Scripture To Consider:
“Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Jesus asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. Jesus answered and said to them, ‘When it is evening you say, “It will be fair weather, for the sky is red”; and in the morning, “It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.” Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.’

“A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” “And Jesus left them and departed.” Matthew 16.1-4

Something To Consider:
As Jesus returned to the western shoreline of the lake, His enemies again assailed Him bitterly. It was the very climax and final crisis of His ministry in Galilee. The desperate hostility of the religious rulers was evidenced by the fact that a coalition had been formed by the Pharisees and Sadducees, two parties usually violently opposed but now drawn together by their common hatred of Jesus.

They asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. It was impertinence and an insult. He had filled the land with wonder at His signs, and they had been countless in number and of many kinds. They had been sufficient to prove Jesus to be the Christ, the predicted Messiah come to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies.

Just what exactly His enemies now wished Jesus to do, it is difficult to say; possibly some voice from heaven, evidently some strange action which would compel them to believe. However, to ask for another sign is a hypocritical way of throwing doubt and discredit upon the miracles which Jesus already had performed, and of suggesting that His enemies were quite ready to accept His claims if only He would present more sufficient miraculous proof.

Jesus replied that their unbelief was not due to a lack of evidence, but to a lack of spiritual discernment. The difficulty was not and is not with the character of His proofs, but with the state of their hearts, and the hearts of the majority of humans today. These so-called religious rulers were wise enough to see indications of good or bad weather in a golden sunset or in a lowering morning, but in all the gracious works of Jesus they were too stubborn to see the signs of His royalty and of the nearness of His kingdom.

His miracles were the signs of the time and the indications that the King had come. His enemies would have understood these signs had it not been that their sight was diminished by sin, and their hearts were adulterous in their disloyalty to God. Jesus again, as on a former occasion, declared that only one distinct and unique sign was yet to be given, and that being the sign of Jonah, and the resurrection of Jesus.

Both of these are to be seen as prefigured by the experience of the great prophet Jonah and were to be the crowning demonstration of His claims. One who will not believe in Christ in view of His resurrection is self-condemned and his or her spiritual condition is hopeless, and their unbelief will be proved in the end to be eternally flawed.

More Scripture To Consider:
“And when Jesus’ disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.’ And they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘It is because we have taken no bread.'”

“But when Jesus perceived it, He said to them, ‘O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But you should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’

“Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Matthew 16.5-12

Something Else To Consider:
As Jesus crossed the lake with His disciples, He took occasion to warn them against the false teaching of the religious ruling class enemies whose demand for a sign had revealed their true character. Jesus’ warning is still to be heeded in this 21st century generation, “Take heed and beware of the leaven [or evil influence of false teaching] of the Pharisees and Sadducees [or so-called religious leaders].

According to Mark’s gospel, Jesus added a warning against the leaven or false teaching and evil influence of also the Herodians. As afterward explained, Jesus used leaven as a symbol of false doctrine or false teaching which is contrary to the Word of God. And Jesus continues to warn against the eternally damning influence of false doctrines created by man which attempts to undermine the clear and simple teaching of Scripture.

The Pharisees were formalists of the day. They reduced religion to a system of ceremonies and regarded a ritual as more important than the moral law of Scripture. The Sadducees were rationalists and materialists. They did not believe in the resurrection, or in angels, or in spirits. They were like those of the present days, who as far as possible, deny and discredit the supernatural in revelation and in religion. The Herodians may represent the modern-day secularists. They cared little for religion, and they placed their hopes in political readjustment, and lived for the prizes and pleasures of this world. Sound familiar?

Men of such beliefs and sympathies can have no place in their hearts for Christ. It is no wonder that they rejected Him, and that He warned His disciples against them. In the present day the church needs to be guarded against the same forms of false teaching. The leaven of the formalism, materialism, and worldliness is still spreading and against its insidious influences the true followers of Jesus need to be warned.

