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  • Writer's picturePastor Hans Fiene

Matins Devotion: July 7, 2023

“A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” In a way, the book of Judges is an intense historical manifestation of this assertion. The book begins with the Israelites failing to do what God had commanded them–completely eradicating the Canaanites from their land and entirely eradicating the vestiges of their idol worship. Failing to heed the warning of their God and trusting in their own wisdom after Joshua died, the Israelites imagine they’d be better off enslaving them. And the end result is exactly what God and Joshua warned them against. Immediately after failing to purge the wicked ones from their midst, Israel sees and hears and smells the idolatry of the Canaanites and is enticed by their gods. Israel is drawn to them, consumed and condemned by them. Two Israelites bowing before Baal and Ashtaroth becomes four, four becomes eight, and before you know it, the entire land is polluted with hatred of God.

In all of this, we see a living, breathing verification of what Paul was telling us with these words about leaven and lumps. Even a small amount of false doctrine will destroy your entire confession of faith. Denying one aspect of the Gospel will result in you rejecting all of it. To the Galatians, it seemed like a small thing to say that circumcision was necessary for salvation. It was a quick and easy act to perform. But those who embraced this small lie ended up denying the heart of the Gospel–that Jesus Christ has given us salvation as a free gift born from His grace, not a reward for an obedience to God we could never truly offer.

So Judges warns us against the leaven found in the idols of unbelieving neighbors, and Paul warns us against the leaven found in the deceitful words of false teachers. But I would also say there’s another leaven to beware–the leaven our own hearts produce in the form of despair. Beware the leaven of that nagging voice in your head that says God is not going to keep His promises, that He has abandoned you. Root that leaven out or it will bubble up within you, spread through your heart, consume you and condemn you.

So how do you root out that leaven? You do it by running to the cross of Jesus Christ, the one who will destroy its power over you. Run to the foot of the cross where the blood of Christ pours down upon you, washing you, cleansing you, and healing you. Hear the word of the Scriptures where Christ shows you every promise He has kept and will keep. Look to the font, to the waters where you were made God’s own forever. Come kneel at the altar, come eat the body and drink the blood of Christ, the one who has purged every flake of yeast from your heart and clothed you in the incorruptible love of God.

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