A subtle leaven which the heart is always ready to receive!
(J.C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Luke" 1858)
"Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees — which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be made known." Luke 12:1-2
The first thing that demands our attention in these verses, is Christ's warning against hypocrisy.
This is a warning of which the importance can never be overrated. It was delivered by our Lord more than once, during His earthly ministry. It was intended to be a standing caution to His whole church in every age, and in every part of the world.
It was meant to remind us that the principles of the Pharisees are deeply ingrained in human nature — and that Christians should be always on their guard against them. Hypocrisy is a subtle leaven which the heart is always ready to receive! It is a leaven which once received into the heart, infects the whole character of a man's Christianity. Of this leaven, says our Lord, in words that should often ring in our ears — of this leaven, beware!
Let us ever nail this caution in our memories, and bind it on our hearts. The plague is around us on every side! The danger is at all times. What is the essence of Romanism, and formalism, and ceremonialism? What is it all, but the leaven of the Pharisees under one shape or another? The Pharisees are not extinct! Pharisaism lives still.
If we would not become Pharisees — then let us cultivate a 'heart religion'. Let us realize daily that the God with whom we have to do, looks far below the outward surface of our profession, and that He measures us by the state of our hearts. Let us be real and true in our Christianity. Let us abhor all part-acting, and affectation, and semblance of devotion — put on for public occasions, but not really felt within.
Our hypocrisy may deceive man, and get us the reputation of being very religious — but it cannot deceive God. "For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be made known."
Whatever we are in religion — let us never wear a cloak or a mask of religion.
"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account!" Hebrews 4:13