by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2 March 17, 2013 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(247)Thesis:The danger of any false concept is its ability to transform a person's entire outlook.
Introduction:Last week we looked into the issues involved in "running well". We noted that such activity has its roots in the summons of God. It moves from there to the "conviction" that comes from God to develop a "persuasion". Out of persuasion comes the skill of "running well". The problem is always that which Paul calls a "hindrance". This is always, initially, another "persuasion" that arises out of the presentation of a false concept as a "truth".
This evening we are going to look into Paul's comment/warning in 5:9: "A little leaven leavens the whole lump".
I. The "Theological" Background.
A. Early in Israel's history, "leaven" was presented as a negative factor.
1. The consistent issue in the Old Testament is that the use of "leaven" required a certain amount of "wait" time.
a. This "wait" time was for one purpose: to enhance the tastiness of bread.
b. Though the "norm" was to allow this "wait" time so that the bread could be as tasty as possible, this "norm" was, without dispute, simply an allowance for the appetite.
1) This means that physical enjoyment was at the root of this "norm".
2) This means that one of the most basic problems of humanity was in focus: the lusts of the flesh.
c. Typically, the Old Testament allowed the use of "leaven" most of the time.
2. The consistent message of the Old Testament is that there is never an "allowance" for "hesitation" to do the will of God because of the necessary "wait" time of physical appetites.
a. This was of sufficient importance to actually catapult "The Feast of Unleavened Bread" into national and historical prominence.
b. The point is that self-indulgence is never acceptable when a "persuasion" has arrived from God.
1) Hebrews 3:7; 15; and 4:7.
2) Exodus 12:15.
c. A corollary point is that no one should ever get so used to self-indulgence that he/she is caught by it (and that raises the issue of 1 Corinthians 6:12).
B. Jesus used "leaven" in a good way in Matthew 13:33 to simply emphasize the inescapable reality of a growing, but incremental, pervasiveness that occurs when something is embraced as a most fundamental truth.
C. Paul never used "leaven" in a good sense and, apparently, had a somewhat favorite expression regarding it (compare 1 Corinthians 5:6 to our current text).
II. The Galatian Setting.
A. The Galatians were being tempted by another of the most basic weaknesses of man: the desire to be well spoken of by one's contemporaries (the pride of life syndrome).
B. The root of the Galatian setting was the Jewish distortion of gaining acceptance by superior performance of rules seen as "good".
C. God had stepped into the Galatian setting with a gospel that offers acceptance, but not at all on the basis of good behavior.
1. In order to gain the acceptance of God, the Galatians had to stop all of the "I'm not so bad" blather and admit to themselves, and Him, that their sinfulness completely destroys any hope of acceptance on the basis of "how good I am".
2. At issue in Galatia is this root issue: a one-time admitting of personal sinfulness would not carry the weight of a lifetime of living.
a. In order to live well, the admission of personal sinfulness must be daily and real.
b. There is, as with leaven, a permission of indulgence in the giving and receiving of compliments, but, as with leaven, it is never to be allowed to become a reason for hesitation in walking with God.
III. Paul's Point.
A. There is no concept that does not have a "leavening" impact if it is "believed".
B. The problems with "believing" are several.
1. A person can easily "believe" something when it initially comes with its "support" in an absence of contradiction.
2. But, given the heart of man (his values), and his ignorance, there are few things that do not have opposition "out there" and, when a thing is believed, that opposition eventually comes.
3. What Paul is addressing in Galatia is not the myriad false concepts that the Galatians live by; it is the problem of their willingness to jettison a "truth" because it has begun to demand a loyalty that will make the Galatians look bad.
C. When God "summons" and "persuades", He requires "faith".
1. Nothing that comes later is to be allowed to unseat what He has established as true.
2. In Galatia, the issue is His character in respect to Grace.