Missing the Point?

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.

What are the two main thoughts here? The first one I see has to do with us, as Christ’s followers, missing entirely what he is trying to say to us, his people. We think maybe we understand, but our minds are in a different direction than the Lord’s, for perhaps we are thinking more with our flesh than we are discerning with the Spirit. And the second main thought has to do with us watching out that we don’t get tricked by those who are spreading evil disguised as truth. We need to be discerning of teaching which modifies and dilutes the truth in order to spread the lies of the enemy.

Are You Missing the Point?

When Jesus said to the disciples to watch and beware the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees, the disciples thought Jesus was talking about actual physical bread, for leaven is sometimes used to make bread. They thought that because they had forgotten to bring bread. So, Jesus chided them for having little faith, because they were thinking more in the physical realm than they were thinking in the spiritual realm. And then they understood that he was warning them against the spreading influence of evil in the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

But as I was thinking about this, it occurred to me that we might sometimes do likewise, thinking that the Lord is trying to show us one thing while he is talking about something else. Or we might read a passage of Scripture and only see it superficially and not really get the true message contained within and what it is really saying to us. And part of that could be because we are focused on the physical realm and so we aren’t really sensitized to the spiritual realm.

So, the point here is that we can read the Scriptures sometimes and totally miss the point of what they are teaching because our minds are someplace else at the time, or because we already have a fixed thought in our minds with regard to what the passage is saying. Or it could be we are busy with other things and so we aren’t really focusing our attention fully on whatever it is the Lord wants to teach us. And so it is good if we pay close attention to what we read, and if we pray for understanding so that we do not miss the point of what the Scriptures are teaching us.

The Spreading Influence of Evil

Now the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees was that they were spreading a teaching and an influence that was contrary to the teachings of the Scriptures. For it was a false righteousness based on human traditions and not on holiness and righteousness. It was based on doing works of the flesh disguised as righteous deeds, and to be seen by others, but not to please God. And it was based on externals and not on matters of the heart. And they were hypocrites who did not practice what they taught.

They professed one thing but lived the opposite, and they adhered to religious rituals, but not to God’s righteousness. They appeared clean (righteous) on the outside, but inwardly they were full of evil. For they were full of wicked deeds, and they were greedy, hypocritical, and self-indulgent. And they were those who persecuted those who were truly righteous in God’s sight (see Matthew 23). Well, at least this described the scribes and the Pharisees, but Jesus often clumped the Pharisees and the Sadducees together in his criticisms.

The point here is that they were not teaching faith in Jesus Christ, and they were not teaching death to sin and living to God’s righteousness. They were teaching legalism and self-righteousness and rules and traditions of man, not of God. And they were way more concerned with how things looked on the outside than they were concerned over what was stored up in their hearts, and with whether or not their behaviors were righteous in God’s sight.

But now evil influences are not confined just to legalism. Evil influences are in all false gospels of human origin where the gospel is being modified and lightened to make it less offensive to the people of the world and to be more pacifying to the flesh of man. So those who appear to shun legalism will often become libertines who soften the gospel to make it less severe, and who give the impression that a mere one-time in our lives profession of faith in Jesus Christ is enough to secure us salvation from sin and eternal life with God. And so they do not insist on death to sin and living to God.

Still Missing the Point?

So, going back to the first thing about missing the point, this is where many professing Christians are today who have only a superficial idea of what salvation from sin really entails or what all is part of genuine faith in Jesus Christ. They think that Jesus died on that cross merely so that they could be forgiven of their sins so that they can go to heaven one day. But they are missing the point of why Jesus died on that cross. And that was to deliver us from our slavery to sin so we would now be servants of righteousness and those who are now walking in holiness and in obedience to our Lord.

So, don’t be among those who are missing the point. Pay close attention to Jesus’ words. For he said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily 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 the sake of Jesus we die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, then we have eternal life with God. And he said that not everyone saying, “Lord, Lord,” to him will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one DOING the will of God the Father in heaven.

[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]

For Our Nation

An Original Work / September 11, 2012

Bombs are bursting. Night is falling.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Trust Him with your life today.
Make Him your Lord and your Savior.
Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus.
He will forgive you of your sin;
Cleanse your heart, made new within.

Men betraying: Our trust fraying.
On our knees to God we’re praying,
Seeking God to give us answers
That are only found in Him.
God is sovereign over all things.
Nothing from His mind escaping.
He has all things under His command,
And will work all for good.

Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.

Men deceiving: We’re believing
In our Lord, and interceding
For our nation and its people
To obey their God today.
He is our hope for our future.
For our wounds He offers suture.
He is all we need for this life.
Trust Him with your life today.

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