leaveneth the whole lump. Galatians 5:9
There is a profound and sobering truth contained in these few words. A little effects the whole. It is far too easy to justify our sin on the basis that it is a little one. A little sin defiles the whole.
We are reminded of this basic truth again in 1 Corinthians 5:6 - Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
Consider Lot when he was driven from Sodom just before it was destroyed. The Lord told him to escape to the mountains. Lot's response to the LORD's instruction is classic, "Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live."
It was Solomon who warned us that it is the "little foxes that spoil the vines."
We stand in great fear of the "great" sins: fornication, drunkenness, murder and the like. Yet we permit the presence of the more subtle sins for they are just "little" ones: bitterness, envy, covetousness, deceit, hypocrisy, and the like.
We fail to understand the pervasiveness of sin when we do not recognize that little sins effect the whole person. A little bitterness makes us a bitter person. A little envy makes us an envious person. A little covetousness makes us a covetous person. A little deceit makes us a dishonest person. A little hypocrisy makes us a hypocritical person.
It is not so much the appearance of these sins in our lives but the harbouring of them that makes the difference. Just as leaven needs the right environment to initiate the leavening process so sin needs the right environment to initiate the leavening process whereby the whole is effected. Sin has no leavening tendency in a heart that is in a continual state of repentance and grief over sin. The conditions are not right for the whole to be effected. Thus the warning from Hebrews concerning being "hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."
Let us be ever so careful about a "little" sin or what we might consider "little" sins. If the truth be known they may be the most dangerous kind. They are permitted to linger and at the last effect the whole. Our consecration, our character, our complexion, our countenance, our commitment, our convictions, our entire being (the whole lump) is colored by the presence of what began as a little leaven.
1 Corinthians 5:8 - Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.