Dealing With the “Leavening” in Our Lives
Throughout Scripture, leavening is a spiritual metaphor for sin, pride, hypocrisy, malice, bitterness and false religious doctrine (Pss 71:4; 73:21; Hos 7:4; Matt 16:6; Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1; 1 Cor 5:8–6; Gal 5:9). Even as a small amount of leavening agents in bread (e.g., yeast and various chemical agents) will quickly permeate bread dough causing it to rise, so a little sin can rapidly infect our lives (or like a quick spread cancer disease) and take us away from Elohim’s path of righteous-living.
The Scripture teaches us to be overcomers (Rom 12:21; 1 John 2:13–14; 5:4) eradicating the leavening of sin from our lives. We must overcome the world, the flesh and the devil (Jas 3:15). Yeshua admonished each of the seven Messianic assemblies to be overcomers (Rev 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21; see also Matt 24:13). For those who overcome, there will be great rewards—a spiritual inheritance; they will be sons of Elohim (Rev 21:7).
The Greek word for overcome is nikao (Strong’s G3528) meaning “to conquer, to get the victory, prevail” and is where the word nike comes from.
What Is Sin?
Sin is the anything that violates the Torah-instructions/laws of Elohim (1 John 3:4).
Sin is unrighteousness (1 John 5:17; YHVH’s Torah commands define what righteousness is, Ps 119:172).
Sin is not believing in Yeshua, who is the Torah-Word of Elohim incarnate (John 3:18; 16:9).
Sin is failing to do (or not to do) that we which we should be do (or not do) — i.e., sin of ommission (Jas4:17).
Sin is putting me-first (my desires, impulses), not YHVH first (his will) in our lives. It is humanism. It is following the lie of the devil: man can have it his way regardless of what YHVH’s Word says, and not suffer any consequences for it. This is the big lie from the serpent in the Garden.
Sin is a direct challenge to YHVH’s authority in our lives. It is arrogance and self exaltation against YHVH’s will. It involves lack of belief in his Word. It is putting my will above his Word.
Defining the Types of Sin Spoken of in Isaiah 53
Asham (Strong’s H817/TWOT 180b): means “guilt, offense, guiltiness, sin, trespass, fault, trespass or sin offering.”
“[T]he root asham includes acts of sin, responsibility for them, punishment and its aftermath or, as an alternative, atonement. The word denotes any breach of God’s covenant with Israel and any divine act of dealing with it, whether punishment or atonement” (TWOT, p. 79).
Avown (Strong’s H5771/TWOT 1577a): means “perversity, depravity, iniquity, guilt or punishment for iniquity; the root of this word means to bend, twist, distort, to deviate from the way; perversity.”
“The remarkable ambivalence between the meanings of sin as an act and penalty shows that in the thought of the OT sin and its penalty are not radically separate notions as we tend to think of them. Rather in the OT the action of man and what happens to him are presupposed to be directly related as one process within the basic divine order.… The root chata displays same … basic concept; e.g. Num 32:23: ‘but if you fail to do this, you will have sinned (chata tem) against [YHVH], and you may be sure that your sin (chatta t’kem) will find you out.’ The second occurrence, the nominal form of the root, denotes the penalty for the act (cf. Num. 12:11). Thus sin had the inevitable effect of destroying the individual and/or community and must be rooted out” (TWOT, p. 651).
Avown is not a character trait of Elohim nor of his dealings with man (Exod 20:5; 6; 34:7), but is an overwhelming trait of man’s character and actions, including consequences of those actions. (Ibid.)
Chet (Strong’s H2399/TWOT 638a): means “sin, guilt for sin, punishment for sin; lit. to miss, to miss the mark or way, incur guilt, forfeit, purify from uncleanness.”
“Thus like other words related to the notion of sin it assumes an absolute standard or law. But, whereas pesha signifies “a revolt against the standard,” and awa means either “to deviate from the standard or to twist the standard,” while chata means “to miss, to fall short of the standard (Ibid.).”
Pasha (Strong’s H6586/TWOT 1846): means “to rebel, transgress, revolt” (pesha [Strong’s H6588] is a cognate meaning the same thing).
