“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.'” Matthew 16:6 This is a stern warning and it needs to be a warning to all of us concerning the religious leaders we listen to. What IS the leaven of the religious teachers? vs 12: “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.” Jesus called the religious leaders hypocrites. Hypocrites use religion for their own selfish purposes. People flock to them because they’ve made a name for themselves and usually have a large following, but they are filled with hypocrisy, seeking money, fame, and the praise of men. Jesus solemnly warned to beware of this. “But all their works they do to be seen by men… …They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’” Matthew 23:5-7 Jesus had the harshest, scathing rebukes for them. He called them “white-washed sepulchres.” A sepulchre is a fancy tomb. Full of what? Dead men’s bones. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” Matthew 23:27 They craft their “teachings” for money, twisting Scripture to back themselves up. “For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother…’ …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.” Matthew 15:4-5 In other words, they taught that believers should take whatever they would have spent on their parents’ care, and give it to the Temple as “a gift to God,” meaning, to themselves of course, for that was their intent. In using Scripture, they actually changed the meaning of the Word of God to their advantage. Does it sound familiar? Do you know any teachers or preachers who make you promises if only you will send them money? Do they tell you that what you send is “a gift to God,” for which God will return to you a great blessing? It is true that when you give to a ministry it IS a gift to God, so that that ministry can survive. But first you have to examine the motives of the ones conducting the ministry. Do they live in mansions from the proceeds of your giving? Do they stay at first-class five-star hotels when they travel? Do they travel in their own multi-million dollar jet? Take a look at the lifestyles of those you listen to, and if you see this kind of shenanigans, understand that these are wolves in sheeps’ clothing. BEWARE of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Matthew 7:15 The deceit is fostered by their charismatic personalities and powers of persuasion. They make themselves look good, so it’s usually hard to recognize it. They have pleasing personalities. All smiles. They know how to present themselves before people in order to get money out of them. They make fake promises using Scripture to convince you. They are con men, plain and simple. And it’s hard to discern a con man. Jesus Christ entered the city of Jerusalem ...on a donkey. One thing you can be sure of, you’d never see them on this generation’s equivalent of a donkey. Before you decide whom to support, make it a matter of serious prayer, otherwise your money may be going to support their lavish lifestyles. Any minister of the Gospel who lives in a mansion and flies in his own jet, staying at the best places wherever he/she goes, is always going to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Run from these. You’ve been duped. RUN.