(Part 3) 2020 Holy Week Message:
Christ the Passover Lamb: The Motivation
for a Holy Life
By Pastor Robbie Casas
3. Cleanse Yourself of Sin (1Cor 5:6-7)
Read 1Cor 5:6-7: “6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? 7 Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.”
This impact on the church is the reason for Paul’s rebuke in v. 6: “Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?” The Corinthians were without excuse here. They knew “that
a little yeast” soon permeates “the whole lump of dough”, making the whole batch of dough rise when baked. We know how a small and seemingly benign sickness or lump can eventually kill a body.
The importance of and the necessity for church discipline is based on the same principle. We must not forget that WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO OTHER BELIEVERS. Unchecked flagrant sins bring confusion and even division to the church. Yes, as believers we should encourage, pray for, and build up one another, but we must also not tolerate sin that endangers the spiritual health of the church.
Therefore in v. 7a Paul commands them: “Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened.” Paul uses “leaven”here as a symbol for sin. “Old leaven” here is the old sinful ways that they were used to and did not see as wrong.
Paul here was commanding the Corinthians, first of all, to clean out the church by dealing with this unrepentant immoral man by removing him from the church. This instructs us also what to do with unrepentant members whose sins threaten the spiritual wellbeing of the church.
This cleansing, however, extends as a call to every individual believer to remain unleavened. BECAUSE CHRIST HAS DELIVERED US FROM THE SLAVERY OF SIN, WE SHOULD HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH PAST SINFUL WAYS (“old leaven”). This is a call to regular self-examination, confession and repentance – and even greater accountability when necessary.
“7… just as you are in fact unleavened.” This was a reminder to the Corinthian church that as a church of redeemed people, they were already “unleavened”– cleansed from sin’s penalty and power. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: “… the command is to get rid of such sin individually and in the church, for the believing community is an unleavened batch of dough, a new creation in Christ.” As C.K. Barrett observes, “The imperative [the command] rests upon an indicative [a fact].” In other words, what they must become is what they already are by the grace of God. The Corinthians’ identity should characterize their behavior. This phrase is a reminder that we are a new creation in Christ (2Cor 5:17)! WE ARE TO BECOME WHAT WE ALREADY ARE IN CHRIST! What an effective deterrent to sin this serves!
Paul then gives the motivation for the command to “clean out the old leaven” (which is also the reason for why the Corinthian church “are in fact unleavened”) in v. 7b: “For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.”
Here we see, first of all, the OT Passover lamb of Exodus 12 was a type of “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29) – Jesus Christ. JESUS, THE LAMB OF GOD, WAS SACRIFICED ON THE CROSS AND SHED HIS BLOOD TO WASH AWAY THE SINS OF THOSE WHO WOULD COME TO HIM IN REPENTANCE AND FAITH, AND COVER THEM FROM GOD'S JUDGEMENT OF ETERNAL DEATH.This applied to the believers in the Corinthian church and to every believer down through the ages, applying now to us in the present and to every other future believer. As the OT Israel as God’s chosen people were spared by God’s avenging angel because of the blood of the Passover lamb, so also we as God’s elect have been spared by God’s judgment, “pass[ing] from death into life”(Jn 5:24) because “Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.”
How should this truth now impact our daily lives as Christians? Whenever we are tempted to sin or to continue in sin, intentionally remembering “Christ our Passover” should help us to turn away from sin. Likewise, remembering “Christ our Passover” should motivate us to pursue holiness and to desire cleansing from sin.
1Cor 5:8 serves as a fitting conclusion to all this: “Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” To close, I cannot say it any better than the way the MacArthur Study Bible puts it: “In contrast to the OT Passover feast celebrated annually, believers constantly celebrate the ‘feast’ of the new Passover – Jesus Christ. As the Jews who celebrate Passover do so with unleavened bread, so believers celebrate their continual Passover with unleavened lives.” (Emphasis mine.)
As we once more celebrate the Holy Week, let us be profoundly grateful for Christ’s paying the penalty for our sins. At the same time, let our celebration continue to transform our lives as we live out the powerful implications of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary.