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Leaven of the Pharisees

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A Sermon on Luke 12:1-12

Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees

In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

Have No Fear

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Acknowledge Christ Before Men

“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” (ESV)

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In his sermon, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones visits Luke 12:1-12 on the topic of hypocrisy and how it relates to Christians today. He asks, “What is the enemy to Christian life?” Hypocrisy. It remains a terrible liability to the believer’s walk, because, as Dr. Lloyd-Jones defines, it is a desire to be both Christian and non-Christian. Good hypocrites, like the Pharisees, take pleasure in defining themselves by their own self-satisfactory terms. This mindset is a direct reflection of the heart, Dr. Lloyd-Jones says, and the believer has a responsibility to look after his or her heart. Here, Dr. Lloyd-Jones breaks down the three archetypes for Christian hypocrites: the Intellectual, the Emotional, and the Practical. Each has its own habits, but are similar in their desperate need for the Spirit. What is the opposite of hypocrisy, then? To Dr. Lloyd-Jones, it is the admission of weakness – that a person cannot live both a Christian and non-Christian life. In turn, this admission creates a dependence on God that dispels this dishonest duality and replaces it with even more of His Spirit. In closing, he reminds us to not let the fear of men drive Christians to hypocrisy, but rather to trust in the heavenly Father and His plan for the fullest life.


Additional Scripture Translations

Luke 12:1-12, New American Standard Bible

God Knows and Cares

1Under these circumstances, after so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were stepping on one another, He began saying to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. 3Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.

4“Now I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed someone, has the power to throw that person into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! 6Are five sparrows not sold for two assaria? And yet not one of them has gone unnoticed in the sight of God. 7But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not fear; you are more valuable than a great number of sparrows.

8“Now I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before people, the Son of Man will also confess him before the angels of God; 9but the one who denies Me before people will be denied before the angels of God. 10And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him. 11Now when they bring you before the synagogues and the officials and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; 12for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

Luke 12:1-12, King James Version

1In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. 3Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. 4And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. 6Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? 7But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. 8Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: 9But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. 10And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven. 11And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: 12For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.


About Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.