2Co 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
BEWARE THE LEAVEN
Jesus Christ cautioned His disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and in Luke 12:1 He defined that leaven as hypocrisy. In Matthew 16:12, the disciples understood that the leaven that Jesus referred to was the doctrine of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Both the hypocrisy and the doctrines of the religious leaders of that time walked hand in hand, as they do today in the lives of many who are in Christian leadership. The source of hypocrisy and false doctrine has the same root… PRIDE. Friend, whether you are a pastor, a teacher, a prophet, an apostle, or an evangelist, or even if you have not yet realized your calling, I encourage you to sincerely examine yourself to determine whether any leaven has crept into your walk with Jesus Christ. The question put before you is this: Are you really in the faith, or has your walk been tainted with the leaven of the scribes and Pharisees? Are you willing to sincerely examine yourself in the light of the Scriptures in order to determine whether or not you are IN the faith?
Your immediate response might be to think "Of course I am in the faith! I have been in ministry for 20 years"! Or "I prayed to ask Jesus Christ to be the Lord of my life 15 years ago! Of course I am in the Faith! This must not apply to me."
But the answer to that question can't be determined by what you say you believe, the size of your congregation, or the seeming "success" of your ministry. It doesn't even matter if you have a lot of respect and admiration from the people in the community. These are not true measures as to whether you are in the Faith or not.
The Pharisees said they believed in God, and prayed to Him several times in a day. Yet Jesus said they had become tainted with leaven. The Pharisees had large congregations in the synagogues, but Jesus rebuked them in the strongest tones for the leavening influence they had on followers of Judaism.
By the world's standards, their ministries would have been seen to be huge successes by all the wealth that was accumulated through the tithes and offerings they received from their followers. Yet Jesus warned against the leaven of these leaders who were respected and admired by many.
You may be a leader in the Church or you may be a faithful tithing member of a congregation. Whichever the case may be, this booklet is an appeal to the professing Christian to examine yourself to see whether or not you ARE in the Faith or if you have been tainted by the leaven that Jesus warned us about. Whether you are open to receive this or not, the truth of the matter is that the leaven that has permeated the Christian Church in America is leading to the "great falling away" or apostasy foretold in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, and unless we sincerely search our hearts, we will find that we have contributed to that great falling away, and were actually instruments used to bring it about. God's Word is not to be taken lightly:
2Ch 7:13 If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; 14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14 is a living and wonderful promise to the people of God. It is a promise of hope and tremendous possibilities in the light of seemingly impossible circumstances. But the promise requires true humility on the part of the People of God and an earnest desire to conform to the Will of God for your life regardless of the cost. "If my people" refers to a collective body. If the leaven of Pharisaical doctrine and hypocrisy has crept into your church or into your life as an individual, you will be incapable of obtaining that promise.
Most Christians desire to see a mighty move of God that will transform our cities and our nations. But we can't serve two masters…Either Jesus Christ is Lord of your life, or you are. Are you willing to humble yourself and examine your walk before God? I would encourage you, dear reader to pray to the Lord for insight as you read this and have a willing heart to get rid of the leaven that is in your house.
The leaven of the hireling
Many Christians pray for the Lord to call them into ministry, but too often their motivation for ministry is employment as a source of income. Many (not all) enroll in seminaries to get a paying position as a pastor. After they graduate, they "candidate" from church to church in order to get the job. After they get their job, many times they negotiate with the "Church board" for more wages. They attempt to justify their ways by quoting Luke 10:7 where Jesus said "the laborer is worthy of his hire", which is true, but when these words were spoken by Jesus, he was instructing the disciples that He sent out into the cities to remain in the household where they were received and to eat whatever was set before them.
In no way did Jesus tell them to negotiate for terms for their ministry ("If I am going to stay in your house, I want steak instead of hamburgers! If you are not going to serve me steak, then I have to find another household!")! As a matter of fact, in 1 Tim 3:3,8 and Titus 1:7 those who are called to be overseers of the church and ministers (deacons) in the church are admonished that they are not to be greedy of "filthy lucre", nor are they to be covetous.
"Filthy lucre" is better translated as "Base gain", and according to the expositor's Greek Testament, we read this definition: "The rendering 'not greedy of filthy lucre' is unnecessarily strong; the word consists, not in the source whence the gain comes, but on the setting of gain before one as an object in entering the ministry. 'Not greedy of gain' expresses the writer's meaning." The word translated "not covetous" means not being fond of money or loving money, not desirous of worldly substance and riches (Gill, Vincent, Barnes, et al.).
It is obvious that in the Church in America today, a great number of Christian ministers are in ministry for wages, which is a violation of the instruction which is found in 1 Timothy and Titus. The minister who is in the employ of a church for a negotiated wage is guilty of having embraced the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. It's not wrong to receive offerings from those you minister to, but if you negotiate for wages, you have lost sight of the true meaning of what it is to be a minister of the gospel, and have become a hireling, rather than a servant of God.
The hireling who reads this may protest, and say "This man is crazy! How does he expect a pastor to live and support his family without a steady income?" My answer is Faith. God is faithful, and He will provide for those who He calls in Service to Him. Do you preach about faith? Then you should live by faith. Not by faith in your ability to convince people to sow into your ministry, but faith in God Who will provide all of your needs (not greeds) according to His Riches in Glory! How can you preach about faith toward God if you rely on men and their substance to be your help? If you are in ministry, you have probably quoted Psalm 37:25 numerous times.
Psa 37:25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
My question to you is do you BELIEVE the Word of God? Are you willing to really step out in Faith and trust Him alone for your provision? Or are you holding on to the doctrinal leaven that tells you to put your trust in man, and to rely on a steady income for your service to others?
Most so called "Faith ministries" would fold in fear and anxiety if they thought they had to rely solely on God for their sustenance.
Mat 23:1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: 3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. 4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
Friend, you may scoff at this, but the Pharisees derided Jesus because they were covetous (Lk 16:13-14), yet it didn't change who they were.
As you examine yourself, can you honestly say with utmost conviction that you are not a hireling? Have you embraced the leaven of the Pharisees? Are you in the ministry for the money?
A good way to determine whether you are or not is to ask yourself if you hold office hours, receive a negotiated salary for your time, and have a private home number. If you answer yes to these, the chances are very good that you are a hireling, and you need to repent or get out of ministry, because you are making a mockery of God when you call yourself a minister of the Gospel while you build your own kingdom and line your pockets with filthy lucre.
If you are a hireling, the truth is that your leaven of hypocrisy is hindering a true move of God in your church. Don't confuse successful programs and orchestrated meetings with revival. Shake yourself from the leaven and let God be glorified! If you are in the ministry to further the Kingdom of God you will be freely available to minister to anyone at any time of day or night, and your home phone number should also freely be available to anybody so they can call you at anytime if they need help. This leaven will eventually spread and will give birth to other forms of leaven:
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