We’ve seen that the communication of God’s love was heavily challenged. Proof of this is lies in the difficulty of Israel or Jesus’ followers to understand Him, His message or His purpose. His parables often went misunderstood and His teachings misinterpreted, but Jesus continued, through the visible demonstration of miracles, to illustrate His task of restoring communion. In many places, the cause of failed communication was brought into view.
“5 And when his disciples were come to the other4 side, they had forgotten to take bread. 6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. 7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. 8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? 9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?”
In this passage the disciples realized that they had forgotten to take bread, and they began to doubt themselves for it. Then, when Jesus spoke about the “leaven of the Pharisees”, the disciples totally misunderstood the purpose of the statement. They immediately suspected that they’d done something wrong by forgetting to bring bread, but Jesus perceived this and reminded them that He previously fed crowds of thousands with only a few loaves of bread, twice. He was, indeed, reemphasizing that all resource is always provided by God, not man. This is an encouragement to us as believers. When we look at our own limited resources, we often doubt our ability to carry out the work of the Lord. We must remember that through communion, we are not working by our power alone, but by the Spirit of God in us.
Upon closer look, we can see that there was an—and still is— an active cause for misunderstanding God’s provision. Opposite Christ’s work to communicate His love exists the spirit of anti-Christ who seeks to confuse His communication. Satan has been working since creation to destroy God’s attempts to convey His love. Notice what the serpent did in the garden; he perverted the words, works and intention of God into something that they simply weren’t.
Genesis 3:1-4 AMPC
“Now the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And he [Satan] said to the woman, Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat the fruit from the trees of the garden, 3 Except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden. God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. 4 But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die,”
Since that time, such deception has not changed with Satan or anyone working within his kingdom of darkness. The aim has always been to craftily warp God’s word so that it is misinterpreted and ultimately disobeyed. By adding something that isn’t there or removing something that is, a small deviation is introduced to sabotage perfect communion. This is what he did in the garden, and this is what he continued to do in the days of Jesus’ ministry. Thankfully, this was no surprise to Jesus. A deeper look at Matthew 16 reveals how this same type of deception was the cause of the disciples’ confusion. In the verses before the disciples failed to understand Jesus, notice the events that had taken place.
“The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. 3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? 4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.”
Now, it is unclear whether the disciples were accompanying Jesus when He encountered this temptation from the Pharisees, although they most likely were. Nevertheless, they had undoubtedly fallen prey to attacks similar to this at the hands of these religious leaders. In these self-righteous tests of approval, the Pharisees attempted to force others to play by their rules and meet their standards. Now they were trying this tactic with Jesus.
Somewhere in their own prideful assumptions, they believed that they possessed the physical evidence of spiritual superiority and approval, and now they were vain enough to challenge Jesus. They were trying to make Jesus prove that He operated under His claimed authority of God through some impressive physical sign. This is exactly the type of temptation that they had been forcing others to participate in, and the disciples were certainly familiar with these religious challenges. Whether it was their access to the temple, their memorization of the law, the impressiveness of their religious garments or their tribal ancestry, the Pharisees constantly held these things over the heads of others as supposed signs of spiritual supremacy. As a result of these superficial standards of righteousness, the people were oppressed into the false perception that they couldn’t please God.
Ultimately, Matthew 16:1-11 shows that an inability to understand the Word of God is often not without cause. Just as Satan evoked a misinterpretation of God’s word in the Garden, the Pharisees and their craftily added requirements were most assuredly the cause for the disciples’ doubt and inability to understand Jesus teachings. These deceptive additions were precisely the leaven that Jesus warned His followers about. Luke 12 is more direct in its definition of leaven.
“In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”
Here, Jesus is more specific in His explanation of leaven. He declares that leaven is hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is defined as “playacting, stage-playing” and “living a lie.” It means, “presenting something as if it has more substance than it actually does.” Furthermore, hypocrisy is leaven, otherwise known as ferment; ferment is “a state of confusion or excitement, especially because of suddenly changing conditions.”
When we put these meanings together, we can form the revelatory meaning of leaven as it is used by Jesus. Leaven is the inclusion of false, carnal works, the emphasis of physical accomplishment, or the requirement of ungodly laws which cause anxiety and/or bring confusion to something originally at peace. Leaven is the enemy of communion and everything that represents it.
The work of Christ is the true visualization and communication of God’s love, making the spirit of anti-Christ a deceptive visualization and lying communication. The true Gospel is accomplished through true doctrine and supporting deeds. The false Gospel message is asserted through false doctrines and empty deeds.
