In the Acts
Now we need to see the evil things which are contained within the great Babylon. These things may be considered as leaven. First we need to read Acts 5:1-11: "But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land? While it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why has thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things."
We may say that this is the first record of leaven creeping into the church life. What kind of leaven was this? This leaven may be considered as hypocrisy, falsehood, or simply a kind of showing off. They did something to make a show. Although they were not that consecrated, they made a pretense of consecration. This is the first leaven that Satan attempted to put into the church life. This account shows us that in the church life we must be pure. We must be in the reality of the kingdom, and we must be pure in our doing good. If we would do good, we should not blow a trumpet or make a show. It is better for us to hide ourselves when we do good. We should not pretend. We should not seek after vainglory. We all must be careful today. Especially with the matter of money, there is a great temptation. Either we would not give at all or we would give in a way to seek glory. That is leaven. We must be careful. All of the leading brothers must be alert to keep the door shut against this kind of thing. Sometimes when people donate something to the church, they have an attitude of seeking vainglory. This is the first leaven which crept into the church life.
Another account of leaven creeping into the church is found in Acts 8:18-23: "And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Spirit. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity" (lit.). For Simon to consider that the gift of God could be purchased with money indicated that his heart was not right. This too was a kind of leaven, related not only to money, but also to pride. Simon wanted to be able to lay his hands on people for them to receive the Holy Spirit. He wanted to be somebody. This kind of leaven is very subtle, and it is within us all.
Acts 15:1 reads: "And certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved." To teach in this way is a kind of leaven. It is the leaven of a wrong teaching. On the one hand we do not care that much for the doctrines, but on the other hand we must be alert that no improper doctrines could come in to damage the church life.
(The Kingdom, Chapter 44, by Witness Lee)