Toxic Religion – Matthew 15:39-16:12; Mark 8:10-26

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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
December 6, 2015

Toxic Religion
Matthew 15:39-16:12; Mark 8:10-26

Introduction

For those of us who prefer it to be warm instead of cold, we are very grateful the Lord has favored us with a mild Autumn so far. We have had pleasant days and only a few frosty mornings. For those of you who are looking forward to having a lot of snow, have no fear, for winter will soon be here. I will admit that a clear winter day following a snow fall the night before is a gorgeous sight and a blessing to behold. In fact, it is so beautiful, I can even be happy when looking at it while taking breaks from the necessary task of shoveling paths in the frozen fluff.

As lovely as a winter landscape may be, there are also dangers that winter brings for which we must be cautious. All of us easily recognize that icy conditions make driving and walking outside treacherous, and extreme cold can quickly nip your ears and nose, so care must be taken to wear appropriate clothing.

Another danger exists inside your warm home which is not so easily recognized. Every year there are people that become sick and some even perish due to carbon monoxide poisoning. We have had people in our own congregation that have experienced carbon monoxide poisoning. Since it is colorless and odorless, you will be unaware of its presence unless you have a detector or notice its symptoms which include headache, dizziness, confusion, weakness, and upset stomach, vomiting and chest pain as it gets worse. A person who is sleeping can easily die before symptoms of the poisoning will wake them up. I trust that most of you are aware of these dangers and so have your heating system regularly serviced and make sure to properly vent when burning wood, coal, kerosene or gas inside a closed building.

Carbon monoxide is different from most poisons which either destroy tissues in your body or cause an organ to function improperly. For example, a cytotoxin or a caustic substance such as a strong acid or base will physically destroy living cells on contact. Neurotoxins, which can come from certain snake bites, botulism, particular pesticides or chemicals used in warfare, cause an overstimulation of your nervous system leading to convulsions, which if strong enough, can result in death. Carbon monoxide does not do either. It works because your body loves it so much.

When you breathe in, the oxygen in the air is transferred through the alveoli in your lungs and becomes attached to your red blood cells. They in turn circulate throughout the body and deliver the oxygen to where it is needed. Blood cells then pick up excess carbon dioxide and bring it back to the lungs where it transferred out through the alveoli and exhaled. Oxygen is inhaled and carbon dioxide is exhaled. Carbon monoxide, however, prevents this process from happening because the red blood cells like carbon monoxide so much that once they have it they do not want to pick up either oxygen or carbon dioxide. A person actually suffocates while breathing.

This morning we are going to look at another kind of poison that works in a similar way to carbon monoxide. It is a spiritual poison that condemns the soul to death because the human spirit prefers this poison to what it needs for life.

Turn to Mark 8:10 and put a bookmark there, then turn to Matthew 15:39-16:12 as we look at Jesus’ warning to His disciples to beware of poisoned religion. This passage begins with an example of this poison and then is followed by Jesus warning about it.

Toxic Religion Matthew 15:39- 16:4; Mark 8:10-12

“And sending away the multitudes, He got into the boat, and came to the region of Magadan. And the Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Him asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. But He answered and said to them, ‘When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times? An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.’ And he left them, and went away.”

We begin by noting that after Jesus fed the more than four thousand with seven loaves of bread and a few fish somewhere on a mountain looking over the Sea of Galilee in the region of Decapolis, Jesus and the disciples got into a boat and sailed to a region known as Magadan. Mark 8:10 refers to this as the region of Dalmanutha. This area is on the opposite side of the Sea of Galilee on the western shore between Tiberias and Gennesaret. This the area where Mary Magdalene was from.

This is another evidence that there were two separate and distinct events in which Jesus miraculously fed multitudes of people with very little food. After feeding the more than five thousand with five barley loves and two small fish, Jesus went back up the mountain and then met His disciples in the middle of the lake before proceeding to the plain of Gennesaret. After feeding the more than four thousand with seven loaves and a few fish, Jesus got into the boat with the disciples and sailed to Magadan.

This interchange between Jesus and the Pharisees and Sadducees demonstrates three truths about toxic religion. First, it is not concerned with the truth. Second, it is man-centered. Third, it understands the temporal, but not the eternal.

