The Leaven of the Pharisees Part 1

Audio: mp3

A Warning

If you ever go into a yard you will see a sign saying ‘Beware of the Dog’. Most people are often wary of the dog because if they go in they expect the dog to come out and eat them up. It is very unwise to neglect a warning sign.

Luke 12:1 In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trod one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 

Are you aware of hypocrisy? Jesus was talking to his disciples not the Pharisees. I hope we can gain an understanding of what hypocrisy is so we do not follow that path. The Bible gives a description of hypocrisy in Matthew. Mathew 23 is given to hypocrites, the woes upon the hypocrites. We need to be aware of hypocrisy so we can gain lessons for ourselves.

Matthew 23:1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: 3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, [that] observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. :4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay [them] on men’s shoulders; but they [themselves] will not move them with one of their fingers. 5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, 6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. 8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, [even] Christ; and all ye are brethren. 9 And call no [man] your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, [even] Christ. 11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

The First Principle of Hypocrisy

Jesus describes the principles of hypocrisy. The first principle is they say and do not, their actions testify against their lips. The religious world says we must love God with all our hearts. There are many who preach we should love God and many sing hymns stating they love God but the characteristic of a hypocrite is to say you love God but you don’t show it.

Isaiah 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near [me] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: 14 Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, [even] a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise [men] shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent [men] shall be hid. 15 Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us? 16 Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?

Here are people who draw near with their lips. They say they love God and sing religious songs and read religious things but their hearts are far from God. We need to be wary lest we say things we don’t mean. In this description it says their wise men and their wisdom will not come to fruition. In their wisdom the clay says to the potter, you didn’t make me. Or to the person who framed me, you don’t really have understanding. It is not said with the lips because in the verse before it says with their lips they do honour me but in their actions they say that God does not have understanding for the things he requires of me as he doesn’t really require them. The truth is turned upside down. What does the Bible tell us to do if we say we love God?

1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

If any of us profess to love God while loving things of this world, we say and do not. In other words we are hypocrites. If I love the world, the love of the Father is not in me at all. I don’t love the Father therefore I can’t say I love him. The commandment that says to love God with all your heart requires us to turn totally away from the practices of this world. Isaiah chapter 4 tells us this would happen. In prophecy a woman is a church.

Isaiah 4:1 And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.

The Bible says the churches say they love God but they love the world, the lust of the eyes the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. In that day seven women will take hold of one man. They will want to take hold of the man but still want to wear their own clothes and eat their own bread. These things are the lusts of the flesh. I want to eat and wear whatever I want and I want to eat my own spiritual food and I want to wear my own spiritual clothing instead of the righteousness of Christ. Yet they are called Christians to take away their reproach. They say I am not an imposter, extortioner or an harlot because I am a Christian yet they say but they do not.

Isaiah 1:13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; [it is] iniquity, even the solemn meeting. 14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear [them]. 15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. 16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;

These verses talk about oblations, prayers, offering, and sacrifices. When we come to church we offer prayers, songs, tithes, offerings and spiritual gifts to God but he says he hates them while we do not do what we profess. He says stop it. God would rather you not sing or pray if you don’t mean it. He hates formalism he hates hypocrisy he hates the lying tongue that says something and does not do it. We must beware of this very thing. Just as much as anyone would be wary of the dog in someone’s yard so we must be very wary within our own heart that when we give worship to God we are not just doing it from form because it is our weekly ritual.

Proverbs 6:16 These six [things] doth the LORD hate: yea, seven [are] an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue,

How do you have a lying tongue? If you profess something you are not doing. Your actions speak louder than your words. Therefore your lips are the ones that are lying. If we want to show we love God we must take heed that we put away worldly practices being willing not to eat our own food and wear our own clothes nor exercise the lust of the eyes, flesh and the pride of life because if we do these things it shows the love of the Father is not in us.

Another Type of Hypocrisy

Another type of hypocrisy is when we claim to be reformers.

Men professing to have new light, claiming to be reformers, will have great influence over a certain class who are convinced of the heresies that exist in the present age and who are not satisfied with the spiritual condition of the churches. With true, honest hearts, these desire to see a change for the better, a coming up to a higher standard. If the faithful servants of Christ would present the truth, pure and unadulterated, to this class, they would accept it, and purify themselves by obeying it. But Satan, ever vigilant, sets upon the track of these inquiring souls. Someone making high profession as a reformer comes to them, as Satan came to Christ disguised as an angel of light, and draws them still further from the path of right. {5T 144.1}

The unhappiness and degradation that follow in the train of licentiousness cannot be estimated. The world is defiled under its inhabitants. They have nearly filled up the measure of their iniquity; but that which will bring the heaviest retribution is the practice of iniquity under the cloak of godliness. The Redeemer of the world never spurned true repentance, however great the guilt; but He hurls burning denunciations against Pharisees and hypocrites. There is more hope for the open sinner than for this class. {5T 144.2}

This testimony is saying there are people who actually long to be more obedient and have a higher standard of religion. They see the world coming into the church. There is a certain class of people who claim to be reformers who claim to offer a higher standard of life yet unhappiness and degradation follow into a sinful life. There are people who claim to teach the doctrine of character perfection and as they profess character perfection and others who are conscientious latch on to it but unfortunately the ‘how to’ is never supplied them. They never get taught how to overcome sin and therefore with their high anticipation they start out on the Christian life and after a while they fail and then they turn in the opposite direction and become worse than they did before. These reformers say we must overcome sin but they don’t do it. They have the great idea of what to do but they don’t do it and neither can they tell others how to do it. It is a theory.

