In the New Testament, Jesus warned his disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

The gospel of Matthew tells us that Jesus was referring to the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees, yet in Luke’s account, Luke says the leaven of the Pharisees is hypocrisy.

What is the connection between the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, and Sadducees and doctrine?

Well, many think of doctrine as a creed, or a theological perspective. Yet, in Biblical language, a person’s doctrine is the kind of life they actually live and not their creed, or what they claim to believe.

The doctrine of the Pharisees was hypocrisy because that is what they actually put into practice in their lives. Consider the following from Matthew 23:

Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not after their works: for they say and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. ~ Matthew 23:1-4

Jesus then referred to the Pharisees and Scribes as hypocrites in verses 13,14,15, 23, 25, 27 and 29.

Hypocrisy was the doctrine of the Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees. Rather than living according to the Law and being an example to the people, they condemned others with the Law, while they themselves did not live according to the Law.

This is why the response of Jesus was so brilliant when the Scribes and Pharisees brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus. They were condemning her for her sin, and not addressing their own sin, which the law exposes.

Jesus gave them the invitation that if any among them were guiltless, they could cast the first stone. Jesus actually turned the law back toward them, and the very law that they desired to condemned her with, exposed their own hypocrisy.

In 1 Timothy, Paul says the following the following:

Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. ~ 1 Timothy 1:9-11

Notice that in speaking of things contrary to sound doctrine, Paul does not reference theology, ideologies, creeds, or religious tenets. Instead, Paul addresses behavior and conduct, because doctrine is what we live, and having sound doctrine means we live according to the faith we profess to believe.

In 1 Timothy 4, when Paul speaks of the doctrines of demons, he again refers to actions such as speaking lies in hypocrisy; having the conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

Later in verse 16 Paul says, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.”

Paul is not saying to Timothy that he would save himself and others by having the right creed or theological points of view. According to scripture, those who are justified by faith “live by faith” (Hebrews 10:38) and “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). In Titus, Paul speaks much about doctrine in regards to how we live, and refers to those who claim to know God but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate (Titus 1:16).

This is what Paul is referring to when he tells Timothy, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.”

Paul was not referring to an ideology, or a set of religious tenets. Paul is referring to the conduct and behavior which is the living out of our faith. Notice the previous verses which are the context of Paul’s instructions to Timothy:

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. ~ 1 Timothy 4:12-15

Verse 15 in the Amplified Bible says: Practice and work hard on these things; be absorbed in them [completely occupied in your ministry], so that your progress will be evident to all.

Doctrine is what we live in your everyday life. It is not the tenet or creed that you claim to believe.


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