1) Toxic Religion is Not Concerned with the Truth

Notice in verse one that the Pharisees have now joined together with the Sadducees. That does not seem significant until you understand that these groups were opposites of each other. The Pharisees were the ultraconservatives basing their lives upon the traditions handed down to them. The Sadducees were the ultraliberals who cared nothing for the traditions and would compromise anything be it religious, cultural, or political if they thought it would be expedient to their cause.

The Sadducees were largely from the aristocracy and usually the High Priest and Chief Priests were from their ranks. The operators of the Temple concessions came from among them, and those franchises brought those den of thieves great wealth from the required money changing and selling the required certified sacrificial animals. They claimed to believe the Bible, but their materialistic bent so distorted its meaning that no significant meaning was left. They denied the existence of angels, the resurrection of the dead, and anything else supernatural.

The Pharisees were largely from the working class and many of them made their living in some sort of trade. They held to the Bible as being God’s Word and believed in angels, the resurrection, and God’s supernatural intervention into the lives of mankind. Their main problem was that their traditions had usurped the Scriptures. A point Jesus strongly rebuked them about before He left for Tyre (Matthew 15:1-20) as we have already seen..

For these two groups to come together they would have to set apart their many fundamental differences, and that fact demonstrates that the truth was not their major concern. The Scriptural proverb that “Two men cannot walk together unless they are agreed” is true. The common point of agreement for the Pharisees and Sadducees was that they wanted to destroy Jesus who is the way, the truth, and the life. The Sadducees wanted Jesus destroyed because Jesus interfered with their profiteering in the Temple when He had taken a scourge of cords and had driven them out while scattering the sheep and oxen and over turning the tables of the money changers (John 2:13f). The Pharisees wanted Jesus dead because Jesus did not follow their traditions and was becoming a threat to their power over the people.

Neither group was concerned about the truth. The Sadducees were already known to be pragmatists willing to compromise on almost anything if it would get them what they wanted. The Pharisees were really no different. They vocally claimed to be the keepers of the Mosaic Law and the rabbinic traditions, but they held the traditions of men over the truth of God’s revelations. Jesus had pointed this out in detail in several areas in the Sermon on the Mount. Their traditions not only caused them to stray from the Mosaic Law, in many areas it prevented them from following it. Their plotting to kill Jesus (Matthew 12:14) was contrary to the rabbinic teachings, so they also failed to follow their own traditions. In reality, they were like the Sadducees in being willing to compromise what they needed to in order to get what they wanted. Neither group was concerned about the truth.

2) Poisoned Religion Is Man-centered

Neither the Pharisees nor Sadducees were concerned about the truth because both were man-centered. Their demand of Jesus adds another demonstration of their man centered thinking. Notice again Matthew 16:1 states, “And the Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Him asked Him to show them a sign from heaven.” They were not seeking to learn from Jesus, but as the text states, “to test Him.Mark 8:11 states they “began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, to test Him.” They are not interested in the truth, but only in finding some way they could discredit Jesus and then destroy Him as previously revealed in Matthew 12:10-14, Mark 3:2-6; and Luke 6:6-7. They wanted to give Jesus a challenge they thought He would fail. They were so centered in on themselves that they failed to acknowledge what Jesus had already done. The challenge that they gave Him was one that Jesus had already fulfilled.

Their challenge specifically was for Jesus to show them a “sign from heaven.” The idea of a sign from heaven was specific. They were looking for Jesus to do something like had been recorded in the Old Testament where some miraculous thing had come out of heaven such as the manna that fed the Children of Israel in the wilderness, or the fire that Elijah called down in his confrontation with the prophets of Baal, or the Sun and Moon standing still like it did for Joshua.

The Sadducees thought that Jesus would certainly fail this test. Remember that they did not believe in the supernatural so they reasoned it would be impossible for Jesus to perform such a feat. And anyway, if Jesus did produce some sort of sign, there certainly would be some logical explanation of it.

The Pharisees also thought Jesus would fail. They believed in the supernatural, but they thought that only God could do a sign from heaven because Satan was limited to the earth, therefore Jesus could not perform such a sign because they believed His power came from Satan. They were wrong on both accounts.

