Like unto Leaven
This chapter is based on
the following verses:
Matt. 13:33; Luke 13:20,21
MANY educated and influential men had come
to hear the Prophet of Galilee. Some of these looked with curious interest upon the
multitude that had gathered about Christ as He taught by the sea. In this great throng all
classes of society were represented. There were the poor, the illiterate, the ragged
beggar, the robber with the seal of guilt upon his face, the maimed, the dissipated, the
merchant and the man of leisure, high and low, rich and poor, all crowding upon one
another for a place to stand and hear the words of Christ. As these cultured men gazed
upon the strange assembly, they asked themselves, Is the kingdom of God composed of such
material as this? Again the Saviour replied by a parable:
"The kingdom of heaven
is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole
Among the Jews leaven was
sometimes used as an emblem of sin. At the time of the Passover the people
to remove all the leaven from their houses as they were to put away sin from their hearts.
Christ warned His disciples, "Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is
hypocrisy." Luke 12:1. And the apostle Paul speaks of the "leaven of malice and
wickedness." I Cor. 5:8. But in the Saviour's parable, leaven is used to represent
the kingdom of heaven. It illustrates the quickening, assimilating power of the grace of
None are so vile, none have
fallen so low, as to be beyond the working of this power. In all who will submit
themselves to the Holy Spirit a new principle of life is to be implanted; the lost image
of God is to be restored in humanity.
But man cannot transform
himself by the exercise of his will. He possesses no power by which this change can be
effected. The leaven--something wholly from without--must be put into the meal before the
desired change can be wrought in it. So the grace of God must be received by the sinner
before he can be fitted for the kingdom of glory. All the culture and education which the
world can give will fail of making a degraded child of sin a child of heaven. The renewing
energy must come from God. The change can be made only by the Holy
Spirit. All who would
be saved, high or low, rich or poor, must submit to the working of this power.
As the leaven, when mingled
with the meal, works from within outward, so it is by the renewing of the heart that the
grace of God works to transform the life. No mere external change is sufficient to bring
us into harmony with God. There are many who try to reform by correcting this or that bad
habit, and they hope in this way to become Christians, but they are beginning in the wrong
place. Our first work is with the heart.
A profession of faith and the
possession of truth in the soul are two different things. The mere knowledge of truth is
not enough. We may possess this, but the tenor of our thoughts may not be changed. The
heart must be converted and sanctified.
The man who attempts to keep
the commandments of God from a sense of obligation merely--because he is required to do
so--will never enter into the joy of obedience. He does not obey. When the requirements of
God are accounted a burden because they cut across human inclination, we may know that the
life is not a Christian life. True obedience is the outworking of a principle within. It
springs from the love of righteousness, the love of the law of God. The essence of all
is loyalty to our Redeemer. This will lead us to do right because it is
right--because right doing is pleasing to God.
The great truth of the
conversion of the heart by the Holy Spirit is presented in Christ's words to Nicodemus:
"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born from above, he can not see the
kingdom of God. . . . That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of
the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind
bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it
cometh and whither it goeth. So is every one that is born of the Spirit." John 3:3-8,
The apostle Paul, writing by
the Holy Spirit, says, "God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He
loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by
grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly
places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His
grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through
faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." Eph. 2:4-8.
The leaven hidden in the
flour works invisibly to bring the whole mass under its leavening process; so the leaven
of truth works secretly, silently, steadily, to transform the soul. The natural
inclinations are softened and subdued. New thoughts, new feelings, new motives, are
A new standard of character is set up--the life of Christ. The mind is changed;
the faculties are roused to action in new lines. Man is not endowed with new faculties,
but the faculties he has are sanctified. The conscience is awakened. We are endowed with
traits of character that enable us to do service for God.
