Saturday, September 16, 2023

Leaven of Hypocrisy - Luke 12:1-3 - September 20, 2023

 Luke 12:1-3 Leaven of Hypocrisy

Good morning! Turn with me in your Bibles to Luke 12:1-3, page 871 in the pew Bibles.

This morning we are going to look at a one point sermon from Jesus. 

Now remember that Luke did not necessarily organize his Gospel in chronological order so this sermon from Jesus may not have taken place immediately after the preceding verses. 

Luke tends to group things more thematically so since the last passage was dealing with the problems of the Pharisees it makes sense that our text for this morning would follow it.

These statements of Jesus take place near the height of His popularity which would have been especially troublesome to the Pharisees and Scribes but was not delivered necessarily to the crowd at large. Instead it was a warning to His disciples against hypocrisy.

Let’s look at our text and jump in.

In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

Let’s pray.

Before we get too far, let’s define our terms so we are all on the same page. I love doing key word studies to get a little more meat out of my studies. And as I look at this text there are two key words that jump out at me, leaven, and, hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy is something that we have talked about over the last few weeks.’

It’s a word that is borrowed directly from the Greek hypocrites, which means to play a part or pretend, to give an impression of having certain purposes or motivations while in reality having quite different ones.

“Hypocrites,” was the name of the man credited with inventing acting and plays. In Ancient Greece plays would be performed by only a few men who used special masks to represent each character and actually had cones hidden in the mask itself to amplify their voices when performing. (This is what I learned at University…)

Now there’s a certain irony to the idea that masks were used in the plays to pretend to be someone that you weren’t. It certainly seems like it helps us to further understand what being a hypocrite, or acting hypocritically really is: hiding the truth behind a mask.

I’m sure that most of you who have ever had occasion to talk with unbelievers about the church have heard someone say that the church is full of hypocrites.

In the past I have agreed to this idea, but is that really true, is the church full of hypocrites? 

Possibly but not necessarily.

Hypocrisy, pretending to be one thing when you are really something else, or pretending to have one motivation or purpose but really having a different one is definitely a sin and perhaps some of us here are guilty of it.

But in truth, we are only guilty of that sin if we claim that we do not sin.

To the world Christians represent righteousness and rejection of sin, but the reality is that we aren’t really all that righteous and don’t always do the best job at rejecting sin. When this is exposed, the world says, “AHA! What a bunch of hypocrites!”

But do you present yourself to others as free from sin, as perfect?

We all still sin, we are all still in need of God’s grace, none of us are perfect. It’s only when we pretend to be otherwise that we are guilty of hypocrisy.

The Pharisees were true hypocrites, they were frauds, they pretended to be holy when they were not, and that’s what Jesus was warning His disciples to avoid.

The second key word, which really came first in our passage is leaven.

Leaven is yeast, a substance that can be found everywhere. 

Yeast is very useful, it can be used in baking and making alcohol, but it can also be used to give your hair shine and refresh your skin, it can also be used to keep away slugs, which is great.

People often think that in Scripture leaven, or yeast, only ever represents sin, but in reality it doesn’t. Jesus used leaven as an illustration of the working and growth of the kingdom of God like yeast in a lump of bread dough in Matthew 13:33, and also later in Luke 13:21.

Leaven is used to represent sin in many other passages. But Jesus’ use of leaven in this passage where it does represent sin, and the others where it represents the kingdom of God, is really to represent something that may be small but is powerful and pervasive. It only takes a little bit of yeast to profoundly affect a whole lump of dough.

In this instance, where leaven represents sin, it does so powerfully because of the effect that yeast has on dough.

Consider two loaves of bread made from the same lump of dough. One of the loaves had yeast added to it but the other didn’t. They started out as one lump of dough and were divided equally and were equal in weight. 

The loaf with no yeast was baked immediately and the one with yeast was allowed to rise before baking.

The heat from the oven killed the yeast and it stopped rising because yeast is actually living organisms that digest sugar and give off carbon dioxide.

So despite the minute difference in weight added by the tiny bit of yeast, these two loaves still weigh the same because yeast only puffs up the bread but adds nothing solid.

John Calvin wrote, “We now perceive the reason why hypocrisy was viewed by Luke as equivalent to doctrines invented by men, and why he included under this name the leavens of men, which only puff up, and in the sight of God add nothing solid, and which draw aside the minds of men from the right study of piety to empty and insignificant ceremonies.”

Yeast only puffs up but in God’s sight adds nothing solid. This is Jesus’ warning to His disciples.

The leaven of the Pharisees was their hypocrisy, they were puffed up before the eyes of men but in God’s sight were just empty air pockets.

Verses 2-3 say,

 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

RC Sproul wrote, “Ultimately, every mask of hypocrisy will be ripped off. At the judgment seat of God He will separate the real from the counterfeit, the genuine from the hypocritical.”

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:4-5, It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

The day is coming when every man and woman who has ever lived will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and will have to answer for every evil thought, word, and deed.

The only escape from having all our sin laid bare for all to see, the only escape from the horror and shame of that is faith in Jesus Christ.

Because on Judgment Day when the righteous Father looks at us, by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ our sin will be hidden by Christ’s righteousness. When He looks at us he will only see Jesus.

We’re fooling ourselves if we think that it is enough to be seen as righteous in the eyes of men and not give a thought to having to deal with Almighty God.

Alistair Begg said, “If we do things, in religious terms, simply for the rewards of men, as the Pharisees were prone to do, then our motives will one day be disclosed.”

Jesus will bring to light what has been hidden in darkness, our motivations will be exposed, every word we whispered in the dark, in secret thinking no one would ever hear will be brought to light and shouted from the rooftops.

The leaven of hypocrisy is so pervasive, so tempting, so destructive to the church. We need to pursue just the opposite, honesty, integrity, simplicity, and love.

We need to pursue honesty, to be honest with ourselves and with the Father and with others about our sin.

We need to pursue integrity, to act in private like we would act in public. Act like the Father is present with us because He is.

We need to pursue simplicity. To reject all the scheming and hiding and covering up that hypocrisy necessitates.

We need to pursue love which encompasses all these things. Love for the Lord our God and love for our neighbor.