It only takes a small amount of yeast to make a large mound of dough rise and change into leavened bread. During the Passover celebration, Jews were not allowed to use any yeast, nor was it permitted to be anywhere in their homes (Ex 12:14–-20).
Yeast was used as a metaphor for evil teaching and hypocritical leaders. Bad teachings and attitudes can lead an entire group down a wrong and dangerous trail.
In Matthew 16:6, we are commanded to “be continually watching out” for false concepts. The disciples had been trained to follow and respect their leaders, and now Jesus was warning against them. The warning is repeated in verse 11, with a clarifying statement in verse 12, referring to “the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
The “Pharisees and Sadducees” were considered as a group. They were enemies of Jesus’s teachings and attempted to manipulate the population with fear, ostracizing or even killing opponents to protect their power base. Jesus prohibited such tactics (Mark 10:42–-44).
Jesus saw the Pharisees, who were legalistic interpreters of the Jewish law with thousands of traditional applications they could not keep (Matt 23:13–-36). The Sadducees were the religious, politically correct members of the aristocracy. Though they accepted the five books of Moses, they did not believe in the resurrection (22:23–-33) or angels (Acts 23:6–-10).
An incorrect view of morality had led the Gentile Corinthians to allow perverse “sexual immorality” to remain unchallenged within their congregation. Paul said, this “is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened” (1 Cor 5:6–-7).
The true disciple is to be alert to the destructive influences of judgmental legalists and weak, politically correct deniers of biblical truth and morality. Both of these views teach a critical, retaliatory attitude toward anyone who opposes their traditions.
New Testament instructions and commands are ignored and their value minimized in favor of the legalistic traditions and politically correct power struggles of intimidating leaders. We are never to tolerate fear, threats, and intimidation among us.
“Lord Jesus, I want to be alert to destructive beliefs. Guide my daily learning through Your word so I may not allow ‘little’ ideas to sneak in and corrupt Your truth.”