Morning Bible Study
Jesus’ ministry is well under way, and the people have been amazed not just
at the things He’s been teaching, but the things He’s been doing.
Over the last few studies we’ve followed Jesus to a dinner party being
hosted by a Pharisee.
Pharisees were good at pointing out the faults in others, but they were
equally good at finding excuses for their own faults.
Jesus began to challenge the Pharisees to learn to deal with the inner
issues of their heart instead of only being concerned with what others saw on
:1 In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered
together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples
first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is
:1 an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together
As Jesus has been confronting the Pharisees, a huge crowd gathers. The people are stepping on top of each other.
The things He’s going to say to His disciples are in light of the huge
popularity that Jesus is experiencing at the moment.
When there are a lot of people around, a lot of admirers, there can be a
temptation to “play to the crowd”.
You can start to pretend to be something that you’re not in order to keep
the attention up.
:1 He began to say to His disciples
Jesus is aiming this next teaching at those who are following Him. He is not aiming it at the Pharisees.
:1 Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees
Leaven is any kind of agent that, when added to bread dough, causes the
dough to rise, making it lighter and better tasting.
The most typical type of leaven is yeast, a biological agent that reacts to
the sugars in the bread dough and converts the sugar into carbon dioxide and
Here’s an experiment you can actually try at home:
Video: Active Yeast
You could say that yeast works through corruption or decay.
When leaven is discussed in Scripture, there are two distinct ideas
It only takes a pinch of yeast in a bit lump of dough to affect the entire
Sometimes this is a good thing, like when you’re trying to bake a cake.
Jesus used this idea when He said,
13:33 NKJV) Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like
leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all
Leaven works by decaying the thing it’s put inside.
Sin does the same thing, causing decay in our lives.
When you put these two pictures together, you get a disturbing image.
Just like leaven, a little bit of sin in our lives can cause huge damage,
both to our own self as well as affecting others.
Sin’s like that.
When one goes down, it affects others.
When Joshua and the Israelites conquered the city of Jericho, a man named
Achan took some things that were forbidden from the city and hid it in his
When the Israelites moved on to conquer the next city, Ai, they had a
humiliating defeat because of this hidden sin.
God told them why…
(Joshua 7:13b The
Message) … There are cursed things in the camp. You won’t be able to face
your enemies until you have gotten rid of these cursed things.
Whether or not you will acknowledge it, your sin affects
those around you.
When Paul was rebuking the Corinthian church for allowing an immoral man to
go unchallenged, he wrote,
5:6–8 NKJV) —6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little
leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump,
since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed
for us. 8 Therefore
let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and
wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
When a family celebrates Passover, they are careful to
make sure there is no leaven in the house.
It’s a picture of a life without sin.
Don’t misunderstand me here – I am not saying that we need to remove all
sinners from the church.
The church would be empty if we did that.
The issue is that we don’t hide our sin and leave it
We need to help each other lovingly wage the battle over
sin in our lives.
:1 which is hypocrisy
This is the “leaven” of the Pharisees.
hypocrisy – hupokrisis –
the acting of a stage player; hypocrisy
An actor was called an hupocrites.
In ancient Greece, acting wasn’t as refined as it is today.
Instead of an actor being good at expressing their feelings or emotions, they
simply held masks up over their faces when they read their lines to show
whether or not they were happy or sad.
The essence of hypocrisy is trying to be something that you’re not. It’s hiding behind a mask.
Don’t forget the thing about leaven – that it’s “contagious”.
When one person starts acting like a hypocrite, those of us aware of it can
become “infected” and start to think that it’s okay to pretend to be something
that you’re not.
Why do I pretend?
I think that one of the issues at the heart of hypocrisy is that of
Perhaps I am afraid that if others saw the real me, they would be upset and
probably not accept me.
Perhaps I have a hard time accepting myself for what I am, so I pretend to
be something else to make myself feel better.
Warren Wiersbe: Hypocrisy does to
the ego what yeast does to bread dough:
it puffs it up.
The other night I had a strange dream and when I woke up I felt like I had
two things that God wanted me to tell each of you.
Or rather, two things that I wish each of you would tell yourselves.
You are greatly loved by God, even with all of your flaws.
5:8 NKJV) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were
still sinners, Christ died for us.
3:16 NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that
whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
John 3:16a NKJV) By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.
I’m not saying God doesn’t want you to change or deal with
your sin, but the Bible says that despite your sin, God loves you.
Video: The Passion
– Cross and Communion
I can’t help but think of the joy Jesus felt that even at
the cross, one of those He loved was being saved.
When you watch what Jesus went through on the cross for
us, do you ever wonder if He thinks you’re worth it?
In God’s eyes, you were worth the sacrifice of Jesus.
