After boiling it all down, there are really only two spiritual doctrines on the earth today: the doctrine of Christ that was adopted by His apostles and the doctrine of His arch-enemy Satan. After receiving our initial salvation, we are told to purge out the old leaven, the old erroneous teachings about God passed down by friends, family, and the churches. This getting rid of old concepts is an important part of the first apostles’ doctrine, repentance from dead works. But what is the “old leaven”? And where did it come from?
A stout dualism in spiritual matters pervades to this day. From the very beginning, a hostility and an animosity has existed between the offspring of Satan and the Seed of God. In fact, God said that He “put enmity between” Satan’s seed and the woman’s seed (Gen. 3: 15).
Each camp provides doctrines explaining their purposes and plans. Christ has His teachings that when followed, helps us fulfill His purpose and ushers us into His heavenly city New Jerusalem. Over two thousand denominations claim to have the true teachings of Christ. None can agree. Schisms abound. But one truth emerges, which is expounded in Christ’s doctrine. He changes not.
The Root of Satan’s Doctrine
To learn what the “old leaven” is, we need to understand Satan’s teachings that loom so desirable to the mind of man. His doctrine entices men to lower their eyes unto the “weak and beggarly elements” of this world’s imaginations, which is the wisdom from beneath (James 3: 14-17).
Satan deceives men by masquerading as Christ’s preachers and teachers! “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness…” (II Cor. 11: 13-15 RSV). They use “enticing words of man’s wisdom,” to expound “a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (I Cor. 2: 4; Prov. 16: 25). According to the apostle Paul, Satan’s ultimate deception comes out of the world’s pulpits! Erroneous teachings about Christ are rife, so much so that we must ask ourselves, Is Christ divided? (I Cor. 1: 13).
Satan’s doctrine exploits man’s inner weaknesses. “All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” are the road to man’s demise (I John 2:16). Most men trade their souls for the feigned fulfillment of their earthly desires. They are suckers for what their five senses experience. And as a bird rushes headlong into the snare, even so do fools trust their eyes and ears. Foolish men are easily deceived by their five senses; they are trapped by their own desires (Prov. 7: 6-23).
And yet, natural man continues to trudge on down the same road that his elders trod, leaning on what he has seen and heard. He has been told lies about politics and the economy and spiritual matters. But most of all, the deception dives below his ability to discern between what is right and true, and what is wrong and false. For all of his life, man’s mind has been plied with error. And because no one challenges these packaged pre-conceived notions about God, they become unproven assumptions. And then man’s pride deceives him into believing the errors. The same thing happens to little children of God who are admonished to “prove all things” using the Holy Scriptures as the standard of truth (I Th. 5: 21; 2 Tim. 3: 16). If we seek, we shall find (Matt. 7: 7).
Therefore, any doctrine other than Christ’s doctrine that His apostles taught is from our enemy who masquerades as a messenger from God. These false teachings and doctrines are called “old leaven” by the Spirit and they must be repented of. They must be renounced and utterly removed from our hearts and minds. And they are many.
In Christ’s day, Satan’s doctrine came primarily through the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Herodians. They controlled what was taught about God in the houses of worship of their day. Christ had it out with them; He said to their face, “You are of your father the devil” (John 8: 44). Christ told us to “take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” We know that leaven in the natural world is the yeast that makes bread rise. And a little bit of it quickly spreads through the whole lump of dough (Matt. 16: 6; Gal. 5: 9).
Christ explains the spiritual aspect of leaven to His disciples. They had thought that Christ was talking about the yeast in the Pharisee’s bread, to watch out for it. He went on to tell them that the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees was their doctrine. It was their teachings about God that they should beware of, for they will spread quickly through your hearts and minds—like yeast. “Then understood they how that He bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Matt. 16: 6-12). Their teachings, their walk, and their manner of life were a false representation of the true teachings of God. Today when we walk in false concepts about God, we are leavened bread, and bread with old leaven does not please our Father because He wants us to grow spiritually to be like Him. Kenneth Wayne Hancock