Summary: Overcoming Spiritual Deception
OVERCOMING SPIRITUAL DECEPTION
Last Sunday we listened to Jesus powerful words regarding the signs of the times. In His confrontation with the religious leaders, Jesus condemned their lack of spiritual insight to recognize the signs of their times regarding the coming of the Messiah and what God was doing. They saw, heard and experienced numerous undeniable, miraculous signs and they chose to deny them. They were totally blind to what they saw and to what God was doing. Because of their unwillingness to believe the truth, their hearts became hard toward God, causing spiritual blindness and deception.
That is exactly what is happening in this generation. Just as God gave undeniable signs to the generation of Christ’s first coming, even so, He is now giving clear, undeniable signs of Christ’s second coming.
And just as the generation of His first coming were blind to Christ’s arrival, even so, our generation, this generation, is also blind to what God is doing and the signs that announce the nearness of His return.
The Bible clearly predicts that in the days before Christ’s return spiritual blindness and deception would be rampant on a worldwide scale. This is happening right now in our generation. It is another clear sign from God warning us that Christ return is near and very sure.
This morning, I want us to pay close attention to the serious warning Jesus gave to His disciples regarding spiritual blindness and deception.
Matthew 16:5 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. (NIV)
There are several things happening here that fully apply to us and this generation.
First there is Jesus warning and command.
This warning from Jesus to His disciples is the same warning He has for us and this generation. Listen to His words.
Matthew 16:6 "Be careful," Jesus said to them. "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."
Did you hear the seriousness in His voice and the warning in His words?
Jesus was not making small idle conversation here. He was giving His disciples a serious warning in the form of a command to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. It is the same warning for us and this generation.
The Greek word for “be careful” is horao, which literally means to clearly see and take notice. Jesus is literally saying; don’t be fooled. Don’t get taken by surprise; pay very close attention to the leaven of Pharisees.
To understand what this warning means for us, we must first understand the Biblical meaning of leaven.
In the days of Jesus, leaven was used for many purposes and it was especially used as a form of yeast to cause dough to rise in bread. They would save a small piece of unbaked dough and use it to start the next batch of dough. It only took a small piece of leaven / yeast to cause the whole batch of dough to rise.
Throughout the New Testament, the spiritual meaning regarding leaven has almost always represented evil and false teaching. So here’s the point.
Just as a little amount of leaven, can affect and influence a whole batch of unbaked dough; even so just a little bit of false teaching and spiritual deception can also affect the outcome of your life and your eternal destiny.
This is exactly why Jesus was so concerned and why He warned His disciples to stay away from the influence and the false teachings of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. He compared their teachings to leaven because like leaven and yeast, their false teachings had the power to spread and have a terrible effect and influence on so many lives.
That brings us to this question; what specifically is the leaven of the Pharisees and what does it have to do with the signs of our generation and the coming of Christ?