Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?

by Mike Ratliff

1 The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 But He replied to them, “ When it is evening, you say, ‘ It will be fair weather, for the sky is red. ’ 3 And in the morning, ‘ There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening. ’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times? 4 An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” And He left them and went away. 5 And the disciples came to the other side of the sea, but they had forgotten to bring any bread. 6 And Jesus said to them, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 7 They began to discuss this among themselves, saying, “ He said that because we did not bring any bread.” 8 But Jesus, aware of this, said, “ You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread? 9 Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets full you picked up? 10 Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many large baskets full you picked up? 11 How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:1-12 NASB)

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 becomes 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. I grew up as a Southern Baptist and it breaks my heart to witness now as many SBC leaders do all they can to deny that Baptists have any roots in the Protestant Reformation and at the same time, work behind the scenes to normalize relations between the SBC and the Roman Catholic Church. Rick Warren, a SBC pastor, has been making statements recently that the Pope is “the Pope” of all Christians. My Grandfather Ratliff was a Southern Baptist Pastor and I assure you that he would not have put up with any of this. He ministered with no fear of men and if this sort of stuff was going on in his time, there would have been fire and brimstone coming those leader’s way from his pulpit. He would have organized like minded pastors in the Convention and those “leaders” doing this would no longer have those positions.

I was involved in an internet discussion today about what is going on and was shocked at how so many Christians see our bringing these things to light as “wrong” and “mean-spirited.” They read what the compromisers say and ask what the problem is. We are then forced to waste valuable time going point-by-point what each of these men have been saying and doing then put it all in context so they will see what we are talking about. Then we are accused of not giving enough information at the beginning, et cetera. My brethren, are you people really so helpless that you must be spoon-fed everything? Aren’t you capable of doing your own research? Have you even tried?

Those SBC leaders are like a little leaven. They have not abandoned the gospel totally, but they are compromising. Paul warned both the Corinthian and Galatian churches against compromise like this.

1 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. 2 You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. 3 For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? 7 Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. (1 Corinthians 5:1-7 NASB)

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.

1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. 4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. 7 You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. (Galatians 5:1-9 NASB)

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!

9 thoughts on “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?

  1. Amen!

    This is what the faithful remnant is experiencing all over the landscape. Essentially it goes like this. If you…

    1. claim that the bible is the word of God
    2. hold to the truth of what the bible says
    3. judge all things by holding them up against the bible
    4. scrutinize and evaluate ‘bible teachers and leaders’ according to God’s word
    5 hold all things up to the biblical test be it action or word
    6. use discernment
    7. reprove and rebuke heresy according to God’s word
    8. warn about false teachings and false teachers as God’s word tells us to do
    9. anything else we are called to do by God’s word

    then we are labeled as: mean, judgemental, divisive, unloving, intolerant, pharisitical, proud, harsh, and so on

    While the fact is that we are being obedient to the decrees of God in the truth of His holy Word, so it is THEY who fit the description of everything on that list they accuse us of being. But of course they don’t see that because they are: blind, deceived, under strong delusion, in apostasy, following after false teachers who tickle their ears, refusing sound doctrine, trusting in man, esteeming man above God, arrogant, egocentric, compromising with sin, the world, heresy, and the devil, embracing false teachings gladly, lacking proper judgment and discernment, and infecting the rest of the visible church with heresy and division from the truth of the bible.

    But if you are okay with:

    anything goes type of teaching, tossing God’s word over your shoulder, following after your own lusts, doing what you think is right ‘in your own eyes’ regardless biblical teachings, uniting with anyone for the sake of unity itself, welcoming the ways of the world into the church, tolerating and embracing sin, unbiblical teachings, and other religions and so forth…

    then according to them you are:

    loving, accepting, affirming, tolerant, peaceful, promoting a spirit of ‘unity,’ and so forth.

    The next step is to embrace the antichrist’s one world religious unity bandwagon, get in line for his mark of the beast, and jump on board with their ‘common ground’ of religions while avoiding ‘radical extremists’ like us who hold to God’s word loyally and without compromise.
    That is the next stage. The sheep and goats are already being separated as we contend.



  2. Since that was a long comment I wanted to share this experience separately below. This is a true event as one example that shows how shocking this all is to witness.

