Archive for the ‘Corinthians’ Category

Church, Purge the Leaven and Live for Heaven!

February 17, 2007

Previous to writing his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul received word of their acceptance of immorality in the assembly. A certain man was involved in a sexually immoral relationship with his father’s wife (most likely his step-mother). Such corruption had not even been found among the pagan Gentiles (1Cor 5:1).

The problem was not merely this man’s sin (wicked as it was), but even more, the church’s acceptation of this man’s immorality. Instead of mourning over the situation so that he would be removed from the assembly (5:2), they were arrogantly ignoring it; letting it continue, even boasting about it (5:6). Presuming upon the freedom God had granted them in Christ, they were living lives of disobedience; lives which displayed no freedom at all, but bondage to sin.

Paul, however, would not tolerate such behavior in the church (5:3), and so instructs them on what they are to do. When they are assembled as a body in the name of the Lord Jesus (cf. Matt 18:16-20), they are to deliver this man over to Satan “for the destruction of his flesh.” In other words, expel him from the church, and hand him over to the results of his lusts. This, of course is in hopes that his spirit may be saved. Paul’s instruction, therefore, was for the purity of the church, and the saving of the man’s soul (which may very well have been the result from the instruction given in 2 Corinthians 2:5-11).

After the phrase, “do you not know”—which is used to call their attention to things they already know, but fail to apply—Paul then begins to set up an analogy of leaven and bread (1Cor 5:6). He orders them to clean out the old leaven. Immoral behavior is destructive to the church, so they are to remove it soon before it causes more damage. Rather than living as an old lump, they are to live as a new lump, that is, as one that is unleavened (5:7a).

Explaining the analogy, Paul then writes, “for even Christ our Passover has been sacrificed” (5:7b). Drawing implications from the Old Testament (esp. Ex 12:14-17; Lev 23:4-8), Paul expects his readers to understand:  1) The lamb was sacrificed on the day of Passover. During the seven days following the Passover, the people were to celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread; and thus had to purge (i.e. clean out) their homes of any leaven. 2) In the same manner Israel was commanded to purge the leaven from their homes and celebrate God’s mighty deliverance from Egypt after the slain Passover lamb, so the Corinthians were to purge the leaven (i.e. the immorality) from their midst for Christ had been sacrificed. That is, Jesus died to deliver them from sin, not dwell in it. Therefore, 3) since Christ had been sacrificed, they were to stop living as if He hadn’t been.

Therefore, because of Christ, Paul calls the Corinthians to join together with him in the celebration of the feast, that is, the celebration that keeps on going. Another way to put it would be to live in the reality of Romans 6:2, 10-11: “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?…For the death that he [Christ] died, he died to sin once for all; but the life that he lives, he lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Because of the work of Christ, we are to celebrate with sincerity and truth the freedom from sin, NOT the freedom to sin (1Cor 5:8).

As the church, we must learn from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians that sin (any sin) is not to be taken lightly in our midst. If, as the assembly of God, our actions are to testify of whether or not Jesus’ blood has actually set us free from sin, then how can we be so blasé about the presence of bondage to sin. We cannot walk in a manner that nullifies the good news of redemption we proclaim. The Corinthians ignored the sin in the lives of their members, and I am guilty of doing the same. We should not; lest we become leavened. Pray for the universal church brothers and sisters, and pray for your local body. Be a people who are united in Christ, who pursue holiness, who are always purging evil from our midst, and who live for Christ because of Christ. Christ died so that we no longer have to live in bondage to sin, but can join in the celebration of heaven, freedom from sin.