Matthew 16:5 When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. 6 Jesus said to them, "Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." 7 And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, "We brought no bread." 8 But Jesus, aware of this, said, "O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? 9 Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 11 How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." 12 Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
The Pharisees and Sadducees taught a righteousness by works, by keeping the Law. Paul tried to gain righteousness by keeping the Law and testified, "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:24). The teaching of a righteousness by works has no power to restrain the indulgence of the flesh (sin nature). We are warned by Jesus to be in a high state of alert concerning any teaching that instructs we attain righteousness by what we do. Read Romans 7:7-24 to get the message of what the Law can and cannot do. The Pharisees taught an external righteousness that leaves us full of uncontainable sin that keeps seeping out into our lives (Matthew 23:26-28)
Jesus teaches us to gain an internal righteousness by repenting of our sin and believing the gospel. The gospel: Christ died on the cross for our sin, rose again from the dead on the third day, Jesus is Lord (read 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 10:9). When we believe the gospel, we are cleansed on the inside, we receive the Holy Spirit and have the power to live a new life, leaving the habits of sin behind (Read Ephesians 1:13-14, 19-20; 3:20; 2 Peter 1:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Read a Pharisee of Pharisees warning and testimony in Philippians 3:2-11; Romans 7:25-8:4.
When we walk by faith in Jesus, we can restrain the indulgence of the flesh. We can walk free from the power of sin, because we have the power of the Holy Spirit. Read and meditate on the Scriptures I have given in this short devotional. Let Jesus lead you to understand the righteousness that comes by faith, just as He helped the disciples to understand and grow in faith.