – no worries. They just don’t get it. This is similar in some ways to when Jesus walked this earth warning His Disciples against the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. What can be done to wake people up to their peril? This is our desire and ministry objective: Help people lose their lukewarm Christian state.

In our day some have been taught to presume on God’s great mercy, that everything is taken care of by grace … they don’t need to choose to let God help them, renounce the world, or make the changes He wants them to make, or they are taught that once they are saved that they cannot be lost. Some don’t think their choice plays any role in their salvation once they have become ‘saved’: it is automatic after this. Some believe that they don’t need to give themselves to God daily or don’t think this needs to be their concern, since they are ‘saved’ or because of ‘grace’ or whatever. Or they don’t give it any thought at all, since they are falsely comforted by their teachers. And many of them are taught that they don’t have to obey God; that if they try to obey Him this is works and bad. There are multiple variations and layers of this teaching, depending on which Christian denomination they are from. But the end result of all of them will be the same, unless a miracle happens and they change. There is not as big a difference between the variations of these beliefs as many might think, the end result is the same: trick people into thinking that they are safe, when they are not, so that they will be lost. Trick people into thinking that since they have ‘the truth’ or the correct beliefs, that they are good and will be saved. Some of them won’t admit that the points we are making apply to them. They hide behind their belief that because they believe ‘the truth’ or because of something that they have done or are doing that they will be saved in the end. Some people seem to think church membership is a membership into a club of the saved.

And in our day there are others who claim that they ‘know the truth’, and probably think that they are keeping it. But they really aren’t and they are often harsh and critical with others, not knowing their true need of God. Some believe that they are right because they believe ‘the truth’ and take a firm stand for it, and think that this alone makes them goodgood enough to be saved. And they think that if you don’t agree with them and do as they do, that you don’t get it, implying that you are lost. They think that this is good behavior: talking about the sins and mistakes of others, but it is in fact, a terrible sin that will shut them out of Heaven, unless they repent of it. Others think that their salvation is secure because of grace, but if you don’t believe like they do, you are ‘under the law”, implying that you are lost. So this other side also believes that their belief saves them.

Many have a theory of the truth but do not have a vital connection with God, or their connection with Him is inconsistent. Many claim that the other side is in error without knowing that they are in error too. There is nothing you can learn that will save you by itself, even if it’s the truth, without the need to humble yourself before God, confess all your sins, yield to Him all the way moment by moment, and be fully converted and born again. What can be done to wake people up to these delusions? Many don’t realize that belief alone will not save them, weather it is the truth or not. Or they may think they are saved without having to yield to God, because they are saved or were saved at one time.

Do you believe?
You do well, the demons also believe and tremble! James 2:19. The belief in the truth is a good place to start, but unless you are daily converted and born again it is not enough. But do you believe in all the truth, or just what has been “cherry picked” for you by your teachers? Have you studied out all that the Bible has to say, the whole thing, and tried to learn everything that it teaches, without trying to force it through what you have been taught to make it fit? Jesus says that we are to beware of the leaven or teaching, or the doctrines of the Pharisees (on the right) and the Sadducees (on the left). We believe that Jesus would still say in our day to beware of ‘the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees', if He were here walking and teaching on this earth. He would warn us that we are to beware of their teachings and attitudes that do not line up 100% with God’s word in the Bible. And all attitudes that do not line up 100% with God’s love or are not compatible with it, should be discarded. (We are not saying here that God will not eventually carry out justice here against the unrepentant sinner, or that rebuke to sinners is not necessary sometimes, but it is always to be given in love.)

Many think that they know the truth, but if they are not changed by it to be kinder, gentler, more forgiving, more compassionate to others, more devoted to God, and more obedient to Him, it is of little value. You must be born again to enter the kingdom of Heaven, regardless of whether you believe the truth or not. John 3:3, 5. These are not my words, but Jesus’ words.