    I have been all over the landscape but had not run into any ‘discernment savvy’ believers other than online. Well, I finally did run into a group at a local spot that is invovled in evangelism. I got involved to assist with that goal. To my joy, some of the believers there were aware of the current state of apostasy in the church and we agreed on mostly everything about this and seemed to be on the same page. Others who assist there were not on the same page but I had been bringing it to their attention. There was one person however, who appeared to be ‘in the know’ with what is going on in the churches and the whole apostasy and antichrist prepping activities, etc. We exchanged emails and began corresponding. She had even told me why she left one church and it was a typical tale of apostasy. A short time later she sent me a video sermon from a pastor at one of the mainline apostate churches in the area. At first I was shocked, thinking ‘how could she not know about that place?’ I asked her if she was aware that a very good discernment ministry had put out warnings about that pastor, along with many others. She meekly replied that she ‘was aware they had posted an article about him a few years ago.’ So my next thought was ‘she knows, and she is still promoting them and probably even going there?!’ I sent her an article about him from my resources. I was very sweet about it all too. Well, I was shocked when I got this biting reply from her, of all people, that among other things stated that…
    ‘if we touch “the Lord’s anointed” then we will not be ‘honored’ by God, but that those of us who ‘stood by them,’ even though they had ‘slipped’ and perhaps would ‘return’, that those would be the ones that would be ‘honored by God’ ‘ and similar things along those lines, and misquoting scriptures.
    My reply was that…
    “No, the ones who expose and warn about the wolves are the ones who will be honored by God, and the ones who defend them will not be honored by God.” Also I mentioned that they are not the Lord’s anointed, we are called to rebuke and refute and reprove, etc. and WE are the Lord’s anointed according to scripture, not to mention that she is making a false claim about who God will honor and speaking for God with no basis to support it. A lot of this ‘anointing’ and ‘touch not the Lord’s anointed’ stuff refers to King Saul. Well, to make matters even more interesting, in bible typology King David is a type of Christ and Saul of satan. Satan was also ‘anointed,’ lest we forget…

    “You were the anointed cherub who covers;
    I established you;
    You were on the holy mountain of God;
    You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.
    You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created,
    Till iniquity was found in you.” Ezekiel 28; 14-15

    Iniquity? What iniquity?

    “How you are fallen from heaven,
    O Lucifer, son of the morning!
    How you are cut down to the ground,
    You who weakened the nations!
    For you have said in your heart:
    ‘I will ascend into heaven,
    I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
    I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
    On the farthest sides of the north;
    I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
    I will be like the Most High.’
    Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
    To the lowest depths of the Pit.” Isaiah 14; 12-15

    It all mirrors how there is an expiration date on the devil’s dominion on earth and when Jesus returns He reigns and brings in His kingdom in His timing. It’s all under God’s sovereignity in His timing and purposes. There is a gap between when David and Jesus were anointed and when they actually take over the throne to reign over the kingdom. David was persecuted and in hiding inbetween, just as the true body of Christ is today in most of the world. There are so many riches in the word of God! Anyway, this was all to make the point that even through someone thinks they ‘have an anointing’, let them not think they are above scrutiny by the Word, for even the devil was an ‘anointed angel,’ and look at his destination. Pride goes before a fall, let them remember that lest they make the same mistake and let some supposed ‘anointing’ get to their heads.

    Anyway I made all the points biblically and of course never heard from her again. I just found it interesting that people in the discernment camp are still defending wolves and twisting scriptures to do it. It is interesting to see what verses they use and how they abuse them and who is doing it. All I can say is that your master is the one who you are defending, just like an army. I know this is long, it is a real personal account, I just wanted to share some of the realities of what goes on along with some biblical insight, post it at your discretion.
    ( :
    Keep fighting the good fight and don’t let them discourage you!


  3. You said, “My brethren, are you people really so helpless that you must be spoon-fed everything? Aren’t you capable of doing your own research? Have you even tried?” Oh my, you took the words right out of my mouth. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have been through this with fellow “professing” Christians when I warn them of false teaching/teacher. After I have gone through point by point my concerns, they then ask, “who wrote that?” “who said that?” Because instead of doing their own homework, they now resort to shooting the messenger. I now no longer give the name of my source or reference because I know their ploy. I just tell them, you go do your own homework and prove me wrong. I would love to be proven wrong. They never do. It’s simply called laziness!


  4. Exactly Nancy and Mike!

    They act so helpless. You have to spoon feed them the bible because they don’t know it, but it’s their job. You have to spoon feed them what the false teachings are, because they won’t decipher the real from the counterfeit. You have to point out all the false teachers because they won’t recognize the wolves in disguise. They are responsible to read the bible, and do some research on these wolves and what they said. You have to point out every reference to them of who said what and when, with a full bibliography, when it’s practically common knowledge. Even when you do all of this, it is like their ears grow dull and their senses grow dim and they become blind, deaf, and numb of mind. All reasoning is drained out of them and all they can do is deny, argue, and make their own unfounded claims without proof or reasoning. I’ve seen this, it’s like a spiritual condition more than a physical or mental one. They are lazy and have grown comfortable. The wolves are tickling their ears and petting the fur of the sheep and they have fallen asleep. When you try to wake them up and warn them of danger; ‘the wolf is going to have you for dinner!’ they only wake up long enough to bite your hand and then go back to sleep.


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