Pastor James Park’s sermon from Shiloh's Lord’s Day Service on April 7, 2019
Remove the leaven from your houses
On Wednesday, the 14th day of the first month, God commanded Israel to keep the Passover. They took a lamb on the 10th day which was on a Saturday; they examined it and then killed the lamb and applied its blood to the doorposts. On Wednesday, the 14th day of the first month, they kept the Passover. During the night of the 15th day of the first month, Israel made their exodus out of Egypt. From that time on, God commanded Israel to keep the Feast of the Unleaded Bread for seven days (Exod 12:14-15). On the 21st of the first month, they crossed the Red Sea which was the last day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread. Therefore, they ate unleavened bread for 7 days, for God commanded, “But on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses." This was a memorial to be kept forever. God warned, “For whoever eats leaven will be cut off from Israel (Exod 12:15). So, what is this yeast or leaven referring to?
The spiritual meaning of leaven
Spiritually speaking, leaven is referring to wrong teachings. Jesus warned, “Be aware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt 16:6, 11-12). Although they taught the Law, they used it improperly to judge and to criticize. However, they took real pride in themselves of keeping the Law and they thought that they were the only ones who believed the best. The Law and the Ten Commandments need to lead us to repentance from sin and teach us what is right and what is wrong and reveal our sins (Rom 7:7; 3:20). As the Law reveals to us our sins, it leads us to repentance and belief in Jesus Christ (John 5:39). If the Pharisees and Sadducees had properly taught the Law of God, the people should have recognized Jesus when He came, for He is the fulfillment of the Law and came according to the Scriptures. Instead, the people killed Jesus and did not recognize Him. The Bible declares that the Word of God is a mystery and was hidden from the leaders; otherwise, they would not have killed the Lord of Glory (1 Cor 2:8-11). Jesus was the Lord of Glory, but they did not recognize Him and crucified Him. The leaven or yeast that God wants us to remove from our houses is the wrong teachings which are those things that go against the Word of God. Therefore, let us take the Word of God and examine ourselves and remove all of the wrong teachings, ideologies, and speculations that are set against the Word of God. A spiritual battle is taking place between God’s Word and Satan’s word. Thus, we need to have discernment between what is good and evil.
The hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducees
Outwardly, the Pharisees and Sadducees appeared holy, but inwardly they were ravenous wolves (Matt 7:15). This “outwardly” is the meaning of hypocrisy; they spoke outwardly saying one thing, but were different inwardly, which is double-mindedness (Luke 12:1). They had no consistency in their hearts nor their actions and their words. They would say one thing outwardly but have ulterior motives. They criticized and looked down on others but inside they could not even keep the Law themselves. Jesus rebuked the religious leaders saying, “You look like “whitewashed tombs” having a clean outward appearance but inside like dead bones (Matt 23:27). In light of the Word of God, everything at some point will be revealed (Luke 12:2). We need to remove the hypocrisy from our lives.
The leaven of harlotry and adultery
Adultery is idolatry, which is breaking the covenant with God and forgetting and leaving our true husband, Jesus Christ. This yeast or the leaven that God commands us to remove is talking about the wrong teachings, hypocrisy, harlotry, and idolatry in our lives (1 Cor 5:1-13). During the period of lent, we have to examine our lives to see if we have any of these kinds of elements in our lives. We need to reflect on the Word of God and remove these things from our houses (Col 3:5).
Conclusion: Our bodies are the temple of God, the house of God (1 Cor 3:16). This is also true for our church and our families. So when God says to remove the leaven from our houses, it’s referring to our personal lives. Physically, we have to clean ourselves and spiritually we have to remove all of the leaven, which is the teachings that go against Jesus Christ. Leaven starts out small, but when it goes into a person or a community it spreads really quickly and infects the whole body. We have to be able to discern between good and evil with the help of the solid food which is the Word of God. The Apostle Paul was able to discern between good and evil and recognized the evil spirit of a woman who was following him. Outwardly, the woman cried out, “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation” (Acts 16:17-18). Paul was annoyed and commanded the evil spirit to come out of the woman in the name of Jesus, and it came out that very moment. Therefore, we have to be discerning and know the spirit behind that word. Is it God speaking or evil spirits speaking? We have to be very careful of demonic spirits and their yeast or leaven. We have to totally commit ourselves to God and be transformed (Rom 12:1-2). As we become transformed, may God acknowledge our faith.