Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened.
1 Corinthians 5:6-7
I shared a post from John Lewis of Not For Punks yesterday that discussed the Kingdom of Heaven being like a bit of leaven. God’s work in this world starts out little, small in size looking tiny, like a grain of yeast. Due to His work though it will eventually spread and grow out to everything it is in contact with and effect the whole loaf. If you have seen a lumpy loaf of bread rise you can understand the picture. Blowing up a raft is a similar process as it starts to rise after initially appearing to do very little and all of a sudden it is completely filled with air.
Isn’t it interesting to see that the Bible also compares sin with leaven as well? Sin is similar to the Kingdom of Heaven in the fact that no matter how small it is, if it is allowed to remain in us and in the church, it will grow and spread out fermenting and growing into everything it comes into contact with.
In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul is addressing the church in Corinth specifically about the sexual sin of one its members. A man is evidently carrying on a sexual affair with either his mother in law (ew!) or his mother (double ew!) depending upon how you read the word used to describe the woman.
Everyone inside and outside of the church knows about the problem and they are doing nothing about it.
This is not regular old fleshly struggles of the type that people deal with on an every day basis. This is just full out unrepentant sin. Someone knowing their conduct is wrong, that it violates God’s Word and they just don’t care. They are not fighting sin, they are just purposefully choosing sin.
Even worse, rather than being saddened by the clearly sinful actions of their brother in Christ, the Corinthian church is patting themselves on the back. They are proud that they are keeping the brother with them and thinking they are sophisticated or loving or tolerant for accepting this fellow.
While the conduct itself is bad, it is actually the attitude of the church in response that has Paul so upset in the chapter and in the Book.
Why? Because sin is never satisfied to stay with one person in one area of their life. You can never, ever accept sin and not be affected by it. You cannot keep sin in a box – it is like leaven. As long as sin is kept around it will always grow and spread and effect everything it touches.
In the church, the sin effects the one committing the sin and every person around him or her. Whether it be from people excusing conduct, refusing to repent, or changing doctrine to fit the sin changed culture of their church, the Body of Christ is always effected by the sin of one of its members. Sickness in a Body spreads.
In the world, the sin effects every person who sees the one committing the sin and those around them. The world sees the one unrepentant sinner who calls himself a christian who attends X Church and believes that this is what everyone at X Church does. It makes sense, even if it is not true. Even worse, they think this is what Christianity believes and teaches and hold it against the greater church.
Where the church is supposed to be a complete contrast, a place where people can flee to from what sin is doing to them, it winds up looking as confused as the world.
Leaven is not exactly yeast. It is more like sourdough bread starter where portions of one batch of sourdough bread batter are kept to start the next batch. Some sourdough starter has been in use for hundreds of years. It is hardy, persistent and will do its job no matter how little remains in the starter. Remove it or your bread will be effected.
What is the antidote? How do we avoid the leaven taking hold and effecting the rest of the loaf?
If it is us who is harboring sin, simple – repent and submit to the Lord. He is faithful and just to forgive is and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we are the church:
Paul answers simply in verse 7.
Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened.
13 God judges[c] those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
God will work it out with the person God to man, one on one. While He is doing that our responsibility is to protect the church.
You know what the interesting thing is also about the directions in Corinthians. They are to the people who make up the church not just the pastor or elder or deacons. Each one of us is on notice. Every believer, if they want a healthy Body is charged with getting rid of the sin.
It is on each of us which leaven we want working in our loaf. Will it be the Kingdom of God or just sin?