Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees

“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 16:6, 11-12

We need to pay attention the fact that Jesus warned His own disciples to be on guard against the teaching of the religious and political leaders of their day. They needed to have their guard up. They needed to be discerning. They couldn’t just sit and listen without filtering the message they were hearing.

The Pharisees had a works-based teaching that was about earning God’s love based on what you did. It was a performance-oriented message. If you do all the right things, you’ll be acceptable to God. If you don’t, you won’t be. The way it is taught today is, “Just be a good person.” But this is not the gospel.

The Sadducees had strong political ties to the parties in power. Their teaching was about being a good Roman citizen. The goal was to be a good hybrid–a good Roman while being a good Jew. Their teaching was about the perfect blend between nationalism and religion. The way it is taught today is, “Love God and country” as if being a good American is what it is to be a good Christian. This is not the gospel.

When Jesus was warning His disciples to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees, He was warning us too. He was telling us to be on guard against a religious spirit and a political spirit. He was telling us not to allow these two demonic influences to infect the gospel that we preach and live.

The gospel says that we are not justified by our works, but by what Jesus did by His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave. The gospel says that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and not our performance of religious actions. The gospel declares that our obedience is our joyful response to God’s unmerited grace and unconditional love, not a prerequisite for receiving them.

The gospel says that we are primarily citizens of the Kingdom of God, not the country we live in. The gospels says that our primarily loyalty is to King Jesus alone! The gospel says that our primary identity is not that we are American but that we are sons and daughters of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Has the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees infected the gospel you’re living?

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