My Bible reading this morning was Matthew 13. Today I share with you one of my studies from June of 2008. This is a more lengthy read, but please take the time and do so.
“Another parable spake He unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. Matthew 13:33 (KJB)
We come now to the matter of the “Leaven”. I see what others say when they see it as a symbol of good within the church, but it doesn’t fit with the rest of Scripture. Leaven, in every case in Scripture, Old and New Testaments, is seen as a symbol of evil. There is not one instance where it is seen as a symbol of a good growth of puffiness. In Exodus 12:15-19 the children of Israel in preparing to leave Egypt baked bread without leaven, they needed to be more concerned with the urgency of leaving rather than waiting on the dough to rise. Leaven puffs up. Some have taken Leviticus 23:17, and taught that this is a picture of the leaven being good. If we would understand the significance of this offering we would see this bread represents the one offering it, a redeemed individual, who being redeemed is still touched by sin and still dealing with sin, yet received by God. The leaven in verse 33 represents false doctrine.
Let’s back up for a moment and look at the beginning of this verse. Jesus is still dealing with the kingdom of heaven, and notice the “woman”. The woman represents false religion; she could even be represented by Jezebel who was the wife and queen of Ahab. A woman is seen as false religion in the Revelation, as the woman riding the beast (Revelation 17:3-6). The doctrine and teaching of Jezebel is seen in Jesus’s letter to the church of Thyatira (Revelation 2:20-23). I do not know the specific reason a woman is used to represent false doctrine, and deception. It just seems to go back to Jezebel who was a very wicked, godless, self-aggrandizing woman. The woman in this parable is guilty of secretly placing leaven in “three measures of meal”, and leaven once it gets into bread dough it permeates the whole batch of dough.
Jesus told His disciples, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” Jesus was referring to their legalism and false doctrine that had bound them in their sins and iniquities. Paul the apostle warns of the dangers of letting iniquity/sin stay and permeate a congregation in 1 Corinthians 5:6-7 “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us”. Since Paul says “Ye are unleavened”, then it must be that the “New lump” he is referring to is a lump of bread dough without leaven.
The modern day religion called Christianity is overwhelmed with a numerical growth. This growth is often done by entertainment, showmanship, salesmanship, and a “fire under the altar” (Read 1 Kings 18). False doctrine is often associated with much of the aforementioned. I know that there will be some who read this or hear this that are going to think or say, “Tim doesn’t believe in growing a church.” That is not what I am saying. I want to let God build His Church. Let us who are His children, the children of His kingdom planted in this world, proclaim the gospel as we have been commissioned, as we have been called, but let’s leave the saving to His hands, and the power of His spirit.
Christianity is also getting deeper and deeper into heretical teachings. When we have a document signed by good and godly men calling for the gathering of Evangelicals and Catholics for unity, and the Catholic church has announced anathema upon the gospel of Jesus Christ – saved by grace alone, through faith alone – then how could we ever join hands with someone who hates the pure gospel of Christ? There are those in Evangelical circles, also, who teach a wimpy Jesus dying on the cross, defeated by the devil on the cross, and that is not belief in the cross of Jesus; when the truth of the matter is that Jesus won the battle for sin, death, and hell, and put the devil in his place by His death on the cross. The devil never touched Jesus in His death. He was smitten by God, His own Father (Isaiah 53:4). He paid the sin debt which was owed to His Father by you and me.
It is leaven that puffs up. Read 1 Corinthians 4:18-19; 5:2, 6-8; 8:1. Puffing up is usually evidence of pride. There can be no pride in the true Church of our God. We humbly bow before Him in worship. We have nothing to boast of except that our salvation is the work of God. We boast of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Satan, hates the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, and fears her when she is on her knees, in humility before her Lord. He is, however, still at work sending in the tares amongst the wheat, planted in this world, trying to gain a foothold, and strangle the witness, testimony, and power of the Christian. Sure there is growth in many churches across our land, ie., the USA; but do we care so much about numbers in our churches that we would forsake the truth, holy living, and our fellowship with the Lord Himself, just to receive recognition from others? Are we willing to forsake the essential doctrines of the faith to draw a crowd? We better deal with those who are teaching wrong, and deal with them quickly. If we don’t we lead ourselves to destruction.
Jesus desires that all the lost be saved, and His Church to grow, but only as it rest in Him. She [the Church] cannot have genuine, solid spiritual growth except through the Lord Jesus. Satan is at work to infiltrate, ensnare, and bring the works of Christ to nothing.
The kingdom of heaven grows in every individual who knows, who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Yet, numerically, it can grow in pretense and hypocrisy. False growth is hypocritical and deceiving – to self, and others. It may have the appearance of God’s blessing, but actually be far from God’s blessing, causing the lost, condemned world to have no recourse from hell.
False doctrine destroys unity, while those who teach false doctrine talk of uniformity – you give up the truth and we will have unity – and accuse those who stand for truth as the ones who cause disunity. There can be no unity, except it be by the Biblical doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the doctrines of Christ Himself. False doctrine “puffs up”. It gives the appearance of something which is not there. It is deceptive and always detracts from Jesus and the truth.