The Apostle Paul warns the Church that a little leaven leavens the whole lump. What is leaven and what does it do? Hey, we all know that leaven is a substance like yeast or baking powder that causes the entire lump of dough to rise, but can God have a deeper meaning in mind?
God gave Moses instructions that the people were to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread:
“So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat—that only may be prepared by you.
So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance.
In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread” (Exodus 12:14-20)
Did you know that during this period God wanted no leaven in their houses and anyone found eating leaven bread was to be cut off from his people? God still holds this view today!
God warns of two types of leaven in His Church. The first type of leaven is sin. In the Corinthian Church, there was a guy sleeping with his father’s wife. The Church like most churches today was showing him “love” and a distorted grace.
Paul passionately said:
“And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 1 Corinthians 5:2-8
Finally, Paul tells the Church to remove the wicked person. Leaven must be removed because it gradually affects the entire Church.
The second type of leaven is hypocrisy or righteousness by good works. Paul got so mad about this in the Galatian Church that he wished that the person spreading this leaven would cut off their personal parts – “now that’s rough!” Someone came and began to teach the Galatians that they need to be circumcised to be saved and Paul became “boiling mad!”
“You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!” Galatians 5:7-12
Jesus also warned of the leaven of the Pharisees and called it hypocrisy. A little leaven leavens the whole lump! Now that is a statement!
As believers, we must not allow anyone to make light of sin in our lives or the Churches.
Additionally, we must never allow anyone to tell us that we need to add to the righteousness of Christ to be made right in God’s eyes. God wants us to keep ourselves in the love of God and be a pure lump before Him. Beloved, please watch out for false preachers that bring leaven into the Church.
We must stay on the straight and narrow path as believers. This path is God’s pure, undefiled love. We keep ourselves on this road through repentance and faith in the righteousness of Jesus Christ and the Gospel. If ever we see sin or self righteousness rising up in our lives, we must cut it off. Just like there are two types of leaven, there are two types of false preachers; those preachers who make light of sin and those who preach self righteousness. They will pay a great penalty if they do not repent.
Image Credit: shutterstock/Lasse Kristensen