This is our tenth study on this topic. Please click HERE for an intro to this study. Today we will focus on the false teaching of the Pharisees.
When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
7 They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”
8 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9 Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 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.” 12 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.
First of all, we have to understand what Jesus meant by the term yeast (or leaven). In the material sense it is a substance added to dough to cause it to rise. If leaven bread dough is left too long before baking, it will ferment or sour. In Hebrew culture (in Mosaic Law) it was strictly forbade to use leaven in baking because it signified impurity, corruption or evil.
In this text when Jesus said, “Be on your guard against the yeast (or leaven) of the Pharisees, He was saying, be on your guard against corrupt and false teaching (which mainly was that they were too concerned with the external and not enough with matters of the heart). However, Jesus’ disciples completely misunderstood Him. They thought He was talking about bread—not having enough bread.
The clear application here is that we ought to be on our guard against any false teachers; they are everywhere. And there are many who are just like the Pharisees, who appear to be so righteous and knowledgeable, but they leave out the deep spiritual matters of the heart—things that are vital to our relationship with God.
The following text is part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which is on the subject of wealth and worldly-mindedness; and it is meant mainly for Christians, but also for non-Christians.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22 “The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
We will look at this teaching in three parts: 1) general observations, negative and positive, from verses 19 and 20; 2) spiritual dangers, from verses 21-23; and 3) On God and mammon, from verse 24.
General Observations (vv. 19 and 20)
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal (v. 19).
Here are three general or common-sense observations of this verse:
Worldly treasures do not last. They are impure and corruptible like moth and rust. They are like beautiful flowers that will soon wilt and die.
Earthly treasures never fully satisfy. They always lack something and we are soon tired of them.
Earthly treasures are never safe from robbers.
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal (v. 20).
Here are four general or common-sense observations of this verse:
Treasures in heaven will not be corrupted. They are incorruptible or imperishable.
Treasures in heaven cannot be stolen. They are in a place that is impregnable and will be kept for us for eternity.
The love of God is our greatest treasure and nothing can separate us from that (Rom. 8:38-39).
Heaven is the realm of life and light and purity, and nothing tainted or polluted can enter there.
Spiritual Dangers (vv. 21-23)
21 for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22 “The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
Let’s look at verse 21 first: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This tells us that our treasures tend to put a power-grip on our heart—and the heart involves the mind; so, we will also have a power-grip on our mind. This power-grip is very subtle, and to those who are not truly spiritual (who have not given themselves fully to Christ), a subtle change will happen to them (to their mind and heart). They will soon become influenced by a worldly-minded outlook on life, which will eventually master them and make them slaves to the world.
In verses 22 and 23 Jesus begins talking about the eye. He says,
“The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
Normally or naturally the eye is clear (or single). This describes the spiritual vision of a spiritual person. But, in keeping with the context, if a person allows himself to be worldly-minded and in love with his treasures, he will develop an evil eye, or one who has double vision or blurred vision, vision colored by prejudices, or lusts, etc.; hence our earthly treasures affect us morally.
The last part of verse 23 is interesting. I think it means that a man who is so attached to his earthly treasures may actually not see anything wrong in it; so that the light that he thinks he sees in himself (and in his treasures) is actually darkness—a darkness that comes out of his hypocrisy and delusion. This is a person who has lost his mind and no longer knows right from wrong, good from evil.
God and Mammon
In verse 24 Jesus comes to the climax of the matter.
24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
So it all comes down to this: which do we love, God or mammon (our wealth)? God wants all our love; He wants our total attention. But so does the world; and the world comes after our attention through all the things of the would—earthly treasures. And we have to choose between the two. Jesus said no man can have two masters.
Now it seems to me that we can evaluate where we are by our attitude toward our things. If we are holding on to our things tightly so that we can’t imagine parting with them we have a problem. Since if we love our things, that means that we hate God (that is what verse 24 says). So, if you want to maintain a relationship with God and love Him, you must let go of your things. You must trust God to give you all you need, and all the things you have, recognize that they come from Him. Make God your only master. Love Him alone.
In previous posts I have written about the Christian’s authority in Christ and about the heavenly places, which is the spirit realm, the place where we reign with Christ. In this post I want to give some reasons why God has called us to our high position.
1. To battle and be victorious.God has created us for battle and to be victorious over sin and Satan (Jud. 3:2). Every person who is a believer is naturally an enemy of the devil (1 Peter 5:8) and desires in his spirit to take authority over him.
2. To rule with Christ over the nations. In the future all Christians will sit with Christ (bodily) on His throne and will rule with Him over the nations (Rev. 2:26, 3:21). In the light of this great future we must now be trained in conflict and in how to prevail over the enemy…
This is our ninth study on this topic. Please click HERE for an intro to this study. Today we will focus on how Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for not being able in interpret the signs of the times, and how many of us can’t do it either.
The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.
2 He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ 3 and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4 A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.
The Pharisees seemed to be obsessed with miracles—that Jesus had to prove Himself by miracles. This was the second time they asked Jesus to show them a sign. The first time was in Matthew 12:38.
Jesus rebuked them for being so concerned with miracles, that they should first be able to read the signs of the times all around them. That is, to know who He was, to understand how people were rejecting Him, and how prophecy was being fulfilled right in front of their eyes.
Jesus again, as in Matthew 12, gives them the sign of Jonah, which was through Jonah a foretelling of and the miracle of His resurrection on the third day.