There are false preachers who are perpetrators, presenting righteousness to the world in the form of their own selfish lusts. They suggest that God’s approved or “anointed” are marked by wealth, talent, physical accomplishment, social status, theological intellect and worldly connections, among other things. In so doing, they attempt to force their followers to judge themselves by these additional, false standards. Meanwhile, these false preachers, themselves, do none of the things that actually matter. This is hypocrisy; this is leaven. It “excites (causes anxiety)” and “confuses” the peace that communion brings!
This is why the disciples doubted amongst themselves when they forgot to bring bread. This is why they misunderstood what Jesus was saying. This is why they felt inadequate, even in the presence of the Creator of the all things. In spite of the miracles they had seen, they still supposed that their insufficiencies were the reason for Christ’s disapproval. Their unbelief was a induced by the Pharisees’ hypocritical indoctrination. It is this same thing that often causes us to doubt or consider that we are unable to commune with Christ. Religious leaders present themselves and all of their carnal assets as the measuring stick of God’s righteousness. When those they are supposed to lead see that they don’t measure up, they suppose that they aren’t able to have a relationship with God and His grace, and they are prevented from the benefits of the real kingdom. This is precisely what angered Jesus.
Matthew 23:1-7; 13-14; 23-24 KJV
“Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 2 Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: 3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. 4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, 6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. 13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. 14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. 23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.”
Things are no different, now, than they were in the garden than they were in Jesus day. Every attempt, by the Lord, to establish communion and its provision is met with the obstacle of communication, made worse by the opponents of Jesus – anti-Christs! It is impossible to understand what is expected of us if we continue to pay attention to expectations of the world and deceitful leaders. This is why the Pharisees wanted to continue in the law, and it is why the multitude of “ologies” and “isms” (divisive and religious creations of men) exist today! It is dangerous, and Jesus has instructed us to “beware” of it. We shouldn’t obey it or participate in it. Let’s take a look at other scriptures that warn us of leaven.
“1Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 2Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. 5For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. 7Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? 8This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. 9A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”**
This passage illustrates that only a small amount of leaven is problematic. Small deviations and additions to God’s instructions cause our flesh to become overactive and our understanding to be confused. If leaven is allowed to reside in the minds of individuals or in the body of Christ, it reaches dangerous and intoxicating levels. It starts subtly, and people think they are pleasing God, but they end up making complete and utter fools of themselves, believing that God still approves of their foolish behavior. This is evidenced by 1 Corinthians 5.
1 Corinthians 5:1-8
“1It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 2And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:8Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
For the Corinthians, the leaven had gotten so bad that people considered it honorable for a man to take his father’s wife. This is sadly reminiscent of the state of affairs in many church organizations today. Again, it starts as a small doubt and grows into a corrupt system of false righteousness directly from the kingdom of darkness! This is why God desires for His children to come out from the world. The value system that it portrays is not to be mixed with that of Christ’s kingdom.
1 John 2:15-17
15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
Colossians 2:8-10 KJV
“8Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:”
When you continue to pay attention to the world and/or deceitful leaders, you become hypnotized and indoctrinated by them. The false church is under a demonic form of hypnosis. Pagan and humanistic philosophies have run roughshod through religion and the church; what began out at a subtle inability to discern the specifics of scripture has become a hypocritical representation of all things Holy. The Zeitgeist (the spirit of the currentage) has always influenced the truth of the Gospel away from its original form.
The lies of Satan, the leaven of the Pharisees and the hypocrisy of false religion’s leaders are all one and the same – the spirit of anti-christ. Several scriptures support that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump”, highlighting the truth that a subtle perversion of God’s initial, communicated intentions can quickly turn simple error into sinful foolishness masquerading as righteousness. The word of God is our foundation, and Jesus is our example. If we don’t stay familiar with it and close to Him, we make ourselves more susceptible to the indoctrination of deceit, perpetrated through the world and hypocritical religious elites. Communion, reinstated through Christ, is all we need to accomplish the work of the Lord. If/when we feel inadequate, we must ask ourselves what has caused it. It may be that we’ve have looked too long on the apparent physical successes of the world or popular religious leaders. Any additional requirements or standards made to God’s word is leaven, whether preached or perpetrated, and we must beware. If it is allowed to stay, the righteousness, joy and peace of the true Kingdom and Holy spirit will turn into confusion and anxiety— it will turn into fermentation.
“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”