enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matt. 7:21-23 KJV)
So, there is a difference a between the followers of Jesus Christ and the many organizations and nations that have called themselves "Christian" down through history. Many of the latter have been Christian in name only.
Before departing the earthly scene, Jesus gave his disciples instructions about the church that he would build through them. And together with those instructions and he also gave them serious warnings: "Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod." (Mark 8:15 KJV)
What is this leaven or yeast? The laws God gave to Israel required that they eat unleavened bread during the Passover period, and that they have no yeast in their homes during that time. So, the presence of leaven would be improper and defiling. Leaven in the Church would be something brought in inappropriately, that doesn't belong there. But what impurities did Jesus have in mind when he referred symbolically to the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod?
Jesus explained the first one himself: "Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." (Luke 12:1 KJV) Hypocrisy does not belong in the Church. And the Pharisees were hypocrites. In his sermon recorded in Matthew chapter 23, Jesus repeatedly called them that: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" (verses 13, 14, 15, 23, 25, 27 and 29 KJV) They were the religious leaders in Jerusalem, when he pronounced doom on the holy city: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold your house is left unto you desolate." (Matt. 23:37-38 KJV)
Yet, despite this strong warning, the Christian community, just like its Jewish predecessor, has found itself riddled with hypocrisy, the leaven of the Pharisees.
What, though, about the leaven of Herod? Unlike the leaven of the Pharisees, Jesus did not explain what he meant by this second type of impurity that the Church needed to guard against.
King Herod was extremely wealthy, and his wealth bought him great influence in the Jewish religious community. He financed the rebuilding of the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the Levitical priests serving at the temple accepted such material assistance as hush money to keep them from speaking out against their wealthy patron's sexual immorality, murderous brutality and other blatant violations of the laws of God. So, the leaven of Herod could refer to improper influence in the church by corrupt rich people who buy themselves a position of prominence and acceptance in the Christian community.
The Bible writer James wrote, "Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?" (James 2:6 NIV) He said that the church was not doing right when it gave a special seat of honor to a rich man while requiring of poor man to sit on the floor. "My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, 'Here's a good seat for you,' but say to the poor man, 'You stand there' or 'Sit on the floor by my feet,' have you not discriminated?" (James 2:1-4 NIV)
So the leaven of Herod could refer to undue influence by the rich in the church.
But, Herod was also a powerful political leader, allied with the Roman empire, who affected the Jewish congregation through his governmental influence. Besides the Pharisees, the party followers of Herod claimed the obedience of a large faction of the Jews. After the Messiah healed a man on the Sabbath, "the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus." (Mark 3:6) Later "the Pharisees and Herodians" conspired