What Do You Do With The Leaven Among You? {1 Corinthians 5}

12:30 AM

We’ve come to a very difficult subject and chapter! But that’s the beauty of this study, for there’s no getting around it; we must face it head-on and deal with this today! What do we do with those who are in sin and unwilling to repent?

I take comfort in knowing that the young church was dealing with this issue almost from the time of it’s conception, for clearly this chapter is still very relevant today! My husband and I work in the counseling  room at our church once a month and we see more and more couples, who are opening living together and not married yet, coming to join the church these days. What are we supposed to do about that? What would you do? What do we do with believers who choose to live contrary to the Scriptures set before us?

First, it’s imperative to note that Paul is talking about a believer, for many today seem to be confused and tend to treat believers and nonbelievers alike, and that’s clearly not the case, for how would we ever be able to bring a person to Jesus if we treated them as someone who already knows the truth and chooses to rebel against it?

Secondly, it’s also important to note that in this chapter, sin is running rampant throughout the whole body and not just in this one individual. Notice, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this?” 5:1-2 (emphasis mine)

Pride shows up many different ways; criticism, competition, stubbornness and boasting among others.The trouble with pride is it’s self-deceiving. Usually everyone else can see it in us but us. Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride leads to destruction; a proud attitude brings ruin”. Pride destroys relationships, but humility builds them up! 1 Peter 3:8, “Live in harmony, be sympathetic, love each other, have compassion, and be humble”.

Can you see why Paul needs to deal with not just this man’s sin, but the whole body’s?
How are they going to do away with the pride and grow in humility?

It happens by letting Jesus Christ begin to control our thoughts, hearts, attitudes and actions. He’s got to be a part of this. Ephesians 4:23-24 says, “Let the Spirit change your way of thinking and make you into a new person”. The basic law of relationships is this: We tend to become like the people we spend the most time with. Those who are sanctified and holy, will genuinely lead us to become holier, and those who are habitually walking in sin, can cause us to let down our guard and lean towards sinful ways. Notice what Paul is saying in 5:6-8, “Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?  Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.  Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Matthew Henry explains what Paul is saying this way: “The Jews, after they had killed the passover, kept the feast of unleavened bread. So must we; not for seven days only, but all our days. We should die with our Saviour to sin, be planted into the likeness of his death by mortifying sin, and into the likeness of his resurrection by rising again to newness of life, and that internal and external. We must have new hearts and new lives. Note, The whole life of a Christian must be a feast of unleavened bread.”

If we want to have more humility, we need to spend time with Jesus Christ. When we spend time with Him in prayer and reading His Word and talking to him we will become more like Him. He is the epitome of humility, and as we get to know him better, we will grow in humility rather than pride. Simple as that, and hopefully we’ll become a positive influence on others.

“Be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves …. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to”.

This MUST happen first, and then we will be ready to deal with the leaven, or sin among us. 1 Corinthians 5:13 seems rather harsh, “Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” Cast him out of your fellowship, and avoid his conversation.”

Again let me enlist the help of Matthew Henry, “But, as to members of the church, they are within, are professedly bound by the laws and rules of Christianity, and not only liable to the judgment of God, but to the censures of those who are set over them, and the fellow-members of the same body, when they transgress those rules. Every Christian is bound to judge them unfit for communion and familiar converse. They are to be punished, by having this mark of disgrace put upon them, that they may be shamed, and, if possible, reclaimed thereby: and the more because the sins of such much more dishonour God than the sins of the openly wicked and profane can do.”

It seems harsh, but it is done in the hopes that this individual will repent and come back to walk uprightly with God once more. To continue to remain silent and thereby condoning his actions would never bring about change and could lead others and even yourself to follow their ways.

We should correct a brother or sister when you see a pattern of sin that calls his or her salvation into question. If we love our brothers and sister then we will carefully point out their sins. Remaining silent in the face of ongoing rebellion against God will not bring change. If we truly love God and others, we should want to do all we can to right their relationships with God and others. Our love for God and His people should make us zealous to speak out, to be in accountability groups where private sins can be addressed, and to build relationships where we move beyond superficial relationships and move to more deep and intimate levels were we can work to build others up and move them further along on our journey with our Savior and Lord.

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