Can’t Hide Behind a Religious Mask
12 1-3 By this time the crowd, unwieldy and stepping on each other’s toes, numbered into the thousands. But Jesus’ primary concern was his disciples. He said to them, “Watch yourselves carefully so you don’t get contaminated with Pharisee yeast, Pharisee phoniness. You can’t keep your true self hidden forever; before long you’ll be exposed. You can’t hide behind a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask will slip and your true face will be known. You can’t whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public; the day’s coming when those whispers will be repeated all over town.
4-5 “I’m speaking to you as dear friends. Don’t be bluffed into silence or insincerity by the threats of religious bullies. True, they can kill you, but then what can they do? There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.
6-7 “What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.
Sourdough bread became popular during the California Gold rush of the mid-1800s. In the 1890s, it was a favorite during the great Gold Rush in Alaska. Prospectors would carry with them a small portion of sourdough mix that contained a natural yeast. It could then be used as a starter to make more of their favorite sourdough bread.
In the Bible, though, yeast or leaven can have a negative connotation. For example, In the New Testament “leaven” is often referred to as a corrupting influence, which is hypocrisy”. May I expose myself to a living church tonight and not get devoured? I am not altogether holy nor am I without sin, are you? We need to cultivate a culture within our churches that allow for unsaved or sinners to be completely free to expose their struggles. Transparency equals liberty in Christ. Hypocrites put on a show of righteousness while hiding sinful thoughts and behavior. Christ warned His disciples and us that secret sins will someday be exposed to full disclosure. He said, “There is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known” (v.2).
Be cause of this, we are to reverentially fear God, to ask for His grace to forsake any sin, and to grow as authentic believers. Yeast may be a blessing in the bakery, but it can also remind us to guard against the permeating influence of sin in our hearts. The holiness of God demands a heart that’s within, Yet grace unites with holiness to purge the heart from sin.
THE Jewish or Pharisaic party violently opposed the Gospel from without. Wherever the Apostles went, the Jews who believed not, being moved with envy, stirred up the people against them. They could not endure to hear of the salvation of the Gentiles by Grace through faith! It grated on their ears, for they thought that this doctrine was contrary to the Law of Moses in which they boasted.
They were children of the bondwoman under the old Covenant of Works and they could not endure that the children of the promise should come to the inheritance. They struggled and rebelled against the Gospel of salvation by Grace, for it went against their natural pride and their national exclusiveness.
Yes, and even when any of them, as blessed be the Grace of God was the case, became converted, the old man was still within them and the spirit of bondage was still apt to assert itself. Those who had been of the sect of the Pharisees brought a good share of Pharisaic tendencies with them into the Church—and these were dangerous to the young kingdom of Christ. I scarcely know whether legal principles were not able to do more mischief inside the Church by perverting pure doctrine than they could do outside the Church by exciting persecution.
One can hardly imagine how the Gospel could have escaped being overlaid and smothered by Judaism, like a baby by
its mother, had it not been for the preserving Grace of God and the indwelling Spirit within the Church of God. You
know, Brothers and Sisters, how we mourn, today, that certain who claim to be Christians are laboring most zealously
to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear. They invent pompous
ceremonies, observe days and months and are bound by rubrics and regulations—all of which are an idle and needless
servitude to outward forms.
Certain others would bind us with creeds and ordinances not plainly taught in the Word of God, nor agreeable thereto—of which Peter and John knew nothing whatever—having no force but that which comes of human authority.
The old Pharisaic spirit is a great forger of bonds and builder of prisons! It would subject us to ordinances of, “Touch not, taste not, handle not,” and fetter us with rules of many sorts—for it cannot understand the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. It teaches this and it teaches that, whereof the Apostles would have said, “We gave no such commandment.”
We must contend against this spirit as much now as ever! We must refuse to be entangled, again, with the yoke of
bondage. Christ is all! We are complete in Him and we will not permit a single letter to be added to His perfect Law of
Liberty. Peter, at the great Jerusalem council was enabled, through his experience to answer those who said that unless a
man was circumcised he could not be saved. Depend upon it, Brothers and Sisters, there is nothing like practical work for
Christ to teach us Christ’s Truth!
For the most part, the heretics of the present day are a clique of literary men, adept at the pen, but quite unable to speak. It may be that their failure in this direction sours them and sets them upon opposing the Gospel ministry. At any
rate, they are a set of theorizers who know nothing of practical service for the Lord! And so they make up all manner of nonsense according to their own fancies.
They sit in their studies and do nothing—and then criticize those who are doing hard service and are successful in it. They are so busy with nibbling their quills and polishing their periods that they care nothing about saving souls! And they are so intent upon making discoveries which shall manifest their own gigantic
intellects that they cannot soil their hands with practical work among the poor and ignorant.
Having nothing upon their hearts, their whole nature runs to their head and the head being unbalanced by a busy
heart takes to spinning cobweb theories and novelties of heresy. Fiercely liberal, the spirit which they manifest against
the orthodox is grandly bigoted—in this they are earnest—but in little else except in engendering grievous errors which are ravaging the Churches and ruining souls. Among the do-nothings all mischief begins! Give a man practical work for
Jesus and keep him at it, and he will, like Peter, learn as he goes and, like a river, filter as he flows. Peter could not continue to believe in restricting the Gospel to the Jews after the Lord had bid Cornelius send for him from Joppa, that he might teach him the Gospel—his actual service refined his theory!
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