Gracefully Truthful

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Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

1 Corinthians 5:6-8

6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little leaven leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new unleavened batch, as indeed you are. For Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed.

8 Therefore, let us observe the feast, not with old leaven or with the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

The Original Intent

1) What boasting is Paul referencing in verse 6?

When we read Scripture, it’s extremely important we first read for context. What does the whole passage say? What is the main point? If we fail to do this, we will quite likely run away with a poor understanding of Scripture, of God, and even ourselves. Then we try to apply this mis-alignment to our lives and end up with a mess!

The church in Corinth, who first received Paul’s letters we’ve cleverly dubbed “1 & 2 Corinthians” had major issues. They had serious conflict, bad beliefs, and were known for blatant sins that ran counter to Christ and His gospel of love and unity. Yet, they still felt justified in boasting about how great they were doing.

Paul’s admonishment was meant to sternly call them out for their lack of love and inconsistency in holding to truth and what it really meant to follow Jesus as His Church.

In this specific instance, a man was committing a gross sexual sin by sleeping with his father’s wife, an action not even condoned by Corinthian culture outside the Church. Yet, inside the church, they boasted on how loving they were by not calling this man out for his blatant hypocrisy and sin as he claimed to follow Jesus and love people. (1 Corinthians 5:1-2) They felt they were doing the right thing by ignoring this man’s sin.

It’s also very important to note that Paul makes a distinction in verses 9-13; he did not intend believers in the church to cast judgement on people who were not Christ-followers. “I did not mean the immoral people of this world (…); otherwise you would have to leave the world!” 

Christians are not meant to judge those outside the church, only God can do that! “For what business is it of mine to judge outsiders? (…) God judges outsiders.” (verses 12-13)

The Everyday Application

1) What boasting is Paul referencing in verse 6?

It’s so easy to justify ourselves, isn’t it? Or maybe it’s just me who is always running ahead with ready defenses for every action, thought, or word. I’d much rather point to the shiny, pretty things I’ve done and completely ignore those sinful patterns I keep right on living with.

Shockingly, I was given another opportunity to confront my sin just a few days ago as my husband expressed his frustration with how I consistently interacted with him. Regardless of the suggestion, dream, or feeling he shared with me, I was oh so quick to shut him down with my own counter opinion or critique.

As he talked with me about his frustration, the Lord opened my eyes and I realized my husband was right. I was stuck in a pattern of criticism and harshness, but I had justified my attitude and sharp words toward him as me being allowed to have my own voice. Expressing myself was never the issue, my willingness to listen and encourage him was where I was deeply lacking.

I’m sure Paul’s sharp words were hard for the Corinthians to hear; facing our sin is generally painful. As difficult as it was, I am so grateful for my husband’s willingness to point out my sinful pattern and for the Spirit enabling me to recognize how I wasn’t loving my husband despite my lengthy list of justifications.

Where is the Lord pointing out your sin patterns? Resist the urge to boast in your justification and surrender to His conviction! Maybe you see sin habits in a brother or sister who loves Jesus. Make the loving choice and confront them, calling them to recognize their sin and turn away from it! Our churches desperately need believers to hold each other accountable to following Jesus and loving others! 

The Original Intent

2) Why does Paul care about cleaning out leaven (yeast) and new batches of dough? (verse 7)

We don’t use the word “leaven” much in today’s world, but it refers to yeast one would use in baking. Why does Paul care about yeast? Well, he actually didn’t; he knew his audience understood “yeast” to be a symbol for “sin”.

In the Old Testament, God had commanded His people to rid their houses of yeast as they prepared for Passover, a special festival commemorating God’s rescue of Israel from slavery to the Egyptians. (Exodus 12:14-20) When Paul states, “Don’t you know that a little leaven leavens the whole batch of dough?” (verse 6), he wasn’t trying to mock them for their lack of scientific understanding. Rather, he was illustrating the extreme potency of sin and its deadly affects.

If Christ’s Church was like a batch of dough, even a small bit of sin (yeast) would quickly spread throughout the dough. Because the Corinthian church understood yeast to be a metaphor for sin, Paul’s point was abundantly clear, they could not just “ignore” sin within their local church body for eventually, the entire church would be consumed with sin.

No one would hold them accountable for their sin because everyone would just “accept” a lower standard and justify each other’s sinfulness. Paul instructed the Corinthians to “clean out the old leaven” by confronting sin within their churches.

He reminds them they are indeed a “new, unleavened batch” (verse 7) because Christ has died for them, declaring them righteous! Jesus paid for their sin, so they should respond by fleeing from it and following Christ in living holy lives that honor Him together as a whole church.

