Be On Your Guard Against Spiritual DangersAuthor: Esaú Crespo
Too many failures in life are caused by the lack of orientation! We understand there are people with such stubbornness and rebellion who refuse to listen to a word of advice but there are also many people willing to accept discipline. We can say of this latter group of people that if we provide them with sound and timely advice they will not fail in life. In this passage we see the Lord Jesus providing opportune advice to his disciples so they might not fail in life by enbracing the doctrine of those who do not serve the Lord Christ. Consider the following Bible passage:
"For lack of guidance a nation falls,
but many advisers make victory sure" (Proverbs 11:14)
God has not left humanity in the dark as the deist believed, asserting that God is neither interested in the creation nor the history of mankind. Now think about how God has blessed us and continues to do so:
- He has given us His word. The Bible is God's message so that human beings can live under the direction of the word of God.
- God has given us his Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God and one of his ministries is to guide man on how to live in obedience to God and keep him from failure.
Jesus Himself is the light of the world as we read in John 1:9:
"The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world."
Jesus is the light of the world and those who follow Him will not walk in darkness, but the light of God will illuminate his steps in this world. Christ is the light of the world! Let's observe how the Lord warns his people about the spiritual dangers of this word:
I. The yeast of wickedness
"Be careful," Jesus warned them. "Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod." (Mark 8:15)
The man who governed Israel at the time Jesus was born was Herod "The Great". This man was so evil he assassinated his wife Mariamme and his three sons, just because he suspected them of plotting against him. During the days of this kingdom innocent blood was shed as a consequence of the cruel and inhumane government of this ruler suffering with a classic insanity...power. If human history started from the days of this criminal government, Herod would then be the precursor of evil. We must ask ourselves: Is Herod from another world or someone who has a different human nature than the rest of us? Neither! Each and every one of us has the capacity to commit the most criminal and barbaric atrocities given the right conditions. The Lord says that we don't know "what spirit we belong to" in other words, we do not understand what we are capable of given the opportunity. For that reason, Christians must have a close communion with the Lord and He will protect us from sinning against God and against our neighbor.
In I Corinthians 5:7-8 the apostle Paul gives us this admonition:
"Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth."
History teaches us that Herod "The Great" as well as his descendants maintained the same kind of government until the romans removed them from power.
Therefore, beware of the yeast of wickedness. By the way, why does the Bible refers to yeast to illustrate all wickedness and every idea contrary to God's truth? Interestingly enough, the Bible says that God would not allow offerings of leaven bread. During the week long celebration of Passover, unleavened bread was required.
But what is yeast? It is a microscopic single celled orgnaism whose purpose is to break down organic matter. It is responsible for the decomposition of biological material.
In the spiritual world sin is illustrated through yeast, the seed of wickedness. Evil is present in each of us, but it can't do anything because of the presense of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
Be on your guard against another kind of yeast.
II. The yeast of hypocrisy.
"Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." (Luke. 12:1)
Hypocrisy is the absence of sincerity. This word is associated with Greek theater where actors used to hide their true faces behind a mask.
The Pharisees pretended to obey God, but such obedience was not genuine because the Lord, in Matthew 23, makes a detailed analysis of their current condition. The Word of God provides many examples of people who pretended to be devoted to God, but in reality they were against God.
Let's remember two illustrations:
Herod said he wanted to worship the baby Jesus, but in fact he wanted to kill Him.
Judas Iscariot said to Jesus: "Greetings, Rabbi!" and he kissed him in the right cheek, but to Judas, the Lord was just an instrument he used to make a profit. We could add more names to the list of those who just appeared to be devout, but their hearts were far apart from God. Be on your guard against the yeast of hypocrisy.
We are in this world but we are not of this world:
"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?
What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.
Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.
I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.
Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." (II Corinthians 6:14-7:1)
III. The yeast of tradition.
The Lord condemned the traditions of the Pharisees because they considered them just as important as the Word of God:
"Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat!
Jesus replied, And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?" (Matthew 15:1-3)
We are not saying all traditions are wrong, in fact there are some good traditions as long as they submit under the authority of the Word of God. For example, these are some of the traditions celebrated by the western Christian church:
- Christmas dinner
- Elder's Day
- Independence Day
- Mother's Day
All these are good traditions because they tend to strengthen family bonds, praise God and, as we said at the very beginning, they submit to God's approval
IV. The yeast of unbelief.
The Bible passage clearly admonishes to beware against the yeast of the Sadducees. The Sadducees were the rationalists of those days. They denied the existence of everything their senses could not perceive. The Bible lists some of the teachings the Sadducees rejected:
- They did not believe in the afterlife.
- They did not believe in spirits.
- They did not believe in agelical beings.
We must cultivate our faith with the Word of God and prayer in order to avoid being contaminated with doubt and disbelief. When doubt takes control of our minds and our hearts it is when the spiritual breakdown begins. The following passage shows us the reality that we live by what we believe:
"So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?
It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.
I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.
But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,'
and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards.
The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.
He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 24:44-51)
How can we protect ourselves from these dangers?
- Pray (Matthew 26:41)
- Congregate (Matthew 18:19-20)
- Make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20)