Mat 23: 3… after their works: for they say, and do not. 4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay [them] on men’s shoulders; but they [themselves] will not move them with one of their fingers.

The majority of the Christian world says they love God yet their actions show they love the world more than God. Then there is another class professing to have obedience to all of God’s commandments yet they never teach you how to do it and therefore it becomes a heavy burden grievous to be born and they receive no help.

Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light.

Jesus says except your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. When the rich young ruler asked Jesus what he must do to inherit the kingdom of God, Jesus said to him keep the commandments of God. Jesus expects us to have a high standard of living and he offers the answers as to how to do it. He says come to me all you that are heavy laden. Jesus is offering the new covenant, the ‘how to’ of overcoming sin to those who desire to overcome and so in either way whether we are Pharisees in terms of being strict or whether we are worldly either one is hypocrisy. Many disassociate themselves from acknowledging their hypocrisy because they say I am not a Pharisee and they say I don’t believe you have to be strict but even that class is hypocritical.

The Second Principle of Hypocrisy

Matthew 23:5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,

The Pharisees used to bind passages of the torah around their arms and wear them as headbands. They made them big so people could see. This is the second description of a hypocrite. Have you seen in Christian circles armbands that people wear and on the bands there are letters? For example, WWJD. (What Would Jesus Do) or another one that has FROG on it. (Fully relying on God) or PUSH (Pray until something happens). The Pharisees did this in the time of Christ as they had things hanging around their necks or arms reminding them of their religion. These sorts of things are hypocritical because if we are fully relying on God (FROG), why do we need an armband that reminds us that we are?

As the Jews professed to revere the law, so do Romanists claim to reverence the cross. They exalt the symbol of Christ’s sufferings, while in their lives they deny Him whom it represents. {GC 568.1}

Papists place crosses upon their churches, upon their altars, and upon their garments. Everywhere is seen the insignia of the cross. Everywhere it is outwardly honored and exalted. But the teachings of Christ are buried beneath a mass of senseless traditions. GC p 568.

They do things to be seen of men. Wearing the crucifix or crosses on your ears is pharisaical. Wearing things on your body does not prove to others that you are religious; people need to see what you believe by your deportment, your attitude and the way you work. Ephesians speaks of the correct way to serve the LORD.

Ephesians 6:5 Servants, be obedient to them that are [your] masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6 Not with eye service, as men pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;

Being a hypocrite can even be seen in your daily work. Do you slack off as soon as the boss goes out? Do you work differently while the boss is watching you if so it is eye service? The Bible says we should work whole heartily doing the will of God from the heart as unto the LORD. We need to work as if God is our boss because he is always watching. Therefore there is no time in your life to act differently when people are not watching. Do you act differently at church than at home? Are you ever so kind at church then when you are at home you are abusive or get angry? God hates that; he wants us to be Christians at home at work or wherever we are.

Matthew 6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father, which is in heaven.

Giving alms means putting your offerings in the offering box and giving donations to the cause of God. Jesus says don’t let it be done in front of people. In most churches today an offering bag is passed around the church and if people see you not donating they say ‘Oh he is not paying offerings’ and those who are sensitive to the opinions of others think ‘Oh I better put some money in I’m being watched’. That is hypocritical. Jesus tells us that when you give offerings don’t let anyone see. That is why we have our offering box at the back of the church where no one can see you putting in your offering. You can put your offering in it any time you like when no one is looking because it is between you and the Lord.

Matthew 6:2 Therefore when thou doest [thine] alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and  in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

It needs to be kept very secret. There needs to be no big noise about what I have donated or what I have given. It all needs to be quiet.

Matthew 6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites [are]: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen [do]: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

We need to guard ourselves against repetition. The Bible says don’t let your prayers be like that. Don’t keep saying the word over and over again. When some pray they keep saying Lord this and Lord that and Lord and Lord and Lord every second word. You don’t need to repeat the words over and over again. Just say what you need to say. That is not saying you cannot pray often about the same thing but this is when people are listening. When you pray in secret you can be importunate over your issue and keep on the same request but not a repetition of words. We should never have a prayer book. Some churches have prayer books and there are some children’s prayer books that give the prayers they are meant to say also parents educate their children to say a certain prayer over and over again. Even the Lord’s Prayer is not meant to be repeated it is there as a principle of what to pray for.

