In reading through Mark 8 last week, the one part of the scripture that kept sticking out to me as I read it each day was verse 15, which reads:
“Then He charged them, saying, 'Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.'”
I think the reason this verse caught my attention, is because for many years I had no thoughts, good or bad, about yeast but all that changed a short 5 years ago. It was then, I learned that the primary cause of the issues my family had been plagued with for years (depression, Asperger Syndrome, Dyslexia, sensory issues, speech issues, anger outbursts, etc.) was rooted in a common yeast infection we shared. Thus, the word “yeast” tends to be one word I take great pains to notice and deal with on a daily basis.
The reality of the bad yeast that had proliferated my digestive system, which had been given the right conditions to flourish because of my prolonged use of antibiotics when I was a teenager (a common scenario for many people my age who were told by their doctor that it was an effective treatment for acne), was the culprit for some very devastating issues I dealt with as a teenagers and young adult. But what is even more unfortunate about the effects of this yeast overgrowth, is that as I eventually got married and had children, I passed my poor gut flora and yeast overgrowth onto my children. (The new data which came out recently confirms this long time suspicion of mine.)
The official name given to an overgrown yeast infection in the gut is Candida, and its treatment requires an intensive starvation of the yeast, basically removing all sugar and carbohydrates from the diet which the yeast feeds on, while at the same time replenishing the gut with good bacteria so eventually when repopulated with the good bacteria the bad bacteria can be kept in check – not removed completely, but outnumbered.
Just like yeast in bread dough spreads throughout the entire lump of dough, so too does yeast in the gut infect the entire gut system. If there is a plethora of good bacteria to fight against the bad bacteria (some of that being the yeast that causes Candida), then the body has no issues. But if the good bacteria is outnumbered by bad bacteria and harmful yeasts, then it eventually loses its battle in the fight to dominate the gut and the gut flora becomes compromised and starts to grow and wreak havoc in the body and with all of its connected systems.
Here are some interesting verses from 1 Corinthians about yeast that I would like to add into this discussion:
“Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” 1 Corinthians 5: 6-7
Just like our physical balance of yeast in the gut needs to be maintained with a healthy balance of bacteria that continues to fight against the toxins and yeasts which we are bound to be exposed to our our world every day, these verses point out that our spiritual balance of truth must also be maintained to overpower the lies and evil we come in contact with on a daily basis. Purging out the sinful places in our lives as God leads us to do so, being willing to starve out all evil influences, and taking an active roll in fighting against those things that Jesus died to save us from, is what Paul is talking about in these verses. The reference to Jesus, our Passover lamb, reminds us that the purging has been done by His blood alone. What is left for us to do, is to be willing to allow His blood to remove all the sin that currently dwells within us, and then persevere, with hearts set right, to maintain that balance as the Holy Spirit directs us in repopulating our hearts, minds, and souls with God's truth.
Maybe you have never considered the balance of good and bad, in either your gut or your spiritual life, but these verses call us to out to remember that we must take an active roll in making sure the balance we maintain in both of these areas are as right as we can keep them within the scope of our own human efforts. Perfection is not something we can achieve, but working towards having more of the good and less of the bad is a goal we must strive for if we truly desire to be living temples of our Lord and Savior. Anything else would be compromising to a life that is much less than that which God desires for any of us to live.