1 Corinthians 5:6


Monday, 9 June 2014

Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 1 Corinthians 5:6

The words “your glorying” indicates boasting. It refers back to the words he used in 1 Corinthians 4:19 –

“But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power.”

As noted then, this was a metaphor of bread being puffed up from the use of yeast. Throughout the Bible this is seen as a picture of sin, and specifically in this case, pride. The symbolism permeates the pages of Scripture and it all points to sin in our lives. In contrast is Jesus who knew no sin and thus He is pictured by unleavened bread, such as that used at the Passover. The boasting of the Corinthians was, in picture and in reality, un-Christlike. Paul says that it “is not good.”

In order for them to understand, he reverts back to that Old Testament symbolism and shows them exactly what he means by saying, “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” That is all it takes, just a little pinch of yeast will permeate the entire lump of dough. It, like sin in a person, will affect everything around it. In other words, the sin in the man whom Paul recommended to be expelled, if not expelled, will affect the whole congregation.

Jesus explained this to His own apostles during His ministry, trying to get them to realize that adding to the word of God with man-instituted traditions could only infect the purity of the word of God in our lives. In Matthew 16:6, He said this to them –

“Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”

And in his consistent way of writing, Paul will use the same terminology when speaking to the Galatians about their attempts to reintroduce the law into their church-age theology (such as the rite of circumcision). Such actions merely set aside the grace of Christ that they had received and made them debtors to the whole law. Here are his words from Galatians 5:9 – “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”

To see how potent the true effects of yeast are, we can look at the process of making San Francisco sourdough bread. It is the most famous sourdough bread made in the U.S. today; probably in the whole world. Unlike sourdough which is made in other areas of the country, what San Francisco produces has remained in continuous production for nearly 150 years. Some bakeries, for example the Boudin Bakery, are able to trace their starters back to California’s territorial period.

A starter is a piece of the bread dough which is cut off and left out of the baking process. The next day, when they make the new batch of dough, they throw in the piece from the previous day – the starter. This piece of dough contains the yeast for the entire batch of new dough. In the case of Boudin Bakery, they have used the same initial yeast, without any addition, for over 150 years, day by day. Cut off a piece, save it for tomorrow. Cut off a piece, save it for tomorrow. Cut off a piece… this one’s for tomorrow.

One pinch of yeast, from over 150 years ago, still affects dough in the exact same way. Now think of this in the context of the church. Bad doctrine, introduced by the heretic Joseph Smith (Mormonism) has affected the entire group known as the Mormons to such an extent that they cannot be called “Christians” in any true sense. Likewise, the yeast of “tradition” has crept into almost every major denomination in Christianity. The very thing that Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for permeates almost the entire spectrum of the faith in varying degrees. Such is the nature of just a little bit of yeast.

Life application: Our doctrine is to be based on the word of God. Anything which is practiced in a church which doesn’t adhere to the word of God is to be rejected. Paul’s warning to the Corinthians is a principle which must be held onto even now.

Lord, You are so good to me. I praise You for Your faithfulness, even when I fail. Thank You for Your kind hand of mercy upon me. I love You, I praise You, I cherish Your presence in my life. Amen.


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