October 22

The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened. Matthew 13:33

Of all the attacks on the Church, those that come from the inside are the most troubling, and of all such attacks, ‘leaven’ is the worst. The reason is that leaven is not easily distinguishable from the body of the loaf! Leaven gets into the very substance of everything. Paul identifies ‘leaven’ as legalism in Galatians 5:9, and as immoral behaviour in 1 Corinthians 5:6. Jesus also identifies leaven as hypocrisy – Luke 12:1 – and wrong doctrine – Matthew 16:12. It is easy to identify these things in others but not so easy in ourselves. The answer is to submit ourselves to the scrutiny of God’s love and to the purging power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has no leaven; He is a burning fire that continually purges out insincerity and doctrine that moves away from the spiritual centre of things. When we allow ‘leaven’ in, our lives become heavy and cease to receive the refreshing of the Holy Spirit. This is why repentance is a constant ministry of Christ to His Churches. The Holy Spirit is always urging inner separation from sin in all its forms, so that we may have a clear, untroubled relationship with Christ. The Holy Spirit is relentless in His determination to keep us free from sin and self, and He touches our hearts continually with a fire that makes us aware how foolishly we are behaving when we look away from Jesus Christ. Wrong doctrine will always err from the centre of things – it may tell us, for instance, that we need never be ill if we have enough faith, or that the age of miracles is past. If only we could smile at ourselves and drop our rigid attitudes, and believe in Him. He makes us sane and holy.