Matthew 13:33 “Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”
This is the parable of the leaven bread as told in accordance with a series of parables that Jesus gave describing the impacts and influences of the world (devil) on His Kingdom. What did Jesus mean by this parable? I’ve seen two schools of thought on this parable, one is the spread of the gospel throughout the world and the positive influence it has and the other is the evils of the world infiltrating the Church through false doctrines.
This parable was placed on my heart while researching current apostasy’s within the church, even though admittedly I was unaware of the implications of this passage. To me I feel led to read this passage as a warning on corruption. The “woman” in the passage hid leaven in three measures of meal. If this was a positive influence on the “meal”, why would she need to hide it?
If the meaning behind this parable were the spreading of the gospel, as some contend (including some pastors who I greatly respect), wouldn’t it be more open and visible than to be hidden in with the rest of the world? It seems easier to process by thinking that such a large quantity of meal (3 measures equals approximately 30 pounds of flour) has been infiltrated intentionally with a little leaven that attempts to ferment, or corrupt, the entire loaf of bread from the inside. With this context, it’s imperative that we as Christians take a step back and recognize the leaven, or corruption, that is taking place within the church.
The Bible requires us to have spiritual discernment. By discernment we mean, the ability to distinguish lies from the truth using the Bible as a measuring stick against which all things are tested. As we read in Philippians 1:9-10 NKJV, “I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.” The knowledge and discernment that Paul is speaking of is that we will have the ability to recognize those evils which oppose God’s will for our lives and His church. In I Corinthians 5:7-8 NKJV Paul uses the analogy of the leaven bread that we read about earlier, “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.”
In this passage, the Apostle is directly speaking to the church at Corinth warning them of the defilements that are taking place within the church. The corruption, defilements, and false doctrines that are hidden in the church today are no different than those from Paul’s day. The difference is that Paul called for the churches to wake up and recognize the apostasy’s that were taking place within the church. Today’s church body is not nearly as discerning.
These days the Evangelical community has allowed the Bible to become watered down and its truths diluted leaving the door open and unguarded for the wolves to come in. When we combine this weakened doctrine with relative, worldly, liberal viewpoints, we get in return an apostasy, “leaven” filled church.
My fear is that the lack of spiritual discernment within the church today is due primarily to the lack of the Holy Spirit, this can be due to a few key reasons of which the most obvious is the absence of true, repentant, faith relying, born again Christians. There seems to be an increasingly large number of those who think that because of “righteous” living, good works, or simply “believing in God” that they are saved.
Another reason for the lack of spiritual discernment surrounds those people who are truly saved but have yet to submit their lives to the will of God. Those folks may be more likely to rely on self than on the Holy Spirit and the discernment that develops through reading and studying the word of God, through praying daily, as well as developing strong relationships with Spiritually mature believers. The Holy Spirit provides the discernment we need to detect false doctrines that seek to infiltrate the church. I Corinthians 2:11-16 NKJV speaks precisely to this very point:
“For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ”
Over the next few posts, I want to begin to address these apostasy’s that are infiltrating the church. I want to clearly point out who they are, what to look for, and what ungodly doctrines they are teaching. I feel it’s extremely important to identify the falsehoods that are taking place in the church today. Just as we learn in Jude 3-4, “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I Thessalonians 5:21-22 “Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”
Ephesians 4:14-15 “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head-Christ-“