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Institute in Basic Life Principles

Command 27 : Beware of Leaven | Day 184

Learn the Lesson of Leaven!

In 1636, John Harvard founded a school for the purpose of educating the youths of the early colonies, especially the native American Indians. His main objective was to train them to become literate, skilled preachers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

More than six decades later, a group of ministers were alarmed by the growing "liberalism" of Harvard and started their own school, which became Yale University. Initially, students were required to live according to God's Word, but eventually these ideals were abandoned. What caused these Godly institutions to lose sight of their original goals? They failed to avoid the danger of "a little leaven."

Satan's method is to infiltrate a Godly group and corrupt it. God's method is to separate His own from evil and purify them.

There is a good reason why Jesus tells us to "beware" of the leaven of hypocrisy. If we allow people who are in deliberate sin to become or remain part of a group that is set apart for God, or if we adopt policies that promote a message other than that of Christ, those within the group will become complacent toward sin and eventually will grow to accept it in their lives. God instituted church discipline to deal with members who willfully allowed sin to reign in their lives. (See I Corinthians 5:2-13.)

Christ's command to beware of leaven has its Old Testament foundation in the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was a part of the Passover: “Purge 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: therefore 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” (I Corinthians 5:7-8).

Just as God desired Israel to be a model to all other nations, He also desires His Church to be an example to the world.

God instructed the nation of Israel to cut off any man who ate leavened bread during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. (See Exodus 12:15.) Excommunication seems like a harsh consequence for simply eating a little leaven; however, God wanted His people to learn the seriousness of allowing a little sin in their midst.

We have been given the same instruction: “Mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18).

We must be alert to the great danger of those who profess Christ with their mouths but with their actions reveal that they are interested only in serving themselves. If we fellowship with those who are committed to sinful practices, the leaven of their hypocrisy will permeate our lives. Are we removing all leaven from our lives and guarding against hypocrisy?

“Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6).

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Contributing writer: Bill Gothard