The early disciples failed at first to understand what Jesus meant by Him declaring, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” They thought He was referring to literal leaven, or to bread, and more naturally, as they had provided no bread for their journey. Jesus reminded them of the two miracles He had performed in feeding the multitudes.

Therefore, if physical food had been needed Jesus could have supplied the need. But He was concerned about the more important matter of spiritual food. Jesus was thinking of the false teaching to which His disciples would be exposed. Against this peril He ever wishes His disciples to be warned. Against this peril He ever wishes His true enduring to the end disciples of every generation be warned in advance.

Something More To Consider:
Peter, writing under the inspiration of God in 2 Peter chapter 2, soberly proclaimed, “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.”

Jesus often warned His disciples of false teaching, and in Matthew 24, as it relates directly to end times, Jesus warned, “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many [not some but many] will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ [that Jesus is the Christ or Messiah]‘, and will deceive many.” And in verse 11 of Matthew chapter 24, Jesus reiterated His warnings, by stating, “Then many false [corrupt end time teachers] will rise up and deceive many.”

During the end times of man’s political, military, and religious rule on planet earth, widespread deception will blanket the globe as a blinding east wind driven thick fog. And according to Peter’s further divine inspiration in 2 Peter 2.2, “And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.”

And according to the following verse, the reason for these end time false teachers bringing in secretly destructive heresies and denying even the teachings of Jesus is because of their love of money as proved by Peter’s words in verse 3 of 2 Peter chapter 2, “By covetousness [or greed for more money] they will exploit you [or take advantage of you and your money] with deceptive words.” Yes, the love of money is a good test for determining a false prophet. And yet, according to Peter these false teachers will be judged in God’s perfect timing.

So, though the demonic fog of deception has descended, the truth of the Word of God, though blasphemed, though altered by some, neglected by many, and falsely taught by others, has stood firm the test of time. Kings, rulers, and evil and corrupt religious hypocrites have all died down through the centuries seeking to destroy and to diminish the truth of God’s Word and the many warnings of Jesus Christ, and yet, to no avail upon the written and preserved Word of God.

Yes, there has been damage done to eternal lives in every generation due to false teachings and man-made false doctrines, but judgment awaits all those who have perpetrated, approved, and enlarged hell’s borders with the eternal souls of men, women, and young people. But godly just and deserved judgment is coming! Are our souls eternally safe and secure according to the written Word of God? Now is the time to make that clear distinction, before it is much too late!

A Few Final Words:
Will we become hard of hearing or slow to understand as were the disciples in our Scripture to consider? Will we fall prey to the onslaught of end time misinterpretation of Scripture and the evil attempts to nullify the words and warnings of Jesus by the prolific deceptive teaching of false prophets and false teachers?

Will we be deceived into believing messages and doctrines that contradict the Word of God and the words of Jesus? The truth is that the New Testament is full of divine warnings concerning end time false teachings. Are we studying to show ourselves approved unto God, thereby not being ashamed in the end by our being deceived?

Peter further addressed the deception of teachers and the methods they use in verse 18 of 2 Peter chapter 2, by explaining; “For when they [false teachers] speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error.”

And in verse 21 Peter also reveals the end result for believers who fall prey to this widespread deception as he announces, “For it would have been better for them [one-time believers] not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.”

In Closing:
The leaven of end time evil so-called religious leaders and false teachers is spiritually devastating when the final result causes us to trade our believing position in Christ for the seemingly great swelling words of emptiness and a temporary satisfying of the lusts and desires of our flesh.

This turning from the commandments creates an evil thirst for that which momentarily soothes our itching ears spiritual illnesses, but the end is eternal separation from all that is good and godly. Therefore, beware of end time false teaching, according to Jesus!

Let’s Pray:
Our Father in heaven, thank You for revealing the leaven or false teaching of the false religious rulers of Jesus’ day as well as of this 21st century generation. Thank You for the preserved record of Jesus’ warnings of the false prophets and false teachers being many in the end times in which we are now living. Teach us to know what or who is the Truth. May we in turn be found ever looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. In Him Always, Amen!

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