NOT TAKING ANY LEAVEN
Following this, we have the third case in which the Lord Jesus charged His disciples not to take any leaven. "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (Matt. 16:6). These three cases should be joined together. We need to take in Christ as the crumbs, but we should not accept any leaven. We should take the bread and the crumbs of the bread, but not the leaven. The Lord Jesus only gives us bread; He never gives us leaven.
The Leaven of the Pharisees
We must beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. What is the leaven of the Pharisees? It is to be religious, scriptural, fundamental, outwardly right, and yet have no life, no Spirit, no reality, and no sincerity. Please remember all of these words. The hypocrisy of the Pharisees was not simply that they did evil things while pretending to be good. The hypocrisy of the Pharisees meant that they were religious, scriptural, fundamental, and outwardly right, yet they had nothing of the Spirit, of life, of reality, and of sincerity. This is leaven. This kind of leaven can still be found among Christians today. People may criticize us for shouting and praising the Lord, saying that we are crazy, while they consider themselves to be sound, good, and fundamental. In a sense, they are today’s Pharisees, having no life, no Spirit, no reality, and no sincerity.
The Leaven of the Sadducees
What is the leaven of the Sadducees? The leaven of the Sadducees means to be realistic, reasonable, and philosophical. This is like the modernism of today. We may say that the modernists are modern Sadducees and that the Sadducees were the ancient modernists. They are both in the same category. They are realistic and philosophical, but they do not believe in God, in the Word of God, or in resurrection. They do not believe in anything that is divine because they are so philosophical and reasonable. There is no reality among them because they, like the Pharisees, lack the Spirit and the life. This is the leaven of the Sadducees. Today, we are confronted with both fundamentalism and modernism. The leaven of the Pharisees is simply today’s fundamentalism; the leaven of the Sadducees is today’s modernism. We should eat the crumbs of Christ, but we should not accept any leaven.
Do not wash your hands outwardly; that means nothing. The washing of hands represents outward correction, improvement, and adjustment. To change, improve, and correct our behavior is signified by the washing of hands. The Lord Jesus is not concerned about the outward change. He is concerned about your inward being. What is within you? What is in your heart? That is what really matters. Whatever we perform outwardly will never change us. But we have the Lord Jesus who is good for our eating. He can come into us. Although we are not qualified to eat the children’s bread, we are fully qualified to eat the dog’s crumbs. If the dogs eat the crumbs, they will be transformed into children. However, don’t eat any leaven. While you are eating the crumbs, there is the danger you may take in the leaven. We should separate these two things. We should take the bread, but reject the leaven.
We look to the Lord that in the local churches there may be many crumbs of Christ, but no leaven of fundamentalism or modernism. May there be the Spirit, the life, the reality, and the sincerity. These are the crumbs for us to enjoy. This is for the kingdom life. While we are following the Lord Jesus in the wilderness during the time of His rejection, we must take care of our eating.
If we have seen the vision from Matthew 15, we will not be concerned for the outward washing of hands. We will only care for the inward eating of the crumbs. I don’t care for any outward washing. I only care for how much you have eaten the crumbs of Christ. While you are eating, beware of the leaven. When you are hungry, you need to be careful what you eat. It is wonderful to eat the crumbs, but it is better to remain hungry than to eat leaven. Both fundamentalism and modernism are leaven. Even if you are starving, do not accept any leaven. Only take Christ. The crumbs of Christ may not have such a good appearance, but they are so nourishing. You should gladly take them in. However, regardless of how good or nice it appears, never take in leaven. Don’t be concerned for the outward washing of hands. Only care for the inward eating of the crumbs of Christ.
(The Kingdom, Chapter 25, by Witness Lee)