Understanding Spiritual Warfare: Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees
July 31, 2017
Understanding spiritual warfare is a multi faceted truth; complex and yet simple. It is complex in the fact of remaining consistent by taking action against the areas or “territories,” of the first inroads of opposition, which are our minds and flesh. The “mind” has to be renewed by the Word of God and then applied. Then the results are knowing what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God. The “flesh” must be brought under subjection to God’s Word so that we may present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God which is our reasonable service. Romans 12:1-2. The simple truth is that Father God is good, as Jesus states in Mark 10:18.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11.
When the enemy of our soul attempts to convince us the opposite of this verse, then he can entrap us, but when we know and understand the Father God and His intentions toward us, then we become acutely aware of Satan’s deceptions.
Now, I want to move onto some of the “bewares” of the New Testament and how they apply to us in reference to spiritual warfare.
Let’s begin by looking at the meaning of the word “beware.” Beware means “to be wary,” “cautious,” or “careful of” (usually used imperatively). Imperatively has the stronger meaning indicating, “absolutely necessary or required; unavoidable: of the nature of or expressing a command; commanding.”
The word “beware” is a serious word and is not to be taken lightly, however, in the Strong’s Concordance the word “beware” means, “to see, discern, of the bodily eye.” Either way, in my opinion, this word has the implication that we are to be discerning, thereby posturing ourselves to “be” at “war,” or “beware.”
The first “beware” I want to look into is when Jesus said to His disciples, “..take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” Mathew 16:8.
Who were the Pharisees and the Sadducees?
Well, I could go into an in-depth study of those two people groups, but it would only leave me totally exhausted, and I don’t believe I would fulfill my purpose, so I’m only going to give a general overview. The real emphasis is recognizing a “religious spirit” and how we can become vunerable and then become it’s victim.
The Pharisees were a sect, a spin off from the Scribes, and the Scribes were the transcribers of the law of Moses, which was given by God. The Sadducees were also a sect, that was a spin off from the priesthood of the tabernacle, which was also given by God’s instruction to Moses. The Pharisees held to strict observance of religious ceremonies and practices, with the adherence to oral laws and traditions, and a belief in an afterlife with the coming of a Messiah. The Sadducees rejected oral laws and traditions, and the denial of an afterlife and the coming of the Messiah. The Pharisees carried the greater influence over the Hebrew people, more so than the Sadducees. The Sadducees were filled with unbelief, but the Pharisees held to the Hebrew’s traditions and hopes of a Messiah.
In my observation, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and the Scribes, more so, than the Sadducees. The Sadducees were not looking for a Messiah anyway, so He did not propose a direct threat to their sect. However, concerning the Pharisees, Jesus had become enemy number one. Jesus’ preeminent teaching, preaching, and the demonstration of the kingdom of God had such a growing influence over the people it meant the prospect of total elimination for their sect. The Pharisees were the spiritual government, ruling over the territory with Hebrew law.
I consider the Pharisees the “spiritual mafia” of the day, “the muscle,” always portraying God as the “godfather” rather than “Father God.” Jesus took great issue with that whole concept of control and based on that approach, He never hesitated calling them out on it. But as a result, their hate intensified against Him, ultimately leading to His crucifixion and death. They thought they were rid of Him, but little did they know, no one can kill the “Word of God.” Jesus’ body is still alive, just as His “Word” is still alive and lives on forever.
Next time, let’s look at the behavior of the Pharisees and how it caused oppression to the Hebrew people. Then, we can with an open eye, see and discern the enemy which is a religious spirit.
“Are ye so foolish having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” Galatians 3:3.
“Beware of the corruption of the Pharisees.”