Satan can perform signs in the sky as he did in Job 1:16 and 19 when Satan directed fire from heaven to fall on Job’s sheep destroying them. Satan also directed a great wind to come out of the wilderness and kill all of Job’s sons and daughters when it caused the house they were all in to collapse. We must be careful in interpreting supernatural occurrences because Satan is a deceiver and Paul warns in 1 Thessalonians 2 about Satan’s “power, signs and false wonders” by which he will deceive many. A miracle in itself does not in itself say whether it is from God or from Satan. You must examine whether it is in keeping with the Scriptures, its purpose, who is glorified by it, and its effect. If it is not in keeping with the Scriptures, it is not from God. If it is not done for a godly purpose to bring praise to God (not man) and it does not produce holiness in men, then beware.

The Pharisees were also wrong about Jesus. Jesus’ various miracles were in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophesies. They were done out of compassion for man to the glory of God, and they encouraged men in holiness. Both the type and nature of the miracles and signs that Jesus did point very clearly to the fact that He was from God. In fact, Jesus was the very sign that they were asking for. They wanted a sign from heaven and Jesus said in John 6, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.” Jesus was sent by God the Father from heaven to earth to redeem sinful man. All the evidence was already present demonstrating that, but the Pharisees and Sadducees were not interested in the truth nor in the things of God, but only themselves. They were man-centered.

The Pharisees and Sadducees had taken Judaism and poisoned it, and they found many followers who wanted what they had to offer. Just as our physical body craves carbon monoxide over what is best for it, so in religion man craves his own ideas and not God or His revelation. Man wants to be the center of his universe, the captain of his own fate, and so he finds a way to poison the revelation of God with a man-centered philosophy and then call the evil result “good.” He trades the truth of God’s Word and distorts it according to his own desire. The Daily News blatantly displayed this on Tuesday, 12/1/15.

This type of poisoned religion is still all around us, but it is not just in the false religions and cults. It can also be found in churches that claim to be evangelical and even fundamental. It is present in the watered down gospel of easy believism that presents God as a beneficent grandfather who will overlook any and everything you do rather than as the Holy and just Creator who loves you too much to let you remain in any sinful practice. It reveals its self when people try to earn their way to heaven through rituals and good works. True Christians do good works as a response to God’s love, not as a means to earn it. The poison of man-centered theology has swept into many churches in which Biblical Counseling centered in God’s grace and mercy to sinful men is replaced with secular psychology that is candy coated with Christian phrases. Poisoned religion is all around us, and it is recognized by its turning away from the truth of God’s word and becoming centered in the thoughts of man.

Toxic Religion Understands the Temporal, but Not the Eternal

Another mark of toxic religion is that it understands the temporal, but fails to understand the eternal. Notice the question that Jesus gives them in answer to their demand for a sign. In brief, Jesus questions why they can so easily discern the weather by looking at the sky, yet they cannot comprehend the signs of the epoch that is upon them. Mark 8:12 comments that Jesus said this sighing deeply in His spirit. There is sadness in His response pointing out that though they could easily recognize the signs that marked changes in the weather, which is something very temporal, transient, fleeting, yet they were blind to all the signs given by both Jesus and John the Baptist that the Messiah was present.

Because they were not concerned about the truth and they were man-centered, they were blind to what was in front of them. It is for that reason that Jesus concludes His answer to them in verse 4. “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then leaves without explaining what He meant by the sign of Jonah. This was His first public reference to His forthcoming death, but He left them alone in their spiritual blindness because they refused to see what was right in front of them. No sign would convince them of the truth. Not even if one should rise from the dead (Luke 16).

There are some that come Sunday after Sunday and hear about Jesus, but have still not responded to His claims to being God in human flesh and the only means of salvation from sin. If you have questions you are still trying to get answered that is fine, but you need to ask yourself what would it take for you to yield your life to Jesus as He is asking you to do? Jesus gives a strong warning to His disciples about the Pharisees and Sadducees in the next section of this passage. You need to take to heart the warning not to be like them for as Romans 1 also points out, God will eventually depart from a person that continues in unbelief.

