Leaven

Exodus 12:15 “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. “

1 Corinthians 5:1-8 “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.  And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. . . Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.  Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

Easter is such a joyous holiday.  As Christians we point to the resurrection of Jesus at this wonderful time each spring with all its signs of rebirth and renewal.  We rejoice that Jesus gave His life to pay the penalty for OUR sins.  Jesus is truly our Passover Lamb. He is the reality of the Old Testament Passover Feast.  It was because an innocent and perfect lamb was slaughtered and its blood put on the sides and top of the door frame that the death angel passed over the homes of the Israelites on that last and most terrible plague in Egypt after which God set His people free.  Israel’s slavery in Egypt is a type of our own slavery to sin, and the Passover Lamb, a type of the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.  But there’s more. 

It’s interesting to realize that the Passover Feast was just the first day of a seven-day period called the Feast of Unleavened Bread. During this seven-day period, all Israelites were to thoroughly search their homes and get rid of anything with leaven in it.  Every crumb was to be removed.  And nothing with leaven could be eaten during this period.  To do so was a serious offense punishable by being completely cut off from the nation of Israel.  So, what does this point to? What, if any, significance is there to us today? 

We find our answer in 1 Corinthians 5. Here Paul likens leaven to sin. Like leaven, sin that is left unaddressed in a life or in a church will grow, eventually infiltrating and affecting every part of that thing.  Whereas the believer rejoices in the deliverance from sin that is made possible by the death of the Lamb of God, to then allow sin – even a little bit – to be a part of our life is to coddle the very thing that put Christ on the cross.   In the Corinthian church, this was just the case. There were those in the church who were living in sexual immorality – and they were proud of it.  Sounds awfully like some of the churches, indeed, like some entire denominations, that we read about today.  It’s an affront to Christ and His sacrifice for us.  It’s an embrace of the wickedness that nailed Jesus to the cross.  Like leaven during the Feast of Unleavened Bread that followed the Passover, its inconsistent for a Christian to celebrate Easter one day but then live in sin on the very next day.  Like the Jews who swept the house to get rid of every bit of leaven, the believer should be fastidious in getting rid of any hint of sin in his or her own life.  And truth be told, we don’t have to look very hard to find it. 

A believer should not be satisfied to have a little bit of pornography, or a little bit of sexual sin, or a little bit of any other sin residing in his or her life.  No malice, no lying, no envy, no greed – we shouldn’t be satisfied to have any bit of it in our lives.  The Feast of Unleavened Bread was for seven days. Throughout Scripture, seven is a symbol for completeness.  Thus, this feast points to all parts of our life and all parts of our churches all the time in every way.  And if we want cleansed, where do we go?

Again, it’s to the Lamb of God Who not only died to free us from our sin, but daily is present to cleanse us.  “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,  that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,  so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:25-27).” 

So, is there sin in your life, something hidden away in some dark corner?  Is there leaven laying around while you should be living a life where the leaven has been removed?  May God help us to not only rejoice in His sacrifice for our sin, but to be diligent in dealing with every bit of sin that dirties our feet as we walk through a world so full of it.  May Christ help us by shining the penetrating light of His Holy Word on every dark corner of our lives and may we not be satisfied until we are rid of those things that Jesus died for.

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