Jesus also said to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy:
“Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things, and do not do them.’” Matthew 23:1-3 NASB. Jesus’ definition of hypocrisy is when people say things and do not do them. Notice Jesus didn’t say that everything that the Scribes and Pharisees were saying were wrong. He clearly indicated that the things that they taught from the Bible should still be done, but that we are not to do as they do, because they said things and did not do them. Why? Because they had no vital connection with God, and no one can live a righteous life apart from Him. All their righteousness was pretended. We think this adequately describes many of those on the left, as well as many on the right in our day too. Did you catch that? Yes you heard that right! All their righteousness is pretended.

Many on the left ‘claim’ that they believe that they are saved by grace, or that they believe in righteousness by faith, while they do not really know what saving faith is, or what it means to be born again, or they have forgotten or lost it. And they believe that since they are saved by grace, that this is all that is needed. They have a theory of part of the truth, but not the practice. (Yes, we are saved by grace!) But the way many of them live is really a form of self-righteousness (or no righteousness at all), just like those on the right who are not born again. Anyone who does not have Christ’s righteousness has either self-righteousness or no righteousness at all. No one can be good before God standing in the robe of their own righteousness or filthy rags. Isaiah 64:6. Only those who are confessing their sins and allowing God to cleanse them from all unrighteousness appear good in the eyes of God. 1 John 1:9. Because Christ will be their righteousness, He will give it to them. Philippians 1:11; 3:9; Romans 8:10. Only those who are yielding to God step-by-step, day-by-day are where God wants them to be.

Many on the right seem to think that because they believe ‘the truth’ and take a vigorous stand for it, and put down those who do not do what they say, and those who don’t agree with their views on everything, that this makes them good. What a joke. Many of them also say bad things about others behind their back, and try to assassinate their characters. (Many on the left do this too.) But this behavior is anything but good. Jesus declared:If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” Matthew 18:15-17 NASB. The King James Version for this passage says that we are to ‘tell him his fault between thee and him alone.’ But even though Jesus said this, it has fallen on deaf hears, for many do not seem to know that He said it, or they just ignore what He said. This is such a big problem! This can cause souls to be lost and can divide churches! (This could cause the soul of the person being talked about to be lost, as well as those who are talking about them, unless they repent.) Belief in the truth is never enough by itself, there must also be a change of heart and a love for lost sinners, not desiring to hurt any - that all would come to repentance. It takes more than a theory of the truth! The truth must take possession of the heart. The attitude must change. What truth especially? The truth of God’s love for humanity and desire to save everyone!! We believe that some on both sides have parts of the truth, but it is not complete or is just a theory to them.

‘Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers’ Philippians 3:2 NASB:
Beware of the false teachings and bad attitudes of the left and the right. To some, the left appear to be more correct, because they talk much of God’s grace and love, which is true and can be found easily in the Bible. But to others, the right appears to be more correct and in line with more Bible truths. (Some on the right believe that they are saved by grace too.) But many Christians are not born again or have lost it, and think that because they believe ‘the truth’ and try to keep it that that it is enough to be saved, or for others who do nothing at all, because they think that all works are bad and are careless of God’s requirements. Those who are not listening to God do not know their own true spiritual condition: that they are blind, miserable, and naked. Revelation 3:15-20. Those who don’t see their need to obey God’, or seek His help to obey Him are blind to their true condition. But God’s Holy Spirit is given to all that obey Him (Acts 5:32) and to those who want to obey Him. And those who don’t want to obey Him (or don’t think that He can help them obey) most certainly do not have the Holy Spirit and are not born again. If someone is not wanting to obey, or do not think that they can obey Him by His power, you can be sure there is a big problem in their life that they need to confess, repent and forsake. There is nothing too hard for God that He wants to do for His people, if they want His help. Jeremiah 32:17, 27. If you are born again you will have the love of God in your heart for others, and will have pity for those who are erring, and will not talk bad about them. And you will also love to obey God, and be sorry when you make a mistake or sin. You will not seek to excuse sin, but get forgiven, and receive God’s sweet Holy Spirit into your life again. When you are born again, sharing God’s love for others is a delight for you, and your life is oriented around unselfish service to God, and for the salvation of souls, or for doing whatever God has given you to do to help others. (God gives different gifts to each person who belong to Him.)

The Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees are the partial truths, the half-truths, and the falsehoods that they believe are the complete truth, without knowing they are missing something essential. For some of them, it is their attitude towards others that is wrong, more than their beliefs. These beliefs make them think that they are safe, OK, and right with God, when in fact they are not. They surround themselves with teachers who tell them they are OK as long as they have the correct beliefs. They both believe that they are right and that the other side is wrong. They say some things which are true, but do not do them. Both need to be born again, or re-born again. This is one of the ways the devil confuses people, he gets them into focusing on someone else as being in error, while they ignore their own errors. He holds up another group as being wrong, and gets them on a crusade against them. Unfortunately a lot of people in both of these groups are lacking the Holy Spirit dwelling in their heart, that all are required to have in order to be able to enter the kingdom of Heaven. John 3:3, 5. You must be born again to enter the kingdom of Heaven. This is not a statement about someone’s beliefs, but a statement about what they are or are not – born again or not born again. Belief will not save anyone, being born again will. (We are not talking about faith here, just people’s beliefs.)

Beware of the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees!
Beware of those who say they believe the truth but do not do it!
Beware of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees!
Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers.

It’s not ‘what you know’, but ‘Who you know’ that saves you:
Jesus says, ‘depart from Me, ye that work iniquity’ ‘for I never knew you’. “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. 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?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'” Matthew 7:21-23 NASB.

Do you know my Jesus? Do you know my friend? Have you heard He loves you? And that He will abide till the end?‘ Oh sinner, waste not a precious moment! Make the Savior your friend before your life is over. No one knows how much time they have left on this earth. Don’t believe for a moment that you are OK because you know the truth or that you are automatically saved by grace, and that you do not have to make a choice to humble yourself before Him, love, serve and obey Him.

* From the song ‘Do you know my Jesus?’ by Vep B. Ellis and William F. Lakey

‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ Acts 16:30 KJV.
If you know that you are not born again, or find that you have been in error on any of the points we discussed in this article, or any others, and God is convicting you on it, you can get a clean slate right now with God! * He is always willing to forgive! Just humble yourself before Him right now, and tell Him you are sorry that you didn’t love Him enough to yield to Him all the way before, and obey Him in everything He asked you to do, or for putting it off. Tell Him you are sorry that you haven’t given your heart completely to Him before. Ask Him to help you be born again and fill you with His sweet Spirit. Ask Him to help you to love and obey Him in all things. Ask Him to help you become meek, gentle, lowly, and kind. Always obey Him willingly whenever He asks you to do something; ask Him for the help to do it. If you want to do your own thing, God will not force you to change or stop you from doing it, but it will make Him sad, because He loves you! If you decide to go your own way you cannot have this wonderful peace, love and joy in your heart that He wants to give you, and you will lose your earthly and heavenly security. But there is no reason for you to do this when you can have all the eternal riches that God wants to give you! And you can start to gain some of them right now! Do you want these eternal riches dear reader? They are yours if you will claim them! Give your heart to God now and every day and they will be yours! You will be so glad that you did! There will be a sweetness in your life that you probably never had or noticed before. Your attitude will change towards others who used to get you upset before, and you will want to obey God. And there will be Son-shine in your heart! Amen!

May the grace of God be with you, as you decide if you want to give your heart to God all the way. We hope and pray that you do. We want to see you in Heaven, and know the joy of the eternally saved! Amen.

* From the Song ‘He’, music written by Jack Richards, with lyrics by Richard Mullan.

Final Note:
There is a way to tell from the Bible if you are born again or not, if you will study it out. You should, your eternal life depends on it. But it must be more than a theory to you, you need to allow God to change you and you must give yourself to Him all the way. It must be your desire and practice. I.e. what you do, not just what you say. Only God can do this for you, but you must submit to Him completely, every day, if you want to be born again and stay that way. Amen, let it be so!

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