In the sixteenth chapter of Matthew Jesus rebuked the leaders of the Jews, the Pharisees and Sadducees, for seeking a sign and not discerning the times.
Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from Heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be foul weather, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed. Matthew 16:1-4
Why did Jesus call them hypocrites? Because they had seen and heard enough to know that Jesus Christ was the Messiah, but refused to believe and then hid behind their unbelief by demanding that He show them a sign from Heaven. They refused to receive Him as the Messiah because He didn’t acknowledge them by seeking their authentication, and He exposed them as charlatans peddling their false teaching and devilish doctrines.
Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have taken no bread.” But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up: Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?-but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees? Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Matthew 16:6-12
Jesus warned them against the false teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees, which epitomizes all false teaching both now and through the ages.
Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? Fro they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? “For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’, and , ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”-‘then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” Matthew 15:1-9
For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both. Acts 23:8
False teaching either puts the traditions or opinions of men in the place of God’s Word or the false teaching outright denies and contradicts God’s Word. In the first place are denominations and churches that elevate their mere opinions to have supremacy over the Word of God, almost all religious institutions and churches are of this sort, and the second place belongs to modernists who deny the supernatural aspects of the Scriptures and thus deny the Scriptures, almost all mainline denominations belong to this category. Jesus’ words to such are they are hypocrites who commit wicked spiritual adultery. His word to His followers is the same He gave to His undiscerning disciples, watch out and be discerning. Watch out for the doctrines of unbelievers and be discerning! Having discernment means we need to understand and discern the times that we live in.
There are many signs given in Scriptures that we are in the last days. Let’s take a look at a few of the verses that reveal the times that we are living in so that we may be discerning and not taken unawares.
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. 1 John 2:18-19
Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:1-4
Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,… 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3
The last days are marked by those who oppose Christ and/or put themselves in the place of Christ, something that abounds at this time. They have the same trademarks as the Pharisees and Sadducees; those who place their man made doctrines in the place of God’s Word, and those who consider the teaching and history of the Scriptures to be fairy tales and myths. Those who oppose Christ and try to replace Him, reject the teaching of the Scriptures and place their opinions, traditions, and doctrines of demons in the place of the sure Word of God. False teachers today also promote heresy regarding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, by rejecting His return or opposing the obvious and clear teaching of the Scriptures about Jesus Christ’s return. Through their false teaching, hypocrisy, and wicked spiritual adultery they have raised up legions of false converts. Many of these false brethren are their rabid devotees, while others fall away from their false profession and reject belief in God altogether. Many false converts become the most ardent and ferocious proponents of atheism and attack Christianity at every turn.
Let us not get discouraged by the compromise and apostasy all around us, for God has forewarned us in the Scriptures that this would be the case. As we discern between the true and the false let us hold fast to the promises and encouragement of the Scriptures to strengthen our hearts and resolve.
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. Jude 20-21
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen. Jude 24-25
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25
We need to make sure that we depend upon the indwelling Holy Spirit and the written Word of God, the Bible to keep us safe from these predators sent the by evil one. We also need to depend upon one another to love and encourage one another, and exhort each other. Our greatest source of protection, though, comes from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is able to keep us from being misled into the sin of false teaching and to keep us for His glory, dwelling eternally with Him, pure and undefiled, filled with abundant joy. As we discern the times let us keep looking up for the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and love and encourage one another, staying true to our Lord and Savior.