Pervasive Influences

Matthew 16:5-12 ESV

“When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, ‘We brought no bread.’ But Jesus, aware of this, said, ‘O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread?

“’Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

Definition of leaven: “a pervasive influence that modifies something or transforms it.” And the word pervasive means “prevalent, persistent, and widespread,” and it can be aggressive, hostile, and warlike.

So, Jesus was warning his disciples to beware this pervasive influence and teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. For they were not teaching the truth of the Scriptures, for they were not listening to God, and so they were not serving him with their lives. And even if they did teach what was true, they did not put into practice what they preached.

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were skilled at hypocrisy. Jesus described them in this way (based off Matthew 23):

• They do not practice what they preach
• They do their deeds to be seen by others
• They love places of honor; they love attention
• They lead people to hell on the promise of heaven
• They profess one thing but live the opposite
• They adhere to religious rituals but not to God’s righteousness
• They appear clean (righteous) outwardly but inwardly are evil
• They are full of wicked deeds, greed, hypocrisy and self-indulgence
• They persecute those who are truly righteous in God’s sight

And that about sums up what we are being faced with yet today here in America with so many charlatans and wolves in sheep’s clothing serving as pastors of “church” congregations. For many of these “churches” are really businesses of men being run and operated just like businesses. And so they are marketing their businesses to the people of the world hoping that the people of the world will flock to their gatherings. And so they are being led by people who are teaching them how to attract the world to their gatherings.

And since their goal is to draw in large crowds of people from the world, they are patterning their gatherings after what the world is craving, and so they have altered the whole meaning of “church”, and they have diluted and altered the gospel of our salvation to make it more appealing to the people of the world. And so they are indeed leading many people to hell on the promise of heaven when they die, for they are not teaching that they must turn from their sins and follow Jesus in obedience to his commands.

They may go through the motions of religious practice, but they don’t really know God because obedience to the Lord is not what they practice, but sin is still what they practice. And they are followers of men and not true followers of Christ. Although they may be able to put on a show of some type of righteousness, they deny the Lord by their sinful practices and by their deliberate deceptions and by the fact that they will not submit to him as Lord, but sin is still their master.

For the gospel that is permeating the gatherings of what is called “church” today is a cheapened, altered, and diluted version of our Lord’s gospel message. For they are leading people to believe they can make a one-time profession of faith in Jesus Christ and now they are saved from their sins, all their sins are covered under the blood of Christ, and heaven is guaranteed them when they die regardless of how they live on this earth.

But Jesus said that if anyone wants to come after him he must deny self, take up his cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. For if we hold on to our old lives of living in sin and for self, we will lose them for eternity. But if for Jesus’ sake we die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, then we will live for eternity. And he said that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven but only the one DOING the will of God the Father in heaven.

So don’t listen to the lies. Listen to the truth. Don’t take people’s words as truth unless you have first tested their words against the Scriptures in their context, and what they are teaching agrees with the teachings of the Scriptures, and with Jesus’ teachings, and with the teachings of the New Testament apostles. So know what the Scriptures teach and then walk in obedience to the Lord, dying daily to sin and to self, living holy lives pleasing to the Lord Jesus.

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Awaken the Dawn

An Original Work / January 15, 2013
Based off Psalm 57 (NIV 1984)

O my God, have mercy on me!
In the Lord, my soul takes refuge.
In the shadow of Your wings, Lord,
I find shelter till the storms pass.
I cry out to my God Most High.
He fulfills His purpose for me.
He sent His Son to die for me,
So I could be saved.

I am in the midst of lions;
Men whose teeth are spears and arrows;
Whose tongues are sharp; words accusing.
They spread a net, my feet to catch.
They dug a pit, in hopes I’d fall.
O God, be exalted o’er all.
Let Your glory shine to all men,
So they may be saved.

Steadfast is my heart, O my God;
I will sing of all Your wonders.
Awake, my soul! Sing praise to God!
Early I will rise and praise Him!
I’ll praise God among the nations;
I will sing among the peoples.
God’s love reaches to the heavens,
So we may be saved.

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