Introduction Dietmar Joosten
We welcome everyone - those who often come and those who have come for the first time. We pray that the Lord is in our midst. Without Him, we would be here. When God spoke to Ezekiel, He said, ‘Listen to what I will say.’ He drew his attention every time He spoke. May we not get used to things. We should be prepared to hear what God says every time He speaks. By His grace, God may be preparing us for something we do not even know about. He wants us to sanctify ourselves so that He can speak and we can hear. Let us never get used to it and use our own intellect to translate what God wants to say.
We greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We thank the Lord for this opportunity.
7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 1 Corinthians 5:7
A while ago we visited schools in the Zastron district. It is heart breaking to see the condition of the young people. At a primary school some learners got into a fight and stabbed one another. Some learners died. What were they fighting about? Drugs. The teachers at that school were at their wits end because the children were uncontrollable. After we had spoken to the children, the teachers gathered the trouble makers and those with problems. The children told us to our faces, ‘You can’t do anything to me!’
After we preached at a high school, some came for prayer. Some came to miss class, but some were genuine. One of them was related to a child from the primary school who had killed one of his classmates. The two of them, one in junior high and the other in the primary, live in the same home. Now, however, the boy could no longer live there because he was threatened by the community due to his brother’s actions. His brother’s sin was passed on to him and he could no longer live in peace.
Why do I share this with you? I was deeply troubled by the youth. If you speak to them about proper conduct and moral living, you speak fairy tales. The reality is that they grow up in homes where there are no parents. Many do not know who their fathers are, they have never seen them. They harbour bitterness and grudges against their parents brought them into the world and deserted them.
Some say they have problems with parents who don’t understand them. I responded with, ‘I don’t grasp what you are saying!’
They said, ‘So you also don’t understand, just like our parents! We just want to have space; they must give us space to live. They restrict us. They don’t understand.’
‘So what is this space you want?’ I asked.
‘We want the freedom to live our lives,’ they said.
‘Explain what you want to do with your space. What liberty do you want? Then I can speak to the teachers/parents and help them understand the space you want,’ I said.
‘Our parents live in the past, we live in 2022 – times are different!’ they said.
The first one spoke. I thought he was a young man, but when he began speaking, I doubted whether he was a man. He had a beard. He said, ‘Our parents think that if you are born a male, then you are a male. If you are born a female, then you are a female, but they don’t understand.’
‘Maybe you do explain well,’ I said. ‘I have three boys. When they were born the doctor told me that they were boys and I was happy.’
‘You also don’t understand. We must have the space to be what we want to be,’ they said.
Where does this come from? They have been influenced and that they can be something in between male or female. Parents, you might think you have a daughter but she might be a boy or something in between, because ‘you don’t understand’.
When these topics are addressed, you may think it is far away. But when you move around, it is very real and advancing. Some of these people call themselves Christians, but they live like that.
One person said to me, ‘I am born again, but I don’t understand what you say about looking at our cell phones.’ I wondered, ‘Is he really born again?’ I had addressed this topic and said that some do not have girlfriends because their cell phones are their girlfriends. He said, ‘Yes, it is. I look at what I want to look at it.’ I told him to his face that his Christianity was disgusting and that I did not want to have anything to do with it. The darkness is pitch black and increasing. Praise God for those who still see the light of God and a glimmer of light.
In this chapter, Paul speaks about things which are not befitting a Christian church. But Paul addresses these things that they may sanctify themselves from them.
My topic for this morning is yeast or leaven. Paul tells these believers to get rid of the old leaven. I pondered on this word ‘leaven’ and its meaning in the context of God’s people called by His name. Paul spoke to the church and not unbelievers. The things he addresses are more appropriate for people who have not come to faith.
Brethren, allow me to speak about old leaven in the life of a believer. You may have met the Gospel and been converted. A person realises his need for Christ and says, “I commit my life to Christ.” We were not born believers, some have lived in sin for a long time, others a shorter period. Some may have been born into Christian families, but that does not make them believers. The point I am making is this: when we meet with Christ, there are things that pertain to our lives before we met Him that are not in agreement with Christ and that we should get rid of. If a person meets with Christ, he must reach the point of full surrender so that God can achieve His purposes. That person comes to God and exposes his life before God so that the Lord can reach each dark corner in his life. God strips him of all that is ungodly. It is not easy for a believer to lose that miracle that God performed in that believer’s life. It is not easy for such a person to give up in difficult times. Such people know what they have experienced, and they cry to God to work in their lives.
There are those, however, who met with Christ by raising their hand in a service and repeating a prayer. That is good, but that is where it ends. When troubles and difficulties come, it is easy for that person to throw in the towel. If such a person experienced the amazing things of Christianity, without truly meeting with Christ and allowing Him to work in their lives, it is easy to give in to sin when it comes across their way.
If you have really met Christ and gone deep with the Lord, you will deal with sin. You will not brush it aside and regard it lightly. ‘It was just a thought…’ If you have allowed the Lord to work in your life, you cleanse out the old leaven and scrub yourself clean of all unclean things then you will be a true believer.