Matthew 6:8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. 9 After this manner therefore pray ye:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Matthew 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as [it is] in heaven.

If you don’t mean that bit of the prayer and you don’t want to do it, then don’t say it as it’s hypocritical. What the prayer says is let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. That is a big statement to say. If you mean it then pray it but if you don’t, don’t pray it.

Matthew 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Does that prayer repeat itself and does it use vain repetition and big words? It is the simple prayer of a Christian desiring primarily the will of God. It is just asking for the necessities of life and then acknowledging God’s power and asking for a spirit of forgiveness and to be forgiven. All these principles are in a true Christians prayer.

Matthew 6:16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

God says anoint the hair and put the oil on and they wash the face and look as fresh as the morning and yet they fast but to bemoan and to walk around expecting people to feel sorrow for them. There is a large class of young people today who want people to feel sorry for them. It is hypocritical if you need sympathy. Tell God, he knows what you need and he will help you and then you can act as if you have the victory because if you believe you have the victory you will and you won’t need to bemoan yourself. This is very challenging info for us as when we say things we must mean them. When we do things we need to do them unto God in secret because if no one sees me who cares.

The Third Principle of Hypocrisy

Matthew 23:6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. 8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, [even] Christ; and all ye are brethren.

This world through its educational system promotes a cast society. If you are educated then you are considered higher and when highly educated you generally get the best seat in the room. If you are the president of the conference you will generally get the best seat but if you are the secretary, or leader of the union in the church or if you are the elder you will get the best seat in the house but the Bible says that we should not love those seats. The hypocrite loves to sit in the top seat of the house and loves to be called rabbi rabbi. Today they are called pastor, pastor and people love it but notice what Job says.

Job 32:18 For I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me. 19 Behold, my belly [is] as wine [which] hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles. 20 I will speak, that I may be refreshed: I will open my lips and answer. 21 Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. 22 For I know not to give flattering titles; [in so doing] my maker would soon take me away.

The Bible says we are not to give men flattering titles. Any title that puts my brother above me is flattering to them. They love titles. Many love to be called Dr or Pastor or to write the letters of their PHD after their name like the Pharisees. Be aware of the leaven of the Pharisee and be aware of the leaven of the educated which is hypocrisy to have you masters as the Bible says let no man call master. They say no one calls me that but that is your title you have achieved your Masters, you are a Master if you have a Masters. Jesus says woe you scribes and Pharisees, there is a woe to those who like to be called Rabbi.

Ezekiel 34:1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe [be] to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?

Woe to the shepherds. What is a shepherd in spiritual terms? A pastor. The Pastor looks after the sheep spiritually and God is saying woe to them like he is saying woe to the Pharisees.

Ezekiel 34:10 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I [am] against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.

The pastors are not pastoring therefore they have a title and they don’t do it. That is hypocrisy to call someone a pastor when they don’t pastor. The days when the older ministers used to pastor the flock they were called brother so and so and then when they stopped pastoring they got called pastors. In Adventist ranks in the 1800’s they never had the title pastor. They were pastors but they were not called pastor. But now woe to those who call themselves pastor when the sheep don’t get fed with what they need to know. God says, I’m going to take the flock from you. To the true flock it says;

Jeremiah 3:14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: 15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

Do you get fed from your pastor with knowledge and understanding? If you do and he is a true pastor you won’t need to call him pastor; he won’t care because he is not a hypocrite. The pastors that do care are generally not pastors. The key is to stop calling them pastors and see how they react. Call them brother because that is what they are all ye are brethren. The Pharisee loves it but he won’t admit it but he loves it.

Three Principles

1. Saying and not doing.

2. Being seen of men having an outward show.

3. Loving the titles and the honour of things.

We need to beware of these the things.

Job 20:4 Knowest thou [not] this of old, since man was placed upon earth, 5 That the triumphing of the wicked [is] short, and the joy of the hypocrite [but] for a moment? 6 Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds; 7 [Yet] he shall perish for ever like his own dung: they which have seen him shall say, Where [is] he?

There is a joy for a hypocrite. There is some gain but it is profitable for a moment. You will be honored of men, you will be highly esteemed and your head will reach the clouds but the Bible says it shall only be for a moment. If you do a profit and loss the hypocrite always come out in the negative. He shall be like his own dung, he shall dissolve back into nothing and people will say where is that person. The hypocrite shall perish.

Job 27:8, For what [is] the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul? 9 Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him?

What is his hope when the Lord will take away his soul? If you and I are interested in our lives we will beware of the leaven of the Pharisees just like any one who respects their life is wary when they see the sign ‘Beware of the Dog’. The hypocrite will perish forever and so I hope this challenges us to take a look at ourselves seriously that we do things for God and whether people see or not and what we say we mean and do. May the Lord help us be aware of the leaven of the Pharisees in our own lives.




Posted on May 27, 2011, in Sermons For Sabbath, The Leaven of the Pharisees, The Seven Woes and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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