Often the question arises,
Why, then, are there so many, claiming to believe God's word, in whom there is not seen a
reformation in words, in spirit, and in character? Why are there so many who cannot bear
opposition to their purposes and plans, who manifest an unholy temper, and whose words are
harsh, overbearing, and passionate? There is seen in their lives the same love of self,
the same selfish indulgence, the same temper and hasty speech, that is seen in the life of
the worldling. There is the same sensitive pride, the same yielding to natural
inclination, the same perversity of character, as if the truth were wholly unknown to
them. The reason is that they are not converted. They have not hidden the leaven of truth
in the heart. It has not had opportunity to do its work. Their natural and cultivated
tendencies to evil have not been submitted
to its transforming power. Their lives reveal
the absence of the grace of Christ, an unbelief in His power to transform the character.
"Faith cometh by
hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Rom. 10:17. The Scriptures are the great
agency in the transformation of character. Christ prayed, "Sanctify them through Thy
truth; Thy word is truth." John 17:17. If studied and obeyed, the word of God works
in the heart, subduing every unholy attribute. The Holy Spirit comes to convict of sin,
and the faith that springs up in the heart works by love to Christ, conforming us in body,
soul, and spirit to His own image. Then God can use us to do His will. The power given us
works from within outwardly, leading us to communicate to others the truth that has been
communicated to us.
The truths of the word of God
meet man's great practical necessity--the conversion of the soul through faith. These
grand principles are not to be thought too pure and holy to be brought into the daily
life. They are truths which reach to heaven and compass eternity, yet their vital
influence is to be woven into human experience. They are
to permeate all the great things
and all the little things of life.
Received into the heart, the
leaven of truth will regulate the desires, purify the thoughts, and sweeten the
disposition. It quickens the faculties of the mind and the energies of the soul. It
enlarges the capacity for feeling, for loving.
The world regards as a
mystery the man who is imbued with this principle. The selfish, money-loving man lives
only to secure for himself the riches, honors, and pleasures of this world. He loses the
eternal world from his reckoning. But with the follower of Christ these things will not be
all-absorbing. For Christ's sake he will labor and deny self, that he may aid in the great
work of saving souls who are without Christ and without hope in the world. Such a man the
world cannot understand; for he is keeping in view eternal realities. The love of Christ
with its redeeming power has come into the heart. This love masters every other motive,
and raises its possessor above the corrupting influence of the world.
The word of God is to have a
sanctifying effect on our association with every member of the human family. The leaven of
truth will not produce the spirit of rivalry, the love of ambition, the desire to be
first. True, heaven-born love is not selfish and changeable. It is not dependent on human
praise. The heart of him who receives the grace
of God overflows with love for God and for
those for whom Christ died. Self is not struggling for recognition. He does not love
others because they love and please him, because they appreciate his merits, but because
they are Christ's purchased possession. If his motives, words, or actions are
misunderstood or misrepresented, he takes no offense, but pursues the even tenor of his
way. He is kind and thoughtful, humble in his opinion of himself, yet full of hope, always
trusting in the mercy and love of God.
The apostle exhorts us,
"As He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." 1 Peter 1:15, 16. The grace of
Christ is to control the temper and the voice. Its working will be seen in politeness and
tender regard shown by brother for brother, in kind, encouraging words. An angel presence
is in the home. The life breathes a sweet perfume, which ascends to God as holy incense.
Love is manifested in kindness, gentleness, forbearance, and long-suffering.
The countenance is changed.
Christ abiding in the heart shines out in the faces of those who love Him and keep His
commandments. Truth is written there. The sweet peace of heaven is revealed. There is
expressed a habitual gentleness, a more than human love.
The leaven of truth works a
change in the whole man, making the coarse refined, the rough gentle, the selfish
generous. By it the impure are cleansed, washed in the blood of the Lamb. Through its
life-giving power it brings all there is of mind and soul and strength into harmony with
the divine life. Man with his human nature becomes a partaker of divinity. Christ is
honored in excellence and perfection of character. As these changes are effected, angels
break forth in rapturous song, and God and Christ rejoice over souls fashioned after the