“The fundamental idea of the root is a breach of relationship, civil or religious, between two parties. In a context of international relationships, the verbal form designates a casting off of allegiance, a rebellion against rulers.… By analogy, but in a religious sense, Israel was accused of rebelling against her divine king and the established covenant between them (Isa 1:28; 48:8; Ezek 2:3; Hos 8:1). Obviously, God is never guilty of committing this act since there is no higher authority than himself; hence, this is a trait of human activity (Hos 14:9), and is sometimes set in contrast to the actions of faithful (Prov 28:21) and righteous (Ps 37:28) men” (Ibid. p. 741).
How Yeshua’s Atoning Death Paid for Our Sins
- Isaiah 53:5, He was wounded for our transgressions [pesha, H6588].
- Isaiah 53:5, He was bruised for our iniquities [avown, H5771].
- Isaiah 53:6, He has laid on him the iniquity [avown, H5771] of us all.
- Isaiah 53:8, He was cut off from the land of the living, for the transgression [pesha, H6588] of my people was he stricken.
- Isaiah 53:10, You shall make his soul an offering for sin [asham, H817].
- Isaiah 53:11, For he shall bear their iniquities [avown, H5771].
- Isaiah 53:12, He was numbered with the transgressors [pasha, H6586].
- Isaiah 53:12, He bore the sin [khate, 2399],
- Isaiah 53:12, And made intercession for the transgressors [pasha, H6586].
Practical Steps to Overcoming Sin
To be victorious over sin the saint must actively pursue two courses of action at the same time. He must “feed” or build up his spirit man and starve his sin nature. Here are some practical steps to empowering your spirit man, so you can effectively defeat sin.
Building Yourself Up Spiritually
Know the biblical definition of sin, so you know what sin is. Some things men think are sin are not sin and vice versa.
You must be born again or spiritually regenerated in your spirit man (John 3:5).
Call upon the Holy Spirit of Elohim for help and recognize his power in your life. Learn to walk in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit will convict us of sin (John 16:8, 13) and empower us to live a righteous or sin-free life in accordance with YHVH’s commandments.
Brainwash your mind with the Word of Elohim (Eph 5:26). This is how we transform our thinking from being conformed to the world, the flesh and the devil into the mind and character of Yeshua (Rom 12:2). Study the Scripture. Feed the spirit man inside of you. Hide YHVH’s Word in your heart. (Ps 119:11; Jas 1:21; Prov 6:20–22).
Know and use the power of prayer and spiritual warfare, so you can defeat the enemy as he endeavors to tempt you to sin (2 Cor 10:3–6; Eph 6:10–18; Luke 9:1; 10:19).
When tempted to sin, redirect your attention off the sin and onto prayer to YHVH. Know the Scriptures, so you can quote specific Bible verses to combat specific temptations as Yeshua did when confronting the devil in the wilderness (Matt 4:4–11).
Know the power of being with other overcoming believers on a regular basis who will reinforce good habits, and hold each other accountable, who will challenge you to keep overcoming and reaching for higher standards.
Make no provision for the flesh (Rom 13:14). Get away from corrupting influences including people.
Be accountable to trusted and mature spiritual authority.
Don’t replay old tapes of you or others sinning for your vicarious gratification (Prov 23:7).
Stay in constant communication with YHVH through prayer.
Get the Word of Elohim into your heart and mind by meditating or ruminating on YHVH’s Word (Pss 63:6; 119:15, 48, 78, 148).
Learn to love righteousness—the things of YHVH (Phil 4:8).
Learn the fear of YHVH, which is to hate evil (Prov 8:13). Ask YHVH to give you his fear.
Replace bad habits or sinful patterns with good habits or righteous patterns. Replace what not to do with what to do (Gal 5:16; Eph 4:22–24).
Recount your testimony to yourself and to others of past victories over sin (Rev 12:11). This not only strengthens you spiritually to be able to resist sin, but it helps keep you spiritually accountable to others.