Otherwise, why would He have allowed Jesus to die for your
sin if He didn’t think that you were worth the cost He had to pay?
It’s easy for me to say this to each of you because I too have a sense that
this is true for each of you.
You are greatly loved.
You are a person that Jesus thought was worth dying for.
What I actually find difficult from time to time is thinking that these two
things are actually true of myself.
In my dream, I felt like God wanted me to say these things to myself in the
mirror – face to face with myself. That’s
not easy to do.
This is not some sort of “positive confession” or pop psychology, but
something to admit as truth despite all of my sins and weaknesses.
It’s not something I should say after I’ve gotten all cleaned up, shaved,
and looking good for the day, but when I’m at my ugliest, at my weakest, at my
most sinful condition. (that’s about the ugliest picture of me I could find –
when I was having a “sleep study” done five years ago).
Don’t do it when you look like this, but like this… That’s you without the
Here’s what I would like you to try for me this morning.
Do you have the ability to take a “selfie” on your phone right now? Send it to yourself and add this text: “Greatly
loved” and “Worth it”.
Or … you could try writing those two phrases on two 3x5 cards and taping
them to your bathroom mirror.
When I grasp the truth that God loves me and God thought I was worth dying
for, perhaps I will stop feeling like I need to pretend to be something I am
It is a wonderful motivation to want to change, to do it in response to
God’s love for me.
:2 For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that
will not be known.
:3 Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the
light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on
:2 there is nothing covered that will not be revealed
That’s kind of a scary thing, isn’t it?
It seems that every few weeks some new scandal is being uncovered.
Last summer 32 million names were released of people who were a part of the
Ashley Madison website, a website that promotes infidelity. Their motto was “Life is short. Have an affair.”
names was a pastor who ended up committing suicide because of the
shame he was afraid would occur when his involvement was uncovered.
Last week a set of papers were released to the media of those who were
hiding money from their own governments in order to not pay taxes on those
Hundreds of world leaders were among the names.
Some, like the Prime Minister of Iceland have already resigned, and others
are under pressure to step aside.
Back in 2007 a prostitution ring in Washington D.C. was uncovered that
exposed some of Washington’s elite to scandal.
The lawyer of the “madam” is now threatening to release all the names and
phone numbers which were never released, claiming that it will impact the
upcoming presidential election.
As of April 5, the Supreme Court has denied the lawyer’s request to lift
the “gag order”, but the lawyer has threatened to release the documents anyway. Is there something to this? Or is he just someone who wants attention?
Even if your name has never been linked to any of these scandals, there
will be a day when each of us will stand before God, and if you haven’t dealt
with the issues in your life, your “records” will be uncovered by God.
Growing in truth
It is possible to live your life under the mask of hypocrisy.
We don’t like certain parts of our lives, so we make up stories or just try
to put on a good face.
Ananias and Sapphira had been living a lie.
They sold a piece of property and made it sound as if they were giving
every penny to the church. In reality,
they had kept some of the money for themselves while pretending to give
everything. Peter told them,
(Acts 5:4 NKJV) While it
remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own
control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to
men but to God.”
God was so serious about keeping hypocrisy from getting a
foothold so early in the church that they both died.
When David had hidden his adultery with Bathsheba and even tried to cover
it up by having her husband Uriah put to death, he found out that God knew his
God even shared the secret with the prophet Nathan who confronted David on
In David’s psalm of confession, David wrote,
(Psalm 51:6a NKJV) Behold, You
desire truth in the inward parts…
God wants us to be honest with ourselves.
When I don’t live my life in a transparent way, in an honest way, without
secrets, I’m actually just cheating myself.
The Greek word for “truth” in the New Testament is aletheia, which means literally “uncovered”.
God wants us to live our lives in truth.
NKJV) but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him
who is the head—Christ—
Learning to be honest with each other is how we grow up
In the twelve step programs, they have a phrase that I
like. They call it “rigorous honesty”.
To be honest, some people are a little too honest … like these kids…
Sometimes we are reluctant to be honest with others because some people
won’t know what to do with your honest.
There are some people who can’t handle the truth.
You need to be a little careful who you start to share the
You might not need to share the “truth” with the entire
room, but you might want to start with someone who can handle it.
It might be a leader at church, it might be a counselor,
it might be a good friend if they are someone who knows the Lord.
Whether everyone can handle the truth is not an excuse to
hide the truth.
Living in the truth is like being in a room with the lights on.
As long as the lights are out and the room is dark, I can ignore certain
things that I can’t see.
But when the light comes on, and I look in the mirror, I can’t ignore what
is before me.
(1 John 1:7 NKJV) But if we
walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Video: Truth Project – Dark Closet
I want to challenge you today to let a little more light into your life.
Open the closet door a little wider.
It’s better to be honest now than to wait for the time when everything is
shouted from the rooftops.