Out of great love for one another and gratefulness to Jesus, they should encourage each other to reject sin’s allure and run instead toward the life of fullness offered in Christ.

The Everyday Application

2) Why does Paul care about cleaning out leaven (yeast) and new batches of dough? (verse 7)

How often do you think about “getting rid of” the sin in your life? Probably not often! If we look at our sin patterns, we can feel overwhelmed and weighed down with impossibility of breaking comfortable habits. We choose to sin because it’s easy and we enjoy it, but we like it because we have forgotten the far greater delight of following the ways of the Lord. 

Psalm 119 is FULL of declarations on how joy-full (Psalm 119:14-16), wise (Psalm 119:23-24), life-giving (Psalm 119:25), freeing (Psalm 119:45), and even delicious (Psalm 119:103) the commands of the Lord are to His people who follow them. Proverbs says the path of those who reject wisdom leads to death. (Proverbs 2:19)

Paul knew, and had experienced in his own life, that Jesus was always the Better, which is why, when writing to confront the Corinthians of their sin, he turned their focus onto the Sacrificial Lamb. (verse 7)

Only when we keep Christ, His love, and His sacrifice that we could never repay in focus, do we become repulsed by our sin instead of drawn toward it. When you think of “getting rid of sin” in your life, begin in prayer and ask the Lord to show you His glory, goodness, and righteousness.

As we gaze on Him, His Spirit will stir within us a far greater love for God than for our sin. Only in Jesus do we have victory to break the deadly pattern of sin in our everyday lives! (Romans 7:24-25)

The Original Intent

3) What feast are we to be observing? (verse 8)

Imagine the churches of Corinth gathering together in the homes where they regularly met for worship and preaching to listen to Paul’s letter. Jews, Gentiles, men, women, and children all came together under the freedom Christ had come to give them. This was the New Testament church!

They had complex lives with countless temptations to sin, worship idols, and pressure to achieve more just like us today. The Jews present, who were probably fewer than the Gentiles, were as familiar with Torah (Old Testament) Law as the back of their hand.

Though the Gentiles hadn’t grown up with God’s Law, they were still familiar with Jewish practices, sacrifices, and feasts because they played such a prevalent cultural role. When Paul wrote, “Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us observe the feast…” (verses 7-8), everyone listening immediately understood the connection between Christ and the Passover lamb.

Christ was the One crucified on a Roman cross and resurrected from the grave three days later. The Passover lamb was the animal slain every year by every Jewish family during the Passover feast which commemorated God’s rescue of Israel from slavery in Egypt. Paul was tying these two together as the same symbol. Christ had become the Passover Lamb.

Once Paul made this clear, he urged the churches to go out and live everyday lives in light of this incredible sacrifice. “Therefore, let us observe the feast…” The audience recognized the feast as Passover, but Paul wanted them to go deeper and understand that feasting was now meant to encompass the whole of the Christian life. Believers were now to feast on Christ as the Bread of Life (John 6:35) who has no sin in Him and calls those who trust Him to also leave behind all sin (yeast).

The Everyday Application

3) What feast are we to be observing? (verse 8)

We don’t have the same contextual benefit the first New Testament churches had when they read Paul’s letters. Most of us don’t celebrate all the Jewish festivals, and we have no concept of an annual Passover Lamb, let alone daily sin offerings through animal sacrifice.

While the first century church had real life visuals for these concepts, 21st century believers need to work a little harder to understand the original culture and context. Nevertheless, Paul’s connection of Christ as the Passover Lamb and his urgent call for the early church to reject sin’s pull and move forward into living as God’s holy people is a message for us today!

Sin isn’t a plaything, something to be ignored, or passed over as insignificant. Our sin is what cost the Savior His life.

If it wasn’t for our sin, there would be no need for Jesus to sacrifice Himself on our behalf, but because He did, we are free to reject sin and love God and others around us!

Consider your role in your local church body as you think about what if you had been one of the first believers in ancient Corinth. Would you hear Paul’s Spirit-led words and become an advocate for addressing sin in yourself, your family, and your church body? Would you hunger for the sinless “bread” of Christ, desiring to daily feast on Him through studying His Word and developing a deeper relationship with Him?

It’s one thing to claim you’re a Christian, it’s quite another to take your relationship serious enough to leave your sin behind and feast on the holy life God has called us to enjoy together!

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Mandy Farmer
Mandy Farmer
3 years ago

Excellent study, Rebecca!

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