Beware the Leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees

Jesus had a strained relationship with the religious leaders and authorities of His time. The following quote shows one of the reasons (see bold type) why He saw it necessary to warn His disciples about them.

… the scribes and the Pharisees began to assail Him vehemently, and to cross-examine Him about many things, lying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch Him in something He might say, that they might accuse Him

In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy”. (Luke 11-12)

Is His warning equally valid today? If so who do we need to beware of? Who would be the present day Pharisees and Sadducees? What individuals or groups reflect the attitudes and behaviors of those bible-era opponents of Jesus and His gospel? What did the historical Pharisees and Sadducess do in their desire to oppose Jesus?

There is one example in the quote above “seeking to catch Him in something He might say“. They scrutinised everything (not with integrity like the later Bereans, who wanted to find whether Paul’s preaching was valid or not) but with the intention of finding fault with anything Jesus was saying. They just wanted ammunition with which they could accuse and condemn Him. Eventually, when they found none, they chose to take His words out of context and give them unintended meaning.

Another trait was their unwillingness to recognise and accept the miracles that Jesus did. Instead, again, they tried to find fault because Jesus didn’t do things according to their own traditions and teachings. They even attributed His works to the power of Satan. When everything else failed they resorted to outright lies.

Eventually they condemned Him because He told them the truth – truth they refused to accept.

I suggest that any present day equivalent of those religious leaders would demonstrate the same attitudes and same tactics as their historical counterparts and similarly deceive their undiscerningly devoted followers, steering them away from the the opportunity to enter and experience the fullness of the gospel and the ministry life that Jesus came to give those who genuinely follow Him.

“Woe to you … For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.” (Luke 11)

Beware of those who deny the power of God and its continuation in the present day.

Beware of those whose major “ministry” is finding fault with what others are saying and doing.

Beware of believing accusations made against others without checking the truthfulness of those accusations.

Beware of those who CLAIM to honour the word of God, and yet see the need to dismiss or reinterpret those parts of it that don’t suit their particular theological agenda and traditions.

Jesus answered [the Sadducees] and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.
(Matt 22)

Beware of that same kind of blindness.

False Spirits 2

There is a serious need for genuine discernment in the church involving BOTH Spirit and Word.

Highlighting the importance of one at the expense of the other will lead us off the narrow way and into a ditch.

The ditch on one side is charismania.
The ditch on the other side is cessationism.

Both of the above pay lip-service of varying degrees to the Word, but both effectively ignore most of what scripture reveals about the character and work of the Holy Spirit.

Torben Søndergaard videos

Over the next several days I’ll be posting more videos by Torben Søndergaard addressing issues within the church that have arisen over decades through a lack of discernment and a lack of regard for God’s word.

Those issues are not one sided.

Søndergaard refers to the danger of falling into two extreme ditches if eyes are taken off the road between them; the road we are supposed to walk – the narrow way of Jesus.

Mostly attention is given to manifestations of both the flesh and deceiving spirits that have been accepted by many in the church as being the work of the Holy Spirit. But warnings are also given about the temptations of becoming a “heresy hunter” viewing all spiritual experience as being of the devil.

Those falling into the two ditches of charismania and cessationism have too little regard for the word of God, casting aside those parts that would challenge the error they have fallen for.

While pointing out various manifestations that he identifies as being either fleshly or demonic, Søndergaard avoids condemning those who have been deceived into thinking the Holy Spirit is at work. In fact he suggests that the Spirit IS at work, but not in the way assumed.

A few days ago in a recent post I wrote about Satan’s attempts to distract from the work of God and how we need to practice TRUE discernment when judging what’s going on so that we don’t reject the genuine along with the false.

Søndergaard believes that some of the manifestations evident among many charismatics can be due to the Holy Spirit’s presence causing unclean spirits to react; and that the manifestation of those evil spirits is unfortunately being interpreted by the undiscerning, as evidence of the Holy Spirit Himself. Therefore instead of the demon being cast out – their effects are being encouraged and sought.

Søndergaard also cautions against rejecting everything a charismatic group or individual does or teaches just because they are in error in in this particular area. He highlights the need for real discernment between the Godly and them ungodly, and not a complete rejection of everything.