Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees
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Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees

A Warning Against Legalism

In today’s lesson once again we have an example of Jesus caring about individual needs by feeding people miraculously. Once again we have the disciples not understanding the principle as to why. We learn in this passage that there are 2 types of thinking that will destroy faith and the advancement of the kingdom of God. We will look at those two types of thinking and see how they stop the kingdom of God from going forth.

image of pharisees

The beware of the leaven of the Pharisees Bible verse.

Mark 8:15 New Living Translation (NLT)

15 As they were crossing the lake, Jesus warned them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.”

Why Did Jesus Warn Us Of The Pharisees?

The Pharisees are seeking a sign. What is wrong with seeking a sign? Some would say that seeking a sign is wrong. That God doesn’t give signs anymore. Well, that is not entirely correct. It was not that they were seeking a sign but that they were demanding a sign. There is a big difference. You can see this difference in Matthew’s gospel chapter 16.

Matthew 16 New Living Translation (NLT)

Leaders Demand a Miraculous Sign

16 One day the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus, demanding that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority.

2 He replied, “You know the saying, ‘Red sky at night means fair weather tomorrow; 3 red sky in the morning means foul weather all day.’ You know how to interpret the weather signs in the sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the signs of the times! 4 Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign, but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Then Jesus left them and went away.

The difference between people wanting to know that God is real and the Pharisees is that they knew what signs to look for and had those signs all around them yet they were still seeking a sign.

Jesus points this out to them when He talks about they know how to discern the signs in the weather but they didn’t know how to discern the signs of the times. They wanted proof that fit into their expectations rather than just looking to see what was revealed.

Why do we need to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees?

The Pharisees were the religion of works. They had a performance mentality. They had taken the 10 commandments and turned them into 613 laws.

Their teachings and their mindset was was like yeast. When it is mixed with the gospel of grace it pollutes everything. It is no longer good news, it becomes a burden and a chore. Instead of bringing life, it brings death.

The Pharisees taught that by doing works you earned the pleasure of God. They taught that if you performed to a certain level of outward righteousness that you would then be okay with God.

This type of thought is prevalent in many churches today.

They teach that if you perform to a certain level with giving, or church attendance, or healthy lifestyle or any number of things that happens to be their pet peeve.

This is where the leaven of the Pharisees comes and turns what is a free gift of God into something that is earned by man.

Hebrews 11:6 says without faith it is impossible to please God. It is faith that pleases God and we have already exercised that faith when we put our trust in Christ and the finished work of Christ on the cross.

Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees featured image

The Christian life is a balance. We are not to go down the road to performance, nor are we to go down the road of explaining things away. We are to walk in the middle where we serve a living God who is present with us but always be reliant upon the unchanging grace and love that was provided by Jesus.

In order to have the kingdom of God advance it has to be advanced with total reliance upon God and upon what Jesus did at the cross. Not on our ability to rationalize or perform. That will lead to a false move of God and a false premise that will lead to unhealthy fruit.


Pastor Duke

Pastor Duke Taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.