Jesus’ Warning Matthew 16:5-12; Mark 8:13-26

I am going to read from the account in Mark 8:13 since it has more detail. 13 Leaving them, He again embarked and went away to the other side. 14 And they had forgotten to take bread, and did not have more than one loaf in the boat with them. 15 And He was giving orders to them, saying, “Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” 16 They began to discuss with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, (Matthew adding – “you men of little faith”), “Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart? 18 “having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember, 19 when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?” They said to Him, “Twelve.” 20 “When I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?” And they said to Him, “Seven.” 21 And He was saying to them, “Do you not yet understand?” Matthew adds, 12 Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

How often we are just like the disciples. They had just been with Jesus at the feeding of the more than 4,000 and they are now sailing back toward the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee near Bethsaida where He had miraculously fed the more than 5,000 only a matter of weeks prior, yet now their minds have quickly turned from the spiritual to the temporal, from the eternal to the transient. As they travel, they realize that they have not taken enough bread with them. Because their minds are fixed on that, they miss the point when Jesus seeks to turn His encounter with the Pharisees and Sadducees into a lesson for them. To make matters worse, instead of humbly asking Jesus to explain, they start discussing it among themselves. Are we not often like that?

Jesus made it clear in Matthew 6 that God will provide what we need for life if we will seek His kingdom and righteousness first. Yet, our minds can be so quickly filled with the temporal and routine things of life that we fail to learn the spiritual lessons and keep our priorities according to God’s commands and promises.

Here is my challenge to you. Your life will always be hindered until you learn this lesson. God wants you to be preoccupied with Him in living a moral and pure life and serving Him and not be worried about the common things of life. There is both a wonderful peace and sense of fulfillment when your life is God-centered instead of man-centered. There is also more joy and excitement because having your security bound in Him allows you to be bolder in life. You no longer have to rely on your own abilities to manipulate your environment.

Though the disciples missed the point initially, they understood the warning after Jesus’ relatively mild rebuke of them. Bread is bread regardless of who makes it – a devout Christian, a cultist, a Hindu, Buddhist or Muslim, a pagan, or an atheistic reprobate. The religious convictions of your baker, or mechanic, or doctor, or shoe salesman make little difference. You are not contaminated because you buy something or receive services from a non-Christian. However, the beliefs of those who teach you, counsel you, and advise you make a huge difference. That is Jesus’ warning and it still applies to us now.

Leaven is simply a way to illustrate the influence of a person. Just as a little yeast will leaven a whole loaf of bread, so it only takes a little influence from toxic religion to affect us. At minimum, the influence of poisoned religion will hinder your ability to properly serve the Lord, but left unchecked, it can turn you into an enemy of the cause of Christ even while claiming to serve Him. You could end up like those Jesus warned about at the end of Matthew 7.

What is the leaven of the Sadducees and Pharisees? The Pharisees were the legalists of their day. These religious hypocrites had traded the Word of God and His mercy and grace for man-made traditions and rituals. Their form of ungodliness was characterized by outward show without inward reality. It was external piety without internal righteousness. These sorts of people are still around us. Beware of people who say you should do this and not do that and are unable to back up what they say with a clear explanation from the Scriptures. A person who is inwardly righteous will humbly speak the truth of God’s word in love.

The Sadducees were the theological liberals of their day. They were materialistic and rationalistic. They denied angels, miracles, the resurrection, hell, and everything else beyond natural explanation. We still have such people around. They use religion for their own gain. Church is for social affairs, charitable works, and business contacts. They profess to be wise, but have become fools. They take pride in explaining away the plain meaning of Scriptures, but in doing so they reject the truth and deny the undeniable. I like what John MacArthur said of them.

“The liberal theologian does not prefer the speculations of philosophy or psychology because these are more provable or persuasive than the truths of Scripture but because he prefers man’s wisdom to God’s. And, contrary to his claim, the agnostic does not refuse to believe because he cannot know about God but because he will not know about Him. The person who turns to rationalism, evolution, skepticism, or simply to himself for meaning and purpose does not do so because of lack of evidence about God and Christ but in spite of it. The person who turns to man-made religion does not do so because no light about the true God is available but because he despises that light and that God.”

Taking Heed

The warning that Jesus gave to His disciples is one that all of us must also heed. How can you do that?

