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Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:5-12

Beware the Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees

(Matthew 16:1-12)



1.   The convincing power of Jesus was rolling through the hills of Galilee like a mighty storm. The multitudes were blessed and “glorified the God of Israel” (Matt 15:31).

2.   But the scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem came objecting to the teaching and obstructing the work of Christ (Matt 15:1).

3.   Now, they also endeavor to ensnare and entice Jesus, Matt 16:1.

4.   This gives Jesus a just reason to rebuke them and an occasion to warn His disciples (and us) of the danger of false teaching.



   A.   The Evil Motive of the Pharisees and Sadducees, 16:1.

      1.   The signs of Jesus were abundant and convincing; never one failure (that’s all it would have taken for enemies to exploit!).

      2.   Exposed by the Savior (Humans have the discernment to act upon available signs, 16:2-3).

      3.   God has not left Himself without witness: The sign of Jonah (Matt 12:38-40): The resurrection of Jesus.

   B.   Why Are You Following Jesus? Lord knows your motives…

      1.   To test Christ? Matt 16:1

      2.   To serve the flesh? Jno 6:26

      3.   To be seen and praised by others? Matt 6:1

      4.   To deflect criticism and/or hidden sins? 1 Pet 2:16

      5.   To escape persecution? Gal 6:12

      6.   To boast in your accomplishments? Gal 6:13

      7.   To criticize His disciples? Matt 15:1-2

      -Lord will depart from those with such evil hearts. Matt 23:38



   A.   The Doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees Included:

      1.   Denial of Jesus as the Christ (Matt 16:1, 13-16).

      2.   Binding of human traditions while hypocritically excluding themselves, Lk 12:1 (Matt 15:6-7; 23:4).

      3.   Sadducees denied immortality and resurrection (Acts 23:8).

   A.   Take Heed: Discernment is Essential, (perceive, know) 16:6; Phil 1:9-11.

      1.   We must know and hold the true doctrine in order to discern the “leaven” of false doctrine, 2 Tim 1:13; 3:14; 2 Ths 2:1-3.

      2.   Will to obey + hearing = Understanding, Jno 7:16-17.

   B.   Beware: Be Attentive to the Lord’s Warning, 16:6.

      1.   They forgot to take bread; they must never forget the leaven of error is at work; constant vigilance is required, Jude 3-4.

      2.   The threat of error is real, Eph 4:14; 2 Jno 7-9.

      3.   Apathy toward (the danger of) false doctrine is also a sin! Rev 2:14-16, 20



    A.  False Doctrines are like Leaven in the Following Ways:  (Barnes)

      1.   They are at first slight and unimportant in appearance, just as leaven is small in quantity as compared with the mass that is to be leavened, cf. Matt 13:33; Rom 16:17-18 (discernment essential).

      2.   They are insinuated into the soul unawares and silently, and are difficult to detect, Jude 4; 2 Pet 2:1.

      3.   They act gradually until they finally corrupt and consume, 2 Tim 3:13.

      4.   They most certainly have an effect, 1 Cor 5:6; Gal 5:9.

      5.   They will permeate all the soul and bring all the faculties under their control, 2 Pet 2:19.



1.  What we must do:

   a.   Beware: Be sober, be watchful (1 Pet 5:8).

   b.   Test what is taught (1 Jno 4:1).

   c.   Hold fast the pattern of sound words (2 Tim 1:13).

2.  We cannot afford to eat the poisonous bread of false doctrine: it will kill us (destroy our life with Christ)!