A little yeast

Published by Jason Shiels on

1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” Galatians 5:1, 7-9

What might be the yeast in our lives or context?

In this first Century AD church context of Galatia, in modern Turkey, the apostle Paul was acting quickly and decisively to defend the purity of gospel witness and teaching from the insidious creep of legalism, which in effect, was undermining the gospel’s effect upon these people,

Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Galatians 5:2

I wonder whether any readers can identify with this in our own lives? How have we allowed some teaching, perhaps a podcast series, or something somewhat skew from an influential person or even just a trend in society’s thinking or our own frustrations, to infiltrate our lives like “a little yeast” or leaven. Yeast causes bread to expand and rise, and causes fermentation in the wine making process.

What’s the point?

The point is that God warned his followers to watch out for the subtle but all pervasive influence of teaching that takes His people away from the core essentials of the faith. Ultimately, away from Him and His teaching. Even a ‘little yeast’ can have a massively distorting effect on the ‘batch of dough’ (our lives, a church community, society etc). Core essentials, as I understand it, are Biblical teaching that is non-negotiable and that we have no right to alter or dismiss (Rev 22:18-19). It is God’s truth and ultimate reality (logos) not ours. Things like: God being three persons but one God (Trinity), the deity of Jesus Christ and his substitutionary gospel act and atonement, the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, marriage being between a man and a woman, genders as being male and female only, the Kingdom of God (on earth as it is in heaven), believers as image-bearers or disciples of Christ as part of God’s mission, the local visible church’s importance, sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper (while this is an essential we might regard the mode of baptism for example more as a secondary matter, yet not unimportant), the authority of Scripture and the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus and the consummation of the ages.

‘Be careful’ – are we?

Jesus warned people to beware the ‘yeast’ of the religious rulers,

“‘Be careful‘ Jesus said to them. ‘Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Matthew 16:6

Here are a few points to bear in mind in this conversation, relevant to ourselves,

  • We too have a spiritual context all of our own. As such we need to discern what the leaven is in our context
  • We need to be aware of a very common tendency – over-correction. The tendency to pendulum swing from bad teaching and practise into ‘over-correction’ is very common.
  • The yeast in our culture is found in the spirit of the age that runs counter to everything that God is and that He wills. It is ultimately ‘anti-Christ’.
  • Significantly in our day there is a big move to undermine the authority of Scripture for our lives. There is a need, like never before, for seasoned teachers and preachers of the Word in our churches who know how to ‘rightly divide’ the word of the Lord. This makes all the difference!
  • Deception and twisting Scripture towards an agenda is demonic strategy. Think of what Jesus had to fend off in the wilderness during His temptation by Satan. The Word is known and used by demons (James 2:19). Remember we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against dark powers and agendas.
  • We are called to walk by the Spirit and not ‘in the flesh’ (Galatians 5). Our ‘flesh’ wants what it craves and there is a struggle for supremacy in our lives between living by the Spirit and the flesh. This is a battle we need to win, often, with God’s help.

Last words for now….

What seed or yeast is being sown or mixed into our lives at this time? Do we discern it? Are we able to test and approve God’s good, pleasing and perfect will? (Romans 12:2) We need to!

Yeast is small but powerful in its effect. Take captive every thought raised against the knowledge and will of God. You may not have signed up for it, but my friend, you are at war.

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