First, be a truth seeker. Be aware that there are many false teachers out there. If you blindly believe everything you hear and read, then you will find yourself in deep trouble. Remember that toxic religion is unconcerned about the truth and complacency is an ally to falsehood. You have to expend the energy to find out the truth. You have to check out what a person says and determine if it is fact or fantasy, the truth or a lie, reality or imagination. In Acts 17, Paul commended those in Berea because they “received the word with eagerness, examining the Scripture daily, to see whether these things were so.” They listened to what Paul said and then checked it against the Scriptures. You must do the same with what you hear on the radio and television, with what you read, and even with what I say.

Second, recognize that poisoned teaching is enticing by design. It sounds good to your selfish nature. It makes you feel good about yourself because it is man-centered. You must seriously examine your own motives. Why do you do what you do? Why do you refrain from doing what you don’t do? Are the decisions you make in life for your own benefit or for God’s glory? How do you spend your time? How do you spend your money? What occupies your thoughts? What do you pray for? Our purpose for existence is not the pursuit of happiness, but of holiness. Which are you pursuing?

Third, which do you understand more about: the temporal things of this earthly life or the things of God? Before you defend yourself and say your work requires you to spend your time with earthly things so of course you understand them more, let me make the question more pointed. Which are you more interested in understanding? The more you understand God, the greater your defense against toxic religion. Are you taking advantage of the opportunities to learn? Are you consistently involved in your own devotions and Bible Study? What do you read, listen to and watch? This church holds all sorts of Bible classes, worship services and encourages personal discipleship. The opportunities are all around you, but unless you make the effort to be involved with them, you will not grow.

Giving Sight to the Blind Mark 8:22-26

Mark’s account concludes with what happened once Jesus and the disciples arrived at their destination. 22 And they came to Bethsaida. And they brought a blind man to Jesus and implored Him to touch him. 23 Taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see men, for I see them like trees, walking around.” 25 Then again He laid His hands on his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly. 26 And He sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”

A few years ago I read an interesting article about the advances in medical treatments that were enabling some people who had been blind to be able to see. What was described is just like what happened in this text. Once people had regained the physical ability for sight, they could not make sense of what they were seeing. They would “see men like trees walking around.” The second step was to train their brains to make sense of what the eyes were viewing.

This was not one miracle performed in two steps, but two separate but related miracles. There is no record of Jesus ever only partly healing someone. He always brought about complete healing. The first miracle was restoring the physical ability of the eyes of the man to see. The second miracle was enabling the man’s mind to make sense of what was being seen.

Why does Mark include this miracle? Here are some possibilities. First, it again points to Jesus’ deity as it demonstrates His power. God.

Second, it also illustrates what Jesus had just been talking to His disciples about. Jesus can take care of any physical or spiritual need, they certainly did not need to be concerned about physical bread. Note that Mark records the references to sight that Jesus makes in His rebuke of the disciples – “Do you not yet see or understand? (vs. 17), and “Having eyes, do you not see? (vs. 18). Jesus restores the blind man’s sight and ability to understand what he was seeing. If they will continue to follow Jesus, He will give them the ability to see the truth and understand its application.

Third, it sets up a transition for what happens next as they continue to travel north to Caesarea Philippi and Jesus asks the disciples who people say that He is. We will examine that next week.

Sermon Notes: Toxic Religion
Matthew 15:39-16:12; Mark 8:10-26

Introduction

A Winter landscape is beautiful, but _______________ must be taken for the dangers

Carbon _______________is a danger within the home

Most poisons either cause _______________destruction or cause organs to malfunction

Carbon monoxide kills because your blood cells _______________to either oxygen or carbon dioxide

Spiritual poisons work on the ____________ like carbon monoxide does on the body

Toxic Religion Matthew 15:39- 16:4; Mark 8:10-12

Jesus & His disciples have traveled to Magadan (Dalmanutha) on the __________ side of the Sea of Galilee

Jesus miraculously fed ____________ separate and distinct multitudes

1) Toxic Religion is Not Concerned with the Truth

Sadducees were aristocratic, ultra-liberal, denied the ____________, and controlled the Temple concessions

Pharisees were working class, ultra-conservative, believed Scripture, but held their ___________as supreme

Pharisees & Sadducees could not work together unless they set aside ________________differences

The Sadducees wanted Jesus destroyed because He _______________ with their Temple business

