Getting Away from Bad Teachings to Experience Christ
Part 6: Getting Away from Unhealthy Teachings (Mark 8:13-21)
In Mark 7 and 8, God's word is showing us example after example of how to experience Christ our Savior. Many obstacles get in our way, and Jesus reveals how to be free from 1) religious traditions, 2) tribalism, 3) the crowd, 4) our excuses, and 5) miracles. Now in part 6, Jesus shows us the importance of getting away from unhealthy teachings. We listen to preachers, read web sites and books, and even teach one another. But if we are absorbing words that are not from Him, we will frustrate Christ's growth in our heart.
The Significance of Leaven
“Take heed: beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” (Mark 8:15)
"Then they understood that he didn’t tell them to beware of the yeast of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees." (Matt 16:12)
Yeast, or leaven, makes bread soft and fluffy, filled with air. It makes bread easier to chew. It is a picture of any teachings that dilute and subvert the wholesome word of God.
The yeast of Pharisees includes man-made teachings that cheat people of the genuine experience of God, as well as hypocrisy (Matt 23:13-36; Mark 7:1-13). The yeast of Herod includes compromising our faith, mixing it with human politics (Mark 6:16-28; 12:12-14).
Herod knew the truth, but was swayed instead by human opinion. We read how Herod, on the one hand, liked to listen to John the Baptist, and kept him safe (Mark 6:20). On the other hand, when his heart was impressed by a dancing girl, he found himself agreeing to chop off his head. He did this because the voice of the crowd was stronger than his conscience (Matt 14:6-10). This is the leaven of politics, the leaven of Herod.
The Pharisees knew the truth, but twisted it for personal glory (John 5:44; Matt 15:1-9; 23:13-36). Christ did neither. He is pure and healthy, nourishing and supplying:
"Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will not be hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty" (John 6:35)
"Purge out the old yeast, that you may be a new lump, even as you are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed in our place." (1 Cor 5:7)
Yes, He is “hard to chew”, but He is full of inward supply.
Today's Yeast-Filled Teachings
What are today’s yeast-filled teachings? Anything that replaces and draws us away from the genuine experience of Christ. They include the false teaching of “going to heaven” when we die, which makes salvation for many like a promised trip to Disney World. Our goal is God himself, not a place. It degrades Christ into a means to an end, rather than the goal Himself (Philip. 3:7-12). Leavened teaching today includes the “prosperity gospel” which also turns God into a means, this time into the secret to a financially prosperous life, and avoids the healthy teaching of the role of suffering in our life (2 Cor 1). It includes the false teaching of the “clergy-laity” system, which wrongly teaches that only certain called ones serve God, while the rest are laymen, sitting in pews. The scripture reveals that we all have a gift, all have a ministry, all are priests, and all should speak during a Christian gathering (1 Pet 2:5; 1 Cor 14:26). Yeast includes teachings about praying to saints, the virgin Mary, superstitions about holy relicts, crosses, pictures of Jesus, and liturgical services that turn the dynamic worship of God into a formula to be recited (Col. 2:16-23). These all are subtle replacements for the real thing, full of air, instead of Christ Himself within us to be daily enjoyed (Colossians 1:1:24-29).
Christ and Politics Don't Mix
Herodian yeast today includes both right-wing politics that has infected the Christian faith, as well as left-wing propaganda. Christ is neither a Democrat or Republican, but the Son of God. He is not an American, a liberal, or a conservative, by today’s degraded standards. He is Who He is, and stands only with the Kingdom of God. Politics can find elements of their beliefs in Jesus’ teachings, but to claim Him for your “side” is yeast filled rhetoric. Jesus clearly separated the realm of God from the realm of politics (Matt 22:15-22). He shed light on all politically twisted hearts (e.g. Luke 13:31-33; John 18:35-38; Acts 24:25; John 1:4).
All these human inventions and additions to the word of God, have good intentions, as they are designed to make the Christian life easier to chew. That is what yeast does. But all of them take away from the reality of Christ.
Are you willing to change your diet and enjoy Christ according to His word? Eliminate all yeast from your life and watch how your Christian life comes alive.
Enjoy Christ, unleavened, in His word today!
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your heart to the Lord." (Col 3:16)
"Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore don’t be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Don’t be drunken with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; singing, and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always concerning all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God, even the Father; subjecting yourselves to one another in the fear of Christ." (Ephesians 5:16-21)