PHARISEES

In the gospel of Matthew, chapter 16, verse 6, Jesus instructs his disciples to beware of the leaven
(teachings) of the Pharisees.  He gives the same warnings in the gospel of Mark 8:15 and in Luke
12:1.  Jesus' rebuke towards the Pharisees is one of the most important themes of the New
Testament.  It is important, because false doctrines can cripple and destroy the faith of Christianity.   
Many of today's religious leaders are the modern counterpart to the Pharisees of Jesus' time.  

The Pharisees were a continual source of abuse and ridicule for Jesus.  His teachings were
constantly at odds with the Pharisees and their doctrines.  It is to this conflict that Jesus restates the
prophecy of Isaiah in Matthew 15:8-9,  "These people draw near to Me honoring Me with their lips but
their hearts are distant from Me.  And in vain do they worship Me teaching as doctrine rules made by
men."

The Pharisees were an educated elite who controlled and dominated the religious lives of the Jewish
people.  They considered themselves to be the only ones that could interpret scripture correctly. To
disagree with these spiritual leaders was to risk severe penalties of censure, ostracism,
imprisonment, torture and death.  The torture and crucifixion of Jesus is the ultimate example of the  
hatred the Pharisees had for the Truth which was at odds with their doctrines.  It was the oral
tradition that was necessary for the "correct" interpretation of the law.   By the words of Jesus in
Matthew 15:6 such oral traditions did nothing for the law but only against it as He said,  "You have
made the commandment of God void because of your tradition."  It was the oral tradition of the law
that enabled the Pharisees to want Jesus killed and yet believe they were not in violation of the
commandment,  "You shall not murder."  To the Pharisees, as long as they did not commit murder by
their own hands, they were absolved of all blood guiltiness.  So, they invalidated God's command,  
"You shall not murder" by their oral tradition.

The Lord will judge sins of the heart; but It was neither the Jews or the Roman authorities that killed
Jesus.  Concerning His life, Jesus makes this statement in John 10:18,  "No one takes it away from
Me, but I lay it down on My own authority.  I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up
again.  I received this commandment from My Father."  "I am the Good Shepherd; the Good
Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep."  John  10:11

This same disparity between religious leaders and their followers is maintained today, exactly as it
was 2,000 years ago.  Specifically, it is the disparity between the Christian "layperson" and the
doctors of theology, ministers, and all those who have been trained and indoctrinated by
denominational and religious institutions.  Through the official certification of such "ministers,"
the distance between the ministers and the laymen is maintained. It is exactly the same relation as
the Pharisees had to their Jewish congregations.  The election of God often has little to do with the
calling and training of such modern Pharisees which are the leadership of today's apostate
denominations.

The situation is just as bad as the Lord prophesied in Jeremiah 14:14,  "The prophets are
prophesying lies in My Name.  I did not send them, I have not commanded them and I did not speak
to them; they prophesy to you a lying vision and divination, a thing  of nothing from the deceit of their
own hearts."  And the word of the Lord comes again for our time in Ezekiel 13:2-6,  "Son of man
prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy from their own heart, Hear the word of the
Lord!  Thus says the Lord God, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have
seen nothing.  Israel, your prophets have been like foxes in the waste places.  You have not gone up
into the gaps, neither have you built up the wall for the house of Israel to stand in the battle on the
day of the Lord.  They have seen falsehood and lying divination who are saying, The Lord says; but
the Lord has not sent them.  They have made men hope that their words would be confirmed.'"

The Lord prophesies further to them in Jeremiah 8:8-9,  "How do you say, 'We are wise, and the law
of the Lord is with us'? But behold, the false pen of the scribes has worked in lies.  The wise men are
in distress, they are dismayed and trapped; behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord, and
what kind of wisdom is in them?"  The kind of wisdom they have are satanic lies.  As the Lord says
through Ezekiel  13:5,  "...neither have you built up the wall for the house of Israel to stand in the
battle on the day of the Lord."  The modern Pharisees, because they do not prophesy by the word of
God, by His Holy Spirit, are prophesying according to the spirit of disobedience which is Satan.  One
of the most consistent false prophecies is seen in Jeremiah 14:13,  "Then I said, Lord behold, the
prophets tell them, You will not see the sword neither will you have famine, but I will give you assured
peace in this place."  The modern Pharisees are not bringing the people to a proper knowledge of
the Truth to prepare them for the day of the Lord.  They are not getting Christians ready for
persecution, tribulation, or the wrath of God which will also come against believers according to His
will.  Just as the Lord tells us in Jeremiah 30:11,  "For I am with you, says the Lord, to save you: for I
will make a full end of all the nations where I have scattered you but I will not make a full end of you,
but I will correct you in measure, and will not leave you unpunished."

The Pharisees put themselves and their doctrines in place of the believers relationship with God as
Jesus says in Matthew 23:13,  "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off
the kingdom of heaven from men; for you do not enter in yourselves, neither do you allow those who
are entering to go in."  The final product of this quenching of the Spirit and despising of prophetic
utterances (1 Thessalonians 5:19-20) is foretold in Isaiah 30:11,  "Get out of the way, turn aside from
the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us."  And so, as Jesus said in Matthew
15:14,  "If the blind guide the blind, both will fall into a pit."

Pharisees have sold out to the world.  "There is a conspiracy of her prophets in its midst, like a
roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls; they take treasure and precious things;
they have made  widows in its midst." Ezekiel  22:25   The prophet, Micah, makes a similar statement
in chapter 3:11,  "Her leaders judge for bribes, and her priests teach for a price, and her prophets
tell fortunes for money.  Yet they lean on the Lord saying, 'Is not the Lord in the midst of us?  No evil
can come upon us.'"

All these things; the self anointed man, the denial of the Hoy Spirit, the false doctrines and
prophecies along with the prostitution of the apostasy with materialism and worldly goals are entirely
satanic.  Jesus states this  in John 8:44,  "You are of your father the devil and you want to do the
desires of your father."  He is going to rescue those who will repent of their evil deeds as the Lord
said in Ezekiel 34:10,  "Thus says the Lord: 'Behold I am against the shepherds and I will require my
sheep from their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the sheep; neither shall the
shepherds feed themselves any more, and I will deliver my sheep from their mouth, that they may not
be food for them."

Let us clean out the old leaven to become the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.          
(1 Corinthians 5:6-80)
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