The Pharisees wanted Jesus destroyed because He did not follow their _________________

The Sadducees were pragmatists and the Pharisees were hypocrites – neither were concerned for _________

2) Poisoned Religion Is Man-centered

They challenge Jesus to produce a _________from heaven which they do not think He can perform

The Sadducees ____________supernatural events, so did not think Jesus could produce such a sign

The Pharisees thought signs from heaven had to be from God & they ________Jesus’ claim to be from there

The Pharisees were wrong because Satan can perform signs in the __________- John 1:16, 18, 2 Thess. 2:9

The Pharisees were wrong because Jesus is from ________proven by His many miracles fulfilling prophecy

The Pharisees and Sadducees had ___________Judaism with man-centered philosophy & Scripture twisting

Teachers of toxic religion can be found even within churches professing to be _______________

3) Toxic Religion Understands the Temporal, but Not the Eternal

With a sigh Jesus points out they could discern signs of the weather but were ______to the signs of Messiah

Because they were evil, Jesus said they would only be given the sign of ________, which He did not explain

Beware of being like them and continuing to __________Jesus’ claims for God will abandon such a person

Jesus’ Warning Matthew 16:5-12; Mark 8:13-26

The disciples missed the point because their minds were fixated on what was _____________/ temporal

Jesus promises to provide for us, yet our minds can also become fixated on what is _____________

Learn to seek the Lord’s kingdom and His righteousness __________and then rest in His promise to provide

You are not ___________________by products you buy or services you receive from non-Christians

The danger is the “leaven” of ________by toxic teachers which can hinder you or even turn you from Christ

The Pharisees were the ___________of the day – those under similar influence are in danger

The Sadducees were the theological _____________of the day – those under similar influence are in danger

Taking Heed

1) Be a truth seeker like the Bereans who ________________what they heard against the Scriptures

2) Beware that poisoned teaching is ____________by design – seriously examine your own motives

3) Be interested in and _____________the things of God

Giving Sight to the Blind Mark 8:22-26

Two related miracles: 1) Gaining _____________sight. 2) Gaining ability to ______________what is seen

A) This miracle demonstrates Jesus’ ______________

B) This miracle illustrates Jesus can ________anything needed physical or spiritual – sight & understanding

C) It _________________to the question of who people say Jesus is

KIDS KORNER
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times “religion” is mentioned. 2) Discuss with your parents the difference between true religion and toxic religion

THINK ABOUT IT!

Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Winter landscapes are beautiful, but what dangers do they present? Why is carbon monoxide so dangerous? Where was Jesus and to where did He travel? How does this reinforce the truth that there were two separate and distinct miraculous feedings of multitudes? Who were the Sadducees? What did they believe? What was their view of truth? Why did they want to destroy Jesus? Who were the Pharisees? What did they believe? Why did they want to destroy Jesus? How did they comprise truth to pursue their own desires? Why did they want to destroy Jesus? Why were they demanding that Jesus produce a “sign from heaven”? Why did the Sadducees think Jesus would fail this test? Why did the Pharisees think Jesus would fail this test? What evidence is there that Satan can perform signs that come out of the sky? What evidence is there that Jesus is from heaven? What evidence have you seen that there are people similar to the Pharisees and Sadducees even within evangelical churches? Why were they able to discern the signs of the weather but unable to discern the signs given by both Jesus and John the Baptist of the epoch they were in? Why didn’t Jesus give them a sign? Why didn’t He explain the “sign of Jonah” to them? Why were the disciples concerned about physical bread? Why did that remain their focus even though they had seen Jesus miraculously feed multitudes? How did Jesus’ rebuke of them reveal His point so that they understood? How have you been like the disciples at times in missing the point of a spiritual lesson? What promises do you have that Jesus will provide for you? What conditions must be met for those promises to be fulfilled? Does the religious background matter for those that sell you things or provide a service to you? What was the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees? What similar dangers do you face today? What does it mean to be a truth seeker and how do you do that? Why is it necessary to combat the enticement of poisonous teachings with serious examination of your own motives? What is your level of interest in understanding the things of God? What do you currently do in pursuit of this? What are some things that you should do to improve your pursuit of it? What dangers do you face if you are more interested in pursuing the things of this world than in understanding the things of God?


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