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Spoiled Fruit and Yeast

June 27, 2017

“One bad apple spoils the whole bunch.” My Nana used to say that to me from time to time, usually referring to a newspaper story. It was usually a story about one person with bad intentions ruining something for others. Sometimes, however,  she would say it to me because my attitude, words, and actions were ruining things for myself and others around me. She wanted me to understand that how I acted and what I said had implications far beyond my own little bubble of personal preferences and desires. If I pushed, pulled, twisted, and deceived others to get my way, I would ruin everything for everyone else just to succeed in my own personal endeavor. 

The New Testament writings show the Apostle Paul dealing with the issue of personal desires being pressed through false teachings. In Galatians 5, he speaks to the church at Galatia about false teachings regarding circumcision. There were those within the church pushing for ritual circumcision as a necessity for “true believers” when Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection had removed the need for that Old Testament practice. And yet, some continually tried to reintroduce it as a necessity. However, Paul puts a stop to that issue in his letter to the church.

Galatians 5:7-10 – You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough!10 I am trusting the Lord to keep you from believing false teachings. God will judge that person, whoever he is, who has been confusing you.

False teaching spreads through the whole church like a little yeast spreads through dough to leaven the whole batch. One bad apple spoils the whole bunch. Sounds similar, yes? Paul’s words here are strong and to the point, but he doesn’t stop with coming against physical circumcision. Rather, he takes it a step further and speaks to the root cause of the dispute.

Galatians 5:13-15 – 13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. 14 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.

This is the heart of the issue! For the Galatian church, the real problem wasn’t the false teaching on circumcision; it was the sinful nature of those pushing for circumcision cropping up and trying to take control. The “bad apple” was spoiling the barrel! Paul’s admonition shows he was aware of the true heart of the matter, and desired for the church to dig it out by the roots rather than simply treat the symptoms. Referencing Leviticus 19:18, which the false teachers would more than likely have been familiar with, he speaks against fighting against each other and encourages serving one another in love just as Christ commanded.

When we live for ourselves, we trend toward a “bad apple” existence. Paul names some of the “fruit” borne by those who live that way, including sexual immorality, idolatry, hostility, quarreling, anger, dissension, and division just to name a few. Not one to mince words, Paul calls these things exactly what they are: SIN. That’s right… they aren’t “mistakes,” “human nature,” or “just who I am.” They are SIN and must be rooted out through repentance and submission to God’s Will and Way. If allowed to continue, these actions and attitudes will most assuredly ruin whatever they touch.

Today’s church is no more immune to the dangers of “yeast” infiltrating our congregations. In fact, it is my opinion that we are more likely to deal with it now due to the “microwave culture” of instant gratification surrounding us. Thanks to companies like Netflix and Amazon, we can get what we want when we want it and how we want it… right now. From TV shows to appliances and more, our own personal desires are being catered to at an ever-increasing rate. While these things are not necessarily an issue in and of themselves, they can become a contributor to the push for personal preference over God’s plan in the church. We want the furniture, paint, lighting, music, classes, service elements, and message to fit our paradigm. If it doesn’t we complain until something changes, and if it doesn’t change, we get indignant. We pray for God to bless us and our church, all the while cursing those in charge because they won’t do what we want them to do. What are we doing??? Nothing more than acting like yeast in unleavened bread or a bad apple in a fresh apple barrel. Our actions “spoil” others around us, and cause dissension and division within the body.

God calls us to live differently. He calls us to share each others’ burdens… to look to the interests of others, serve in love, respect and honor those He has placed in authority, and submit to His Will. If we do so, our lives reflect being led by the Spirit rather than our own fleshly desires. Subsequently, the “fruit” we bear looks much different. That fruit is the only thing people see, and it is a telling feature of our lives and whether or not we have truly submitted ourselves to the Lordship and Leadership of Christ. May the following passage be what people see in you!

Galatians 5:22-25 – 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

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