In the past few years when the church faced terrific storms, people’s faith was truly tested to see whether it was genuine. It was clear who had only ‘met’ Christ but not truly. Their foundations were shaken. Those storms tested their true character, the real core of their faith. Was it genuine or was some of the old yeast still in their lives? If it was, the old things came forward.
If the storms come, what rises in your life? Can you also stand your man? Paul says, ‘Cleanse out the old leaven.’
When I was young, I had a cousin who drank the bottle. I had to prepare the bottle and I learned lessons through that. Sometimes I took short cuts – I poured fresh milk into the empty bottle. The child drank a little from it and it soon it went sour. I did not wash the bottle before reusing it. Then I tried simply rinsing the bottle and filling it. The milk also went sour. I thought the milk was the problem. Then I used soap and washed the bottle properly before refilling it. The milk did not go sour. I realised that the secret lay in how I washed the bottle. One day I washed the bottle but not the teat. It was not long and the milk went sour.
Let us apply that. When God convicts a believer and he says his reputation is at stake so he just skims the surface to make things look decent. You have not got rid of all the yeast. It will not take long before things will go bad again.
You may have a racist spirit. You might be black and think you can treat other races as you wish. You also pass this on to your children. If you have domestic workers, how do you treat them? Children, how do you treat the people who help in your homes? Is your life like a sweet fragrance to them? They might enter your home as an unbeliever but they see this wonderful fragrance of Christianity in your life and want it as well. Can the person working for you say that your family is truly a Christian family? They see Christ in your lives? Do you walk over a floor that has just been cleaned because you say that someone has been paid to clean it and they will clean up after you? Do you throw your clothing into that corner and expect someone else to clean up after you? You still have the old yeast in you. You have always been an untidy person and you are still like that. You may have a pet. You wanted that dog and it makes a mess. You call the domestic helper to clean up. The child tells the adult to clean the mess. You were untidy before your conversion and you are still like that. You may have been blessed with a washing machine but nobody including the domestic worker is allowed to touch that machine. The worker pleads with you to switch it on and you get irritated. Have you really been converted?
There are people whom the Gospel really worked on just as you work leather. You can visit their home at any time and you will be met with a smile, you will feel welcome. In other homes, however, this does not happen. What a difference!
People who are in managerial positions suddenly no longer touch work, they only point at what must be done but do not get involved. Others managers, however, get stuck in the work and you would never say that s/he is a manager because they work harder than anyone else.
What rises like yeast in your life? You might have the problem of a jealous eye and you do not know what to do about it. You have not overcome. You have never been dealt with. God has given you much but you are dissatisfied. Your jealous eye casts a long look and you ask why is he like that and I am like this? If you do not deal with the yeast of jealousy, it will rise and grow until it explodes. The yeast of criticism will boil and grow. It will take you from the front row of the church to the back row and eventually out.
How did it begin? It was very small, almost insignificant. You allowed it and it found a foothold in your life and now you cannot remain silent. You speak about the other person and the evil you see in him/her. You gossip, but in a civilised manner. Eventually, however, that flask will be under such pressure that it will just burst open. When it bursts, what a stench there will be!
You may be a believer for years, but if Christ hasn’t dealt with you you are easily offended by people – someone easily steps on your toes. Does that person own heaven, or Christianity? But because of that you want to leave with Christianity. Shows that you have never met with Christ – just with people who have met Christ.
We have not really met up with storms – not much yet. Maybe if true storms come, maybe then it will be easy for us to let go of Christianity – we haven’t really lost anything yet.
Allow me to use an illustration. I considered this old yeast and it troubled my heart. I considered the congregation. Has the old yeast been dealt with and removed? I looked at Paul and considered Rev Stegen and concluded that if God has truly dealt with a person there is not even a hint of that thing remaining in a person’s life. If the Lord has dealt with a person so that they have truly surrendered all then any storm can come that person’s way and they will be unmoved. Storms cleanse and sanctify that person even more. When we meet difficulties, challenges, storms from the family, spouses, or in whatever form they come, do they leave us higher than we were before or in the mud?
You may have sent your child to school where he misbehaves. The parents are called in and informed. Are you one with that? Are you lifted to a higher level of holiness or do you say that you knew for a long time that the school had something against you and your children? The old yeast rises and leaves you dirty. When the storms blow, do they leave you with rising yeast in your life? At your place of employment, you experience pressure and stress and this causes the old nature to come to the fore. You have never truly met with Christ or you have done things half-heartedly. The pressure can cause a person to become moody. He no longer smiles or talks because he does not want to. Yesterday everything was fine and the weather was good weather. Three months later that person may apologise about his behaviour. He is just playing around. If we have met Christ and given Him all, it should be evident in our lives all the time.
The true pioneers of God found this Gospel through sweat and tears and they remain filled with joy and songs of praise no matter what the pressure is like. But we say, ‘This is too much for me, I’d rather pack my bags and leave.’ If things do not go your way at your place of employment, you have so much to say, but when you get a rise in your salary you do not even acknowledge it and ask why it has been raised. If you are R5 short, you say, ‘These people call themselves believers but look at how they decrease my salary?
