A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough
1 Corinthians 5 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. 2You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.
3 For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
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. 8 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.
9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.
Today’s text says: Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? … I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves. There is a difference between showing grace among believers; seeking to restore any who have slipped into sin or fallen away, which we should do, and tolerating and embracing their sin, which we should not do. In Matthew 7:1-5 Jesus says: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” What is often missed or overlooked in what Jesus says, is that we are supposed to help to remove the speck from our brother’s eye. We are to help others see clearly, just not through eyes of judgment, but rather through clear eyes of grace. Galatians 6:1 says: Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Still Paul says: I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves. For the one who rejects the restoration of grace and chooses to continue in their sin, those in the church must not tolerate or embrace immorality. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus Himself says: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
1 Peter 4:12-19 says: Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of thegodless man and the sinner? Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right. Surely, we are seeing a time when the world and believers with it are going through a fiery ordeal. We live in a fallen world; a world ravaged by the consequences of sin. Believers may suffer at the hands of the world, but we should not suffer as partakers of the sins of the world. Judgment may indeed begin with the household of God, but it is not to cast believers away it is to purify us and prepare us to be the spotless bride of Christ. James 1:2-4 says: Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Returning to what Paul said in the beginning of today’s text: Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? As believers we need to recognize that to the extent that we tolerate and embrace sin, particularly sin within the church, we affect and infect ourselves with the consequences of that sin. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God says: If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Along with judgment, it is time for repentance to begin with the household of God. If our land, if this world is to be healed and restored, it is the people of God who need to humble ourselves and pray and seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, may I not seek to judge the sins of the world, but also may I not be judged for embracing the sins of the world. May I not be a partaker in the darkness of the world, but rather by Your grace and through repentance, may I be a light. If I suffer in these times may it be for Your name. Heal our land Lord and begin with me. Amen.