by Mike Ratliff
And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed. When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 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. (Matthew 16:1-12 ESV)
The Church in our time did not descend suddenly into the level of apostasy we see all around us now. No, it actually began many generations ago when Christian leaders who compromised God’s Truth were tolerated or not dealt with through Church discipline as instructed in God’s Word. With each compromise comes a bit more heart hardening and a dullness of Spirit in their churches so that eventually true Biblical discernment become rare. Those who have not compromised are the minority while those who are walking in spiritual darkness view them as divisive, self-righteous, and judgmental. Why? These with discernment stand firm and rebuke those who teach what is not Biblical as if it is the truth while teaching against Biblical truth as if it is false.
In our time, the visible Church has become nearly overrun with the compromise of becoming one with our culture. It is relativistic and pluralistic and, therefore, anti-Sola Scriptura. This must be so because the ones leading the charge into apostasy know very well that God’s Word does not teach what they hold to and, in fact, condemns it. In last night’s post, we looked at a compromise called transdispensationalism as taught by Pastor Tony Evans. This heresy says that people can be saved without knowing the name of Jesus. The criterion for salvation in this view is that all a person has to do to be saved is to seek God with a sincere heart.
I actually was saddened by this compromise because Tony Evans is a very dynamic, powerful preacher who does preach the gospel. I received one comment on that post that I did not approve because it is from a person who refuses to follow the rules for commenting on this blog. The comment was in the form of a question asking some of us if we believed Tony Evan’s error disqualified him from being part of the remnant. The person making the comment does not accept what we teach here about the growing apostasy and God sustaining His remnant that does not compromise. No, this person believes that Rob Bell, Tony Jones, Brian McLaren, et cetera are leading the way to a new reformation and that those who point out their unbiblical teachings are the ones who are in darkness. This concept can only be believed by those who reject Sola Scriptura because God’s Word does indeed prove that these men teach heresies and that they are leading their followers down a very dark path to destruction.
Tony Evan’s error is like a little leaven. He has not abandoned the gospel totally, but he is compromising. Paul warned both the Corinthian and Galatian churches against compromise like this.
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (1 Corinthians 5:1-7 ESV)
The boasting referred to by Paul is actually laid out very clearly in the first 4 chapters of 1 Corinthians. Many in that church were causing divisions in the local body by attacking the teaching of some teachers like Paul while elevating the teaching of others like Apollos. Some were refusing to submit to the Apostolic authority of Paul. Then in chapter 5 Paul reveals that their sin of boasting has blinded them to the egregious sin of sexual immorality being tolerated within their local body. Their boasting is the leaven, which has leavened the whole lump. Leaven in the Bible is not yeast, but a small lump of fermented dough. A small lump of it was added to unleavened dough. The fermented dough would leaven the whole lump or loaf. When used in an analogy like Paul’s here it is referring to the evil influence of sin in the body of Christ. It is a sin to do what they were doing because it is nothing but a work of the flesh and based in pride rather than in Christian humility. Their lack of repentance from this has leavened them. Their hearts have become hard and they are in spiritual darkness, therefore, they have no or little discernment. Paul commands them to cleanse out the old leaven, that is, repent. Those who do repent of this prove their authenticity. Those who do not or refuse to do so prove that they are not of the unleavened of Christ.
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. (Galatians 5:1-9 ESV)
The churches in the region of Galatia were under attack from judiazers. Some were compromising their faith by attempting to become justified by keeping the Mosaic Law even though they were primarily Gentiles. To do this is to not obey the truth. Paul tells them that God is the one who called them to freedom in Christ and He has not called them to submit again to a yoke of slavery. To believe and submit to this heresy is to become leavened with sin. A little sin here and a little compromise there seems to be nothing. Teaching that people can be saved without Jesus seems so harmless when one still preaches the Gospel, right? However, this little lump of leaven is placed in the lump of unleavened dough of God’s people. This little leaven will soon influence the whole lump and because of that spiritual blindness increases, hearts become hard and the next compromise is a lot easier for our enemy because discernment is non-existent.
The rampant apostasy of the visible Church in our time is the product of it becoming leavened by a continual attack of a little leaven here and little there resulting in compromises until it is as if no one has any discernment. God’s Word is preached and it is as Lot’s Sons-in-law who heard his entreats and warning to flee Sodom, but it seemed to them that he was jesting. Jeremiah preached the truth to King Jehoiakim through a scroll of judgment. When Jehudi read it to the Jehoiakim, the king cut off the parts already read with a knife and cast them into the fire (Jeremiah 36). This is what those who reject God’s Truth are actually doing. They will retort with human philosophy that that is only opinion. They reject the truth saying that it cannot be the truth because they do not believe it. What does this say? Doesn’t it say that they are the basis of truth in their own minds? They are spiritually blind and hard of heart. They see everything from the perspective of Man instead of from God’s perspective. They elevate Man in sovereignty over God. They have become completely leavened.
I pray that all reading this will prayerfully examine themselves. Ask God to seek out and expose the leaven within. Plead with God that He will grant repentance then turn and become cleansed from the leaven proving your authenticity and that you have been made unleavened through the blood of the Lamb.
Soli Deo Gloria!