Beware of the teachings of the religious conservatives and liberals.
Western politics is increasingly dividing between right wing and left wing. A significant component of this is conservativism vs. liberalism. We all tend to one side or the other. In fact, every few years, we must choose which we prefer. It seems this polarity has been with us since forever. Both have great values and great weaknesses.
Matthew 16:6 Then Jesus said to them, “Take care and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”
Jesus earlier described how leaven, which is like yeast, has spiritual significance.
Matthew 13:33 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour until it was all leavened.”
In the Bible, leaven generally represents impurity i.e. sin. In this parable, Jesus likens how just a little bit of yeast can make a lot of dough rise. It’s interesting that it’s “hidden” in the dough. You can’t see it, but it has a substantial effect on the dough. The Jewish feast of unleavened bread precedes the Passover, which became Easter. This feast begins with purging all leaven from Jewish homes. They then eat bread, made with no rising agent. This represents us purging all sin from our lives as we look to God’s saving plan for humanity and us personally.
The Pharisees and Sadducees dominated Judaism around Jesus’ time. The Pharisees can be described as religiously conservative and legalistic. The Sadducees tended to be very liberal and conforming to secular society.
The Pharisees we renown theologians. They schooled men from birth in how to understand scripture. However, their interpretation of scripture took precedence over scripture itself. Jesus denounced the Pharisees particularly for adding extremely pointless human traditions upon God’s law. For example, they stretched the law forbidding the pagan practice of boiling a baby goat in its mother’s milk, to the modern separation of all meat and milk in Jewish meals, even having separate kitchens for preparing meat or milk.
The Sadducees focused on fitting in with the secular government. They compromised God’s law for secular thinking and standards. They particularly considered the history of the Bible to be allegorical stories, that were made up to demonstrate moral principles. They taught that people should not worry so much about the antiquated laws of Moses, but rather fit in with the times. Jesus pulled them up for their rejection of the resurrection and life after death.
Where the Pharisees added to God’s law, the Sadducees took away from God’s law. At the end of the Bible, we read a warning against both.
Revelation 22:18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book. If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book. 19And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away their part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
I think this is applicable to the entire Bible, not just this last book. I find this reminiscent of Deuteronomy 28’s blessings and curses for the obedience or disobedience of God’s law.
Both the Pharisees and the Sadducees violate God’s word. They either add distracting human traditions to it or teach people to ignore it. Both favored human philosophies to the ancient truths revealed since creation. Jesus chastised both for neglecting the essence of God’s word.
Today, in the church, we see similar forces and behavior dominating and distracting Christians from the truth of God’s word.
Conservatives tend to hang on to what they’ve been taught from their predecessors. They hold on to their traditions and are highly resistant to change. They get religiously upset when people suggest their traditions might be wrong and tend to judge those who worship differently. They have their program or liturgy, which must be followed. They impose on others that you must do things their way. If someone deviates from this, they’re keen to pick up stones to purge such wickedness from their midst. Among these, we find those who insist on living according to Jewish law, even when such practices are forbidden for non-Jews. There are also those who see paganism in everything, due to something they heard from somewhere, yet when investigated, we discover that Judeo-Christian roots preceded the added pagan practices. Halloween is the best example of this, deriving from Noah’s remembrance of the death brought by the great flood.
Liberals tend to put aside the ancient scriptures, relegating God’s word to the invention of a primitive people. They love the grace and mercy bits of the gospel but ignore the necessity of personal repentance and a quest for purity. They ignore huge swathes of God’s word, teaching them to be of human invention. They deny the good news by denying the bad news that we are doomed to be judged in Hell for our sins. Without this truth, the good news of Jesus’ sacrifice for us is pointless.
Both miss the point of God’s word being the perfectly complete truth. It is the only perfectly reliable historical account, including history yet future. Both miss out on the supernatural manifestation of God’s miracles and healings. Through their neglect of God’s word, they grossly misinterpret near-future prophecy, and get really upset with other interpretations.
Matthew 7:21 Not everyone who calls me Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but those who do the will of my father in heaven. 22Many will say to me on judgement day, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, cast out demons in your name and perform many miracles in your name?” 23To them I’ll reply, “I never knew you, depart from me, you who practice lawlessness”
Growing up, one of my peers asked, “Is God working in our denomination, or in spite of our denomination?” This very poignant question is always worthy of consideration, regardless of one’s tendencies. Do our worship practices lead us to experience God’s goodness, or are we distracted from God being able to work in our lives?
In combatting the church’s traditions 500 years ago, Martin Luther is associated with the Latin term “solo scriptura” – “scripture alone”. The Bible was then only available to the clergy, who controlled this with the attitude that “the common people are too dumb to understand scripture”. They preached all sorts of weird ideas, including paying to get into heaven. When people like Luther translated the Bible into the common language, this brought about an enlightenment, whereby clergy became accountable to the people who could read for themselves God’s word. This led us out of the dark ages and opened the way for much scientific progress. A few hundred years later, human reasoning rejected the truth of Biblical history. They invented naturalistic, humanist explanations contrary to history carried through the ages around the world. Liberal influences in the church, realigned their understanding of the Bible to accommodate this so-called science. Today, most Bible colleges accommodate evolution and thereby undermine the foundation of the true Biblical narrative for the sake of a pseudo-science that offers no explanation for its contradiction of scientific laws, and experimental and experiential data. This leads to a severe lack of understanding of what the Bible’s about – an historical account, which reliably declares the future.
2 Timothy 3:1 But know this, that in the last days, will be dangerous times. 2People will be self-centered, greedy, boasters, proud, slandering God and disobeying parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control and brutal. They will hate everything that is good. 4They’ll be traitors, headstrong, arrogant, and desire pleasure more than God. 5They will have a form of godliness but deny its real power. Flee from such people! 6For their sort creep in and take captive gullible women, who are weighed down with sins, led away by various lustful desires. 7They are always studying, but never able to arrive at the knowledge of the truth.
The Bible is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Galatians 1:8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let them be cursed.
Be very wary of anyone, who says that any part of the Bible is not important. They are preaching a different gospel than what is recorded in the Bible and thereby we should consider them cursed.