Thursday

Therefore, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (v. 8)

1 Corinthians 5:1-8 Thursday 12 March 2020

Psalm: Psalm 13

Background

It may be helpful to change the order of these eight verses, by exploring the principles that Paul encourages, before looking at the particular case of “sexual immorality” (v. 1).

Verses 6 to 8 probably get to the heart of the problem, at least for Paul. It is not just the particular case that bothers him, but rather the attitude towards a much looser moral code. Throughout these verses we read of Paul’s acknowledgement that the Corinthian church is demonstrating tolerance and complacency, even arrogance, in the area of moral standards. “Your boasting is not a good thing.” (v. 6) Discipline is needed, not self-congratulation.

Paul uses yeast (leaven) as an example of evil, as in other parts of the Bible, and it certainly fits his “boasting” comment and a people swelling with self-pride. Paul urges the church to get back to Christian foundations by “cleaning out the old yeast so that you may have a new batch, as you are really unleavened” (v. 7). With Christ, every day is a feast day, so celebrate each day “with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (v. 8).

So, returning to the particular case of immorality in verses 1 and 2, a man has presumably married his stepmother after his father has died. This was against both Roman and Jewish law. The man has continued to be within the church, seemingly with the church’s agreement and causes Paul to write “and you are arrogant". Paul says that they should have removed the man from their church. Moreover, in verses 3 to 5, Paul tells them how to deal with him, noting perhaps that the judgement Paul makes (cf 1 Corinthians 4:3-4) is “with the power of our Lord Jesus”.

This section raises many questions about the extent to which a church fellowship should hold one another in love when someone goes astray. How welcome should we be as a church to all people, notably sinners? Can we consistently call on “the power of our Lord Jesus” when we make decisions in church concerning other brothers and sisters? Do we see discipline in the church as an extension of discipleship, following our Lord’s way of love?

Personally, we can perhaps do no better than to celebrate today “with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”.

 

To Ponder:

  • A popular hymn is Singing The Faith 409: “All are welcome in this place.”
    You might like to have this hymn open before you as you study again today’s reading.
  • Is there ever a conflict between (a) local church discipline and (b) being a disciple following a Christian “Way of Life”? If so, how might this be resolved? To whom do we turn for authority?
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