So many people today can’t read the signs of the times. So many have no idea what is happening or what will happen. It comes only to those who study bible prophecy. Many don’t even realize their own sin; they don’t read in the bible about sin and how sin begins and grows like a cancer (read Romans 1:24-32). Then they don’t realize how world events are falling into place, telling us that His coming is very soon. Of course, they don’t realize it because they don’t read the prophetical books in the bible. Some people don’t even bother to watch the world news on TV, or read the paper. They maybe don’t want to know what’s going on. They just want to be left along with their games and entertainment and pleasing themselves.
We should look around more and see all the transvestites and the queers, etc., and so to discern our times. We should also look at some of our politicians and see all the corruption and lying, and then to discern how things will end.
God wants us to be aware of things going on, and He wants us to know something of the future—both good and bad—which He has written out for us in His word.
Ephesians 2:6 tells us that all believers reign together in Christ in the “heavenly places.” The book of Ephesians mentions these heavenly places five different times (Eph. 1:3, 1:20, 2:6, 3:10, and 6:12). Here are some observations I have made about these places:
1 . The heavenly places are the spirit realm where all spirits dwell. The triune God dwells there (Eph. 1:20); the angels and the demons dwell there (Eph. 6:12); and all human spirits are there too.
2. Since both God and Satan dwell in the heavenly places we know that it is a place of both good and evil, where both light and darkness exist.
3. It is the place where Christians are reigning with Christ (Eph. 2:6), taking authority over sin, Satan and the demons, because they trust in Him and remain in His domain of light.
We don’t know exactly how the millennial kingdom will be set up—by what method and how long it will take. But we do have some details in the scriptures of some key parts of the kingdom and what that kingdom will look like. Here are five stages to the set up of the kingdom:
1. The government will be installed. The government in the millennium will be a theocracy—a government ruled by God. But as with all things on the earth, God the Father delegates His rulership to God the Son. Daniel 7:13-14 shows us this delegation.
“I kept looking in the night visions,And behold, with the clouds of heavenOne like a Son of Man was coming,And He came up to the Ancient of DaysAnd was presented before Him.14 “And to Him was given dominion,Glory and a kingdom,That all the peoples…
This is our eighth study on this topic. Please click HERE for an intro to this study.
10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.'”
12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”
13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”
15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”
16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.'”
In this text Jesus goes back to the Pharisees complaint that the disciples didn’t wash their hands before eating (vv. 1-2). He explains why He was unconcerned about it, or why He was more concerned about the inside of a person—the heart. He said that what comes out of a man, or what a man speaks will defile him. It is exactly what James tells us (in James 3:6), that when we speak something sinful, our sinful words will defile the entire man and will cause us to do evil things (v. 19).
Also, when the disciples came and told Jesus that the Pharisees were offended by what he was saying, His reply seemed very callous; however, Jesus knew their evil heart and was more concerned that His disciples not be influenced by them. John MacArthur said that Jesus here (in vv. 13-14) is declaring God’s wrath on the Pharisees, that God has already given them over, as in Romans 1:18-32).
We ought to be much more concerned with our moral purity than with out physical uncleanness. We also should be watchful of “blind guides,” so that we will not be led down the wrong path.
What is the source of every Christian’s authority? Well, first of all, let’s examine this authority.
Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary describes authority as “The power or right to do something, particularly to give orders and see that they are followed. The word authority as used in the Bible usually means a person’s right to do certain things because of the position or office he holds.”
In view of this definition we can see that in a general sense everyone from a king to a small child has some degree or level of authority. While a king has authority over many people, a child also has authority, even if it is only over a small puppy. But there is one who has absolute authority over all things. His name is Jesus. He has authority over all people. He has authority over all the creatures on the earth and in the…
This is our seventh study on this topic. Please click HERE for an intro to this study.
Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”
3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,’ 6 he is not to ‘honor his father’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.
The tradition of washing hands before meals is a good one, but it wasn’t commanded by God through Moses, so Jesus wasn’t that concerned about it. He was concerned more over why the Pharisees were teaching that it was okay not to honor father and mother for the sake of their tradition. The Pharisees were teaching that it was okay not to help your mother and father with a financial need, or with any other need, if you gave your time and money to God instead—because God is more important.
I see all kinds of applications here, especially if one’s parents are elderly and poor. We cannot use any excuse for not honoring parents by helping them with their needs, no matter what good thing we are doing for God. Honoring parents is always a greater priority. We should not say, I cannot help my parents with their needs because I need that money to go to Bible School. We cannot say I cannot honor my parents by supporting them because I support this missionary or this good work. Honoring one’s father and mother is the 5th commandment and a high priority—an absolute must over any other good work.
This is our sixth study on this topic. Please click HERE for an intro to this study.
38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.”
39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.
In this text we see that the Pharisees wanted to see a sign from Jesus. They of course were already seeing miracles of healing, but they wanted something more spectacular. Evidently, they wanted more proof that He was who He said He was. They wanted a show. This reminds me of what the second end times beast will do, the one called “the false prophet.” In Revelation 13:13-15 it says that he will perform great signs, even make fire come down out of heaven; and he will “give breath to the image of the beast.” He will do these things obviously to win the people over and for an evil purpose.
Jesus knew their heart and would not give them what they wanted, because it would be evil and adulterous (a spiritual adultery, or idolatry). Instead, He gave them a sign from Scripture, the sign (or miracle) of the resurrection. This sign was given in the experience of Jonah: that “as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” This saying was a type of Christ’s interment and resurrection.
The message that Jesus gave the Pharisees was meant not just as a prophecy of His resurrection, but more as a rebuke for their wanting a sign. He rebuked the Pharisees (v. 14) by telling them that even the wicked people of Nineveh were better (more responsive to God) than they were because the people of Nineveh repented by the preaching of Jonah, but they refused to repent even though one greater than Jonah was there—Jesus Himself.