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Jesus told his disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. Matthew 15 Jesus gives scathing remarks about the legalistic doctrines of men who were hypocrites adding their own laws and doctrines of men making them higher than Gods laws. They held themselves in high esteem because of their self righteousness. They went about establishing their own righteousness by keeping their own laws. Jesus said they were of their father the devil. They condemned others for the same things they were doing themselves. They had a log in their own eye but were quick to take the splinter out of their brothers eye. They used the law to condemn others as though they had no sin. Jesus told of the proud Pharisee who preyed with himself of how wonderful He was and was not like those sinners. But Jesus told of the tax collector who would not even look up but beat upon his chest saying God be merciful to me a sinner. Jesus said the tax collector went away justified and the Pharisee was condemned. We have two churches today. One are the liberal churches that say anything goes because we have grace and there is no law, and the others that go so far the other way that have no love for God or people by their legalistic doctrines of men. They strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. They judge by outward appearance instead of the heart. God is no respecter of persons. They make up their own doctrines of men, traditions of the church, and add them to Gods word as though they are commandments of God. They add their traditions, no tobacco, no dancing, no drinking, no TV, no movies, be in church every time the doors are open and tithe from all you have, and only listen to the music that is on our list, and only wear the kind of clothes we tell you. The doctrines of men will never replace the written word of God. But the strict legalists will always hold those that do not obey their traditions in contempt. It is going by the letter of the law rather than the spirit and actually kills the spirit of love for God and our neighbor. They love to put people on guilt trips to raise money, and in effect steal from widows and orphans. They take money from people so that they have none left to take care of the parents in old age. So beware of the leaven of the Pharisees that love to condemn others for what they do, but believe they have no sin. First John 1:8 needs to be preached more often. Then we have those that say my sin is not as bad as your sin. One of the things God hates the most is self righteousness and pride, as though we have no sin. And the book of Galatians gives us a look at how boasting in ourselves is sin towards God. In truth we have nothing to boast in but the cross. Humility seems to be a forgotten word among believers in some churches. It seems as though those in the in the legalists churches have gone so far from the liberal churches that they have fallen from grace all together. Have we lost our first love? What happened to the love of God that is supposed to rule in our hearts and show that love, grace, and mercy toward others that do not quite measure up to our legalistic doctrines of men. I know this is not going to go over very well but no one is preaching on it. I just do not believe in treating others like dirt because we are all weak in the flesh and there are none righteous, no not one. Jesus came to save sinners and we all are in that category. If it had not been for Him no one could be saved as we are all as an unclean thing in Gods eyes. Did Jesus die in vain? Are the self righteous going to heaven? Not according to Jesus who said all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Are we trusting in our own righteousness, or the righteousness of God that comes by faith alone. We have no righteousness in our selves and it can only come from God. As Paul said, I have no confidence in the flesh.
Leaven is always used for a type of sin everywhere else in scripture and I believe it is the same here. Examples are: Exodus 12:15 where the leaven is removed at Feast of Unleavened Bread and 1Corinthians 5:8. Leaven represents sin, perhaps because it corrupts by puffing up which may be a picture of pride, the first sin - Satan’s pride (Isa 14). Also, Jesus talks about leaven as sin in Matt 16:6 and Mark 8:15, and Paul says “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” in Galatians 5:9. The first mention of the three measures of meal or flour is in Genesis 18:1-7 where Jesus comes to Abraham with two angels, v.6 Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, and said, "Quickly, prepare three measures of fine flour or meal, knead it and make bread cakes." Since this time in the Jewish culture and with many Arabs too, the three measures of flour is a symbol of fellowship and hospitality. For a woman to add leaven to it would be unthinkable to the Jews Jesus was speaking with. "Three measures of meal," the meal offering, represents service and devotion to others, typified by what Christ did throughout His whole life and by offering Himself for our sin. If these parables are about the Church this could be a prophecy of sin and false doctrine entering the Church. It could be to warn us that the world and the devil will make a concerted and covert effort to corrupt the true church through false doctrine aimed at how we treat each other. The "three measures of meal" may represent that Jesus is "the Bread of life." The Church will not be perfect, it will be impure as leaven will be introduced and it will grow and contaminate it. Has it happened today where most local churches calling themselves Christians are like the church of Laodicea where Jesus is outside the church knocking to come in? Revelation 3:20 Consider this group of parables in light of the Jewish audience and the Church and you might decide too that the Pearl of Great Price is the Church that God purchased with the blood of His Son. Jesus does not fit as He cannot be purchased for any price. Salvation in Him is free. We need to get the sin out of our life and love God and each other and keep ourselves pure. Flee sin and embrace the Word and be an active part of your local church; one of those churches that keeps itself pure and preaches the Gospel clearly.
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