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.
–1 Corinthians 5:8
Church discipline is not about retribution; it is about restoration. The reason we engage in church discipline is, first of all, to restore the sinner’s relationship with God. Even if you have to turn someone out of the church, if the end result is repentance, then it is well worth the effort. James 5:19-20 says, “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
But there is a second purpose for discipline, and that is to maintain the purity of the church. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5:6, “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?” In the Bible, leaven represents sin. It takes only a pinch of leaven to cause a whole lump of dough to rise. In the same way, it takes only a little bit of sin to contaminate an entire congregation.
Paul illustrated this truth using the story of the Passover in Exodus 12. Pharaoh was holding the Israelites captive in Egypt, so God sent a series of plagues to convince Pharaoh to let His people go. The final plague would be the death of the firstborn in every household. But God told the Israelites, “If you will take the blood of an innocent lamb and place it on your doorposts, I will pass over you in judgment.” After Pharaoh’s firstborn was killed, he told the Israelites to get out of there. So they packed up and left for their new lives in the promised land. They left so quickly they did not have time to leaven the bread they were making–they had to leave the leaven behind in Egypt. And every year before celebrating the Passover meal, they were to go through the house and sweep out any trace of leaven. The leaven represented sin, the old way of life they left behind in Egypt.
Look at 1 Corinthians 5:7-8: “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. 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.” In other words, we who are Christians have been covered by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. Since we have experienced the true Passover, we should not tolerate any hint of our old way of life. We ought to do everything we can to rid our lives individually and corporately of sin so that it does not permeate the body of Christ.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Caring Enough to Confront” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.