At school you are known as a clown and the things you clown about do not build you or anybody else. You have become known as someone who causes problems at school because you want to be noticed. Then, when you are given a platform – to pass – you do not pass. When you are given time to sing, you do not want to sing. You just want to be seen in those things that are inappropriate.
How do we treat one another as family members? Can it be seen that the yeast in a person’s life has been dealt with and removed? Can God testify that we are truly one? When people visit our homes, do they see Christ? Not a fake Christ – putting your best foot forward – but when you are taken by surprise, do you still show forth Christ? Some people are like paraffin lamps, you must pump them for the light to shine. Sometimes it splutters. Today you are on fire. Tomorrow not. Today you show respect and honour at home but the next day there is a screw loose. You greet those you esteem but someone who is not your type, you do not greet, or you mumble. Children talk about your greeting to their parents and say, ‘I greeted this person but he did not greet back?’ What kind of Christianity is that? It costs nothing to greet. Look at your life. Where do you stand and how do you walk? Test and examine yourself before the storms come that will reveal your true colours; before that bottle is shaken up and explodes. There are storms that come upon everyone who is in the same boat and there some which are aimed at you personally.
How sad it will be if the Gospel ends with us and does not get passed onto the next generation. What a disgrace if it is said that the mother or the mother-in-law treated us so well but look at how these people treat us now. What a shame, if the Gospel could be seen in the generation before us but this new generation is the “excuse me” type. If they saw the Gospel in the previous generation and not in us, hell will be ours. If the storms come, the flasks will explode and spread a stench. What a disgrace, brethren. For some people, it does not need a storm to see their true colours.
Those who received the revival stand firm and nothing moves them but those who come afterwards and walk into all the conveniences brought through the revival, easily let go of this Gospel.
You may be filled with grudges and pack your bags. ‘So and so does not want me, so and so is like that!’ You pack your bags with grudges and you think you will be a blessing where you are going, never! Your disobedience at school causes you to collect order marks – you are packing your bags. When you receive a letter forbidding you to return to school the following year, you cry, but you were the one who packed your bags.
Some start on this way but find it too narrow. It was not created by man to be too narrow but the Christ, the founder of this way, made it so narrow. You will not persevere on this narrow road if you still have your own way of doing things, your own preconceived ideas as to how things should go, otherwise you are not happy.
You know what yeast is in your life, no matter how small or insignificant it is, it will make the milk sour. Leave a little bit of it behind and it will spoil everything. It works through everything. The way you live in your home is what you pass on to your children and they do not respect. If you do not cleanse every little bit of yeast, it will grow. The yeast of pornography or lust, ‘No, I don’t watch it on my cell phone. I don’t look at explicit sites, I flip past quickly,’ but you frequently visit the sites so that you can see it in passing.
You might wash and rinse the bottle but the teat is not clean. Just that is enough to make the milk sour. Is everything washed by the Lord Jesus?
Conclusion Dietmar Joosten
Thank you for the clear word. Recently a lady said to me, ‘One day we had a visitor at the mission. She was converted in revival overseas. Rev Stegen told her (a girl at that time) to watch how the lady sat because it was clear by the way she sat that she had been converted in revival.’ Do you hear that, young people? If you, young girl, have not been taught how to sit properly, how on earth will you sit as an adult? A person will have to close his/her eyes or look the other way when you sit. Those who wear trousers sit in any fashion because of the old yeast.
We grow plants. When the plants are small, they are very susceptible and if you neglect them, as a God-fearing parent, do not be surprised when there is suddenly a virus or leaven. Where does it come from? If you are not careful to disinfect everything that pertains to little plants and their food, they will get a root disease. Back in the nursery, when the plants were small, some disease infected the plants. The child grows so well, she is so beautiful, her hair is so beautiful, she is a real diamond but there is leaven, a disease is born and you see it in the hair. Where does it start? It started in the nursery years ago.
Parent, there is leaven, but you do not see it. There is disease but you do not see it. You cannot see that your daughter is on the wrong track. You are fast asleep. You have leaven, you have a disease. Get it out. I have learnt to be careful from day one. Do what is necessary from day one even if it is hard work and the plant will be healthy. If you slip and do wrong, it will show up later. ‘I didn’t know my child was like this, I didn’t expect it!’ What parent/farmer were you? Answer!
Repent. Friends, repent today, cut it off today. It will save the rest of your life. Bring that disease that you have always covered up to the light. Do not find fault with someone else. Repent today.
If a person looks back at his own life, there are places where you know that if you had not repented then, you would be dead today. God took me and it was tough but because I repented from that thing and never, ever did it again, I found grace. That is where the old leaven was destroyed. Do this today. Do not make excuses with your hard head and stubbornness. You cannot bow now because as a baby you could not bow.
Remove that old leaven today and you see what God can do in your life.