Bring power of your will to bear on sin. Will not to sin, but to obey Elohim. “Let not” in Romans 6:12–13 directly relates to the volitional or choice-making capacity of the human soul. Furthermore, the will relates to the other points listed in this study in that it can impose the realities of them into the other areas of our soul (i.e. the mind/intellect and emotion) and into our body with its weakness and penchants toward sin. “Yielding your members” (Rom 6:13, 16, 19) is another expression relating to the will of man in this regard. Use your mind to establish scripturally-based spiritual boundaries for yourself, and then use our will to enforce those boundaries. Ask YHVH to give you a heart to love those boundaries, since they’re there for your own good.
How to Starving the Sin Nature in Us
Exercise self control; learn to control the impulses to sin. Elohim gave you a will, so use that will to determine not to sin. Set spiritual boundaries for yourself based on the Word of Elohim, and determine not to cross those boundaries.
Take every thought captive to the mind, spirit, Word of YHVH-Yeshua (2 Cor 10:5).
Flee temptation (2 Tim 2:22; Prov 4:14–15).
Make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof (Rom 13:14). Remove yourself from tempting situations and circumstances.
Do not love the things of this world (1 John 2:15).
Learn what sin is and then learn hate sin or evil. Ask YHVH to give you a heart to love the things he loves and to hate the things that he hates.
Remember what the consequences for sinning is. Sin leads to guilt, shame, misery and sorrow. Ultimately, the wages of sin eternal death (Rom 6:23; Ezek 18:4) in the lake of fire (Rev 20:14–15).
Power to Overcome Sin
An important aspect to overcoming sin is to have the right perspective. We must view ourselves from a biblical perspective — as YHVH Elohim views us through our relationship with Yeshua. Here are some truths to keep in mind in this regard:
Reckoning — To help in overcoming sin, we must reckon ourselves dead to sin, and alive to Yeshua as a new creation of his spirit. (Read Rom 6 and 8; 6:7,11; Eph 4:24.) This reality must be our mindset, our spiritual identity. That identity must permeate everything we do in life.
Identification — We must reprogram our minds to think of ourselves no longer as sinners, but as righteous saints. We must accept the fact that we are new creation in Yeshua, and accept our new identity by faith based on what the Word of Elohim says of us (Rom 6:2,11; Gal 2:20; 2 Cor 5:17). Sure, we will still sin from time to time (1 John 1:9), but sin is neither our habitual lifestyle nor what defines who we are spiritually. We’re overcomers who are predisposed to walking as saints, not as sinners. This is our true identity before YHVH and how he views us.
Love — An abiding and dynamic love for Elohim and his commands constrains us to not violate his law of love by sinning either against him or man. The overcomer must cultivate a desire to please Elohim (Rom 8:8) which involves hating sin and loving righteousness. We must learn to obey Elohim out of love, not fear (2 Tim 1:7; Rom 8:15).
Revelation — Obey Elohim and don’t yield to sin because we’re motivated by the revelation of the fact that our sin body is dead in Messiah and that we’re a new creation in Him (Gal 2:20; 2 Cor 5:17). We’re born of the Spirit and alive to righteousness and are no longer under the power of sin because Yeshua’s victory over sin and death, and because the life of Messiah is working in us through the Holy Spirit (Gal 2:20; 2 Cor 5:17; Rom 6:1–22).
Quickening — Our mortal (sin-bent) bodies are quickened (made alive) by the Holy Spirit dwelling in us—that is, by the direct power of Elohim’s Spirit in us motivates, energizes and strengthens us to overcome sin and to live righteously according to the Spirit, heart and will of Elohim (Rom 8:11, 26; Eph 2:1–5; Col 2:13). Another way to state this is that Elohim has given us his grace or divine enablement to overcome sin (Rom 6:14).
Hope of Eternal Rewards — The hope of eternal rewards as heirs of Elohim and joint-heirs with Messiah will motivate us not to sin. The more faithful and obedient to him we are the greater will be our reward in the kingdom of Elohim. This should be a strong motivation for us to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh (Rom 8:16–17, 20, 23–25). The hope or earnest expectation (Rom 8:19, 20, 24) of being joint-heirs with Messiah and the glorification of our bodies (Rom 8:17) gives us the impetus to overcome the present struggles of this life.
Be an Overcomer!
The Word of YHVH Elohim declares,
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; to him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of Elohim. (Rev 2:7)
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the assemblies; to him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. (Rev 2:17)
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Rev 3:21)