A Little Yeast Works Through the Whole Batch of Dough

“You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the One who calls you. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty” (Galatians 5:7-10 NIV).

“A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough” implies is that a very small amount of yeast is able to work through and ferment a large amount of dough. Is this really true, or just “old school thinking” that has been overtaken by today’s advancements in cooking technology?

Below is the recipe we use at home for making 100% whole wheat bread using a bread-making machine. However, this recipe might as well work for baking bread in the oven.

  • 1¼ cups lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 3½ cups whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup sunflower, sesame or flax seeds, or a combination
  • 1 cup of nuts and raisins/craisins
  • 1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1½ teaspoons instant yeast

Using the standard conversion (US) of 1 cup = 16 tablespoons or 1 tablespoon = 0.0625 cups; and 1 cup = 48 teaspoon or 1 teaspoon = 0.0208333 cups, all the ingredients total 6.5 cups (including 0.03125 cups of yeast). Therefore, in terms of percentages, yeast constitutes less than 1% (0.48% in the above recipe) of all the ingredients for making bread! So, even today, it still takes a tiny amount of yeast to make a whole loaf of bread rise!

What is Yeast?

In the Bible, and especially in the New Testament, yeast is used as a metaphor for something very small that causes great consequences. Yeast is used mostly to symbolize evil disposition, corruption, malice, wickedness, or uncleanness. For example, The Lord Jesus warned His followers, “Take heed and beware of [be on your guard against] the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6 NKJV) “… and the leaven of Herod (Mark 8:15). Here, Jesus was warning us to watch out and be careful of the wicked influence of the Pharisees and Sadducees, which includes deceptive teaching (Matthew 16:12) and hypocrisy (Luke 12:1, that is pretending or claiming to have moral standards or beliefs that do not conform to one’s actual behavior or true character). Here’s what the Lord Jesus said of these teachers of the law:

“The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ (Matthew 23:2-7).

The Bible also uses yeast as a metaphor for the Kingdom of Heaven:

Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened” (Matthew 13:33 NKJV)

Yeast has a dynamic and active character, which makes it very powerful and effective. When you knead yeast into the dough, it begins to grow and expand by itself. Likewise, God’s Kingdom has a very powerful influence, dynamically growing and spreading through a person’s life by the inner working of the Holy Spirit (using God’s word). The Kingdom of God is not influenced by man’s strength, but grows by God’s power from an insignificant beginning, like a small mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32; Mark 4:30–32), to eventually spreading throughout the world and lasting forever (Daniel 2:35, 44–45; 7:27; Revelation 11:15).

In this message, we will focus more on the first metaphor for yeast.

Yeast in Church

Today, there are many people who excuse “small errors” or rationalize and justify certain teachings (in Church and Christian ministries) that are contrary to what the Bible truly teaches. A Christian church or ministry may teach 99% truth, but if you believe the 1% error, it may mess your life and calling here on earth or even cost you everlasting life. For example, believing false visions and false teachings regarding the Lord’s coming or idolizing a pastor. One may justify a pastor’s immoral behavior or a ministry’s teaching as “this is just life” or rationalize that “no one is perfect”, but soon the yeast will manifest itself in true colors with deadly consequences – the loss of eternal life. Remember, it only takes a tiny amount of yeast! This does not mean that you should avoid fellowship with other believers or stop going to church altogether, but that it is very important to learn to discern truth from error.

Here are some warnings from the Bible on false teachings and false teachers.

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them (Matthew 7:15-20 NKJV).

For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect (Matthew 24:24 NKJV).

Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves (Acts 20:28-30 NKJV)

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber (2 Peter 2:1-3 NKJV).

Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:14-18 NKJV).

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables (2 Timothy 4:3-4 NKJV).

How to Detect and Avoid Yeast

Apostle Paul wrote: “Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival (Feast), not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:6-8 NIV).

One interesting thing that we have noticed about yeast is that it kind of looks like flour, and once you mix it in the dough, it blends into the ingredients and you can hardly detect it! Have you ever listened to sermons or teachings from people whom you respected and mistakenly put your trust in their messages, believing that they had “done their homework”, double-checked their message against Scripture, but you later realized that some of the messages they were sharing were not consistent with what the Bible says? We have to confess that we have fallen into such a trap before and painfully learned the lesson that “it is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man” (Psalm 118:8). For believers who are running the race to life and aspiring to enter through the narrow road that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14), blindly trusting in man is a dangerous posture to take (Luke 13:24; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27). The Bible teaches us to be like the Bereans, who, while Paul was preaching to them, “…received the Word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). In other words, in order to detect yeast, we have to study the Word of God and test everything in the light of the Word. We should not swallow everything we hear being preached (from the pulpit, TV, or online) hook, line, and sinker, but “test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). In a world where spiritual deception is so rampant, we have to live by faith and by the Word of God (Matthew 4:4; Romans 1:17). From our own experience, we have found that being on a Bible-reading plan is a very effective way to continue learning the Word and meditating on it. In God’s Word, we learn to know Him, discern truth, and learn to distinguish His voice from the voice of Satan. As we embrace God’s Word, we find healing, comfort, assurance, and deliverance from erroneous beliefs that came as yeast mixed up in the dough.

Erroneous teachings and hypocrisy are not always obvious and they can be hard to detect. This often happens when one part of Scripture is expounded to justify certain things, while blatantly ignoring other parts of the Scripture that add context and clarify the whole message. A good example is when the Pharisees attempted to challenge the Lord Jesus on marriage and divorce (Matthew 19:1-10). Another way to detect yeast is when, for example, someone corrects you about something and your emotions start rising inside, causing you exude bad fruit by responding in a very negative manner. When you find yourself being overly defensive or aggressive and not speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), perhaps there is a lie and false belief at work. In order to be delivered from yeast, we must be humble and acknowledge our blindness (Psalm 51:17; Isaiah 66:2; John 9:41). When we humbly and sincerely acknowledge before the Lord that we could be wrong about our ways and our beliefs, even though they may seem right in our eyes and in the eyes of the world, we allow Him to open our eyes and deliver us from error and yeast. As the Lord says in His Word, “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NKVJ). The time we invest daily in God’s Word and prayer gives room to the Lord Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit to teach us. He graciously shows us even the 1% yeast and replaces it with the Truth which truly sets free (John 8:32).

If you would like to have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, we invite you to start with this Prayer of Salvation. For any questions or comments about this article or our ministry, please feel free to contact us.

Abundant Grace and Peace in the Spirit,

Brother Abes and Sister Janet.