The disciples of Jesus had just witnessed the supernatural on two separate occasions among a multitude of 5000 and 4000 men, not counting women and children. Jesus healed the sick, diseased and injured and then multiplied the fishes and loaves which feed both groups with abundant leftovers. He and His disciples departed from the multitudes but then encountered a group of Pharisees who were seeking a sign to be showed to them. Jesus refused knowing that signs and wonders would not convince them that He was the Son Of God. Matthew 16:5-7 and Mark 8:14-17 reveals two important things.
First the disciples were concerned about their lack of bread to eat even though they just witnessed the Father's will to heal and provide. Next Jesus uncovers an issue that had gripped the disciples and prevented them from seeing and understanding spiritual things. It had stifled their faith resulting in a hardened heart. Jesus warns them to beware of the leaven (teachings) of the Pharisees, Sadducees and Herod. He was telling them that the teaching of the Pharisees, Sadducees and Herod had influenced them and that their poisonous doctrine had blinded them and prevented them from understanding the supernatural because it neutralizes faith and causes hard hearts. So what are the three leavens that had blinded the disciples eyes and minds, neutralized their faith and cause a harden heart?
Luke 12:1 reveals the leaven of the Pharisees, it is hypocrisy which is transliterated from the Greek to mean play-acting. Today it is called “LEGALISM”…Having strict rules that breeds dead works, behavior modification and performance. Legalism says, “If I can do enough good things, give enough money, pray, praise, study avoid sin God will bless me". It breeds perfectionism which leads to the a sense that we will never please God. Legalism focuses on us, rather than on Christ and His completed work at Calvary.
ACTS 23:8 reveals the leaven of the Sadducees. This is the leaven of unbelief. Today it is called theological liberalism. Theological liberalism rejects the supernatural and looks for alternative explanations for the supernatural found in Scripture or when it is encountered in the church today. They basically go through the motions of ceremonial religion as if that was all Christianity consists of. The problem is unbelief. The effects of this poisonous unbelieving leaven is, unbelief prevent believers from being free and receiving all that Christ has done for them.
Matthew 10:1-14 is a good example of the leaven of Herod. The leaven of Herod is using worldly practices to accomplish goals, better known as pragmatism, the means is justified by the end. For Herod, pragmatism meant that he was willing to do anything and justify anything in order to accomplish his goals. Worldly practices in the church today use whatever means to accomplish our goals not Gods plans or put another way, to get things the way we want them to be. Worldly practices encourage dishonesty, deception and or manipulation to get the required results. These methods express unbelief that the Father will do what actually is needed. There are many man made, man inspired programs in the church today that use worldly practices to entice people to visit a church as well as to keep people in the church.
Unfortunately many believers today have fallen prey to these poisonous doctrines that have been promoted in the church for centuries. Believers must seek Gods help in removing any and every one of these leavens from their lives and allow faith to arise and believe that God can and is willing to take care of all spiritual, physical, financial and material needs. The day of unwavering faith in Christ is upon us and the church must respond if we are going to stand in this evil day. Remember, "A little leaven, leavens the whole lump".