THEME: Pervasive Evil
These parables show the subtlety of Satan is evil.
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”
As Christians, we must be on guard against Satan’s tactics. We are warned not only against his infusion of his own people into the Christian community, but also against the visible church’s bureaucratic growth (which confuses size and structure with spiritual fruit) and against the infusion of evil into the lives even of believing people (which confuses a loving and forgiving spirit with treason to Christ’s cause). In other words, we are to beware of the secular church and evangelical secularism as well.
The secular church is one dominated by the world, as much of the contemporary church is. It is characterized by the world’s wisdom, the world’s theology, the world’s agenda, and the world’s methods. The evangelical church, when it is secular, is one that seeks to do God’s work but in the world’s way. It looks to the media and money rather than to God and his power, which is unleashed through prayer.
What can the evangelical church do if it finds that it has been permeated by the “yeast of Satan’s strategies? Under normal circumstances, yeast that has begun to work cannot be eradicated. That is why it is such a good picture of the evil that will be in the church and world until the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. But although in baking we would have little success in ridding dough of leaven, in the spiritual realm we can have successes—at least where we ourselves (and perhaps our immediate families and churches) are concerned. Paul writes to the Corinthians, “Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast” (1 Cor. 5:7). In Galatians, where he has been talking about the yeast of legalism, he says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).
Satan is active. The yeast of the Pharisees will work. But “thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57). In the next parables we are going to see the divinely imparted character of those who seize the kingdom and achieve that victory.
How would you characterize the secular church? the evangelical church? When is the evangelical church secular?
How can you guard against doing God’s work in the world’s way?
What specifically can you do to help the church? Take some action this weekend.
Review ways these parables alert us to strategies Satan uses to hinder God’s work.
Satan is active. The yeast of the Pharisees will work. But “thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).