"How is it that ye do not understand that I spake [it] not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade [them] not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees." Matthew 16:11-12
In the earlier scriptures, Jesus rebukes the disciples because of their focus on carnal things: bread itself. I find that interesting because sometimes we focus on the carnal things that do not matter, yet we miss the big picture. But, Jesus was not talking about physical bread. Rather, the spiritual bread which is the Word of God. Jesus warned the disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. The Greek word used for leaven in this passage is, "ζύμης." The word literally is "a metaphor of inveterate mental and moral corruption, viewed in its tendency to infect others." Jesus was warning them of the infection that is false teaching. A couple chapters before, the Pharisees and scribes asked Jesus why he was breaking the tradition of elders by not washing their hands before they ate. Jesus responded, "[a]nd why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?" This is what Jesus talks about, I believe, when he warns of the corruption of false doctrine. Sometimes, what we are taught all of our lives-- especially the ones of us who grew up in a Christian home-- is not the Spiritual truth. The hard part is coming to the realization that some things that we are taught just are not what God teaches.
There is much debate over what I am about to discuss. But, this is what I believe the Word is trying to teach. Let us not focus on the different interpretations, but let us focus on the Truth.
In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul is getting on to the church in Corinth because they are boasting about how they are handling sexual immorality within the church by "mourning " for the decision of this brother in Christ. Paul then states, "Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8. The symbol of unleavened bread is the symbol of purity. We are called to be "unleavened Christians," not being conformed to the yeast-- which is sin. The dying on our cross has cleansed out the old leaven-- which may be traditions or sin (both are the same). Christ has been sacrificed; therefore, we are made holy and righteous. Our former lump was infected with traditions, malice, evil-- to put it simply, our old selves were sinners. But, Christ, the perfect sacrifice, has come in and made us pure.
But, the problem is the infection of ourselves. An infection effects the whole body. If we do not see the infection in ourselves, it will overtake us. In order to be diagnosed that we have an infection, we have to humble ourselves and hear God speak. The metaphor of leaven lines directly up with the metaphor of the vine and branches. Any branch that does not bear fruit is thrown into the fire; that is because the branch that does not bear fruit is indeed an infection. Because we are made holy, our old selves have been crucified. That crucifying of ourselves is the 'unleavening' of our ourselves. The cross is our purifier-- it is what allows us to be true Christians. We do not kneel at the cross, we go through the cross.
The question arises again: are we buying into a false doctrine just as the Galatians did? Are we living in sin and justifying it with, "Well, I have forgiveness. God loves me no matter what, and I am just a sinner." What a travesty! The sin is our infection. By living in sin, we buy into the wrong pictures of grace, righteousness, holiness, and purity. 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ They cast out demons and prophesied in His name. Yet, He said depart from me. I never knew you. Those people believe that they are saved and on a path to heaven, yet live lives of sin. They have deceived themselves. They built their house on the sand which is false doctrine that leads to self-righteousness and carnal contentment. The Gospel has been disfigured and changed from holiness, righteousness, and purity to a gospel that leads to an end of happiness and self-contentment. The laid foundation, therefore, is the infection that keeps them from fully knowing Christ. This is the infection of current religious circles. We must repent. That is the only way to be made pure. THE ONLY WAY.