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.

1 Corinthians 5: 7

 

There is a real sense of urgency in these words. The sacrifice of the lamb has already taken place, and the blood of atonement is poured out. Yet, there is still an element, a trace, of the old sinful self present in the lives of the faithful followers of Christ. This is generally a situation that we all face at times and from time to time as well. We know Christ; yet, there is still sin present in us. We have given our lives to Him, but we are holding onto some aspects of our old self with a tenacity that almost seems to defy God’s ability to pour out grace upon us. As it was in Corinth, these elements of sinfulness in us and so in the fellowship of faith cause trouble and bring about dissention as they shatter our unity.

 

In Christ, we have the way and the means to clean out all that is corrupt, unloving, and broken in our lives. The cleansing property of His blood is far greater than any of the sins or sinfulness that we may be clinging onto, and Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection have also permanently defeated the hold that death had upon us. Christ has granted to us the final assurance that death’s terrible angel will pass us by, for although we all die in the body, in Christ all are eternally alive in the spirit. So, as we have come to know Christ as Savior and Lord, we are made new, and the old self with all of its weakness and unrighteousness is done away with in the eyes of God. It is not any lack of interest or capacity on the part of God that causes us to continue living in various states of rebellion from God, it is our own stubborn and fearful hearts and minds that grasp onto this leavening in our lives.

 

The journey into Christ’s righteousness is not a simple one. It takes commitment, happens over time, and is impossible to accomplish in our own strength and power. Additionally, it is not a solo adventure, for like all aspects of the Christian life, seeking after righteousness is something that is best done in the company of like-minded travelers. Yes, removing the leaven, the sinfulness, from our own lives and out of the body of faith is an urgent need, and we all are caught up in this important endeavor. Yet, Christ has gone before us, and His sacrifice on the cross gives us the power and the capacity to be victorious over all of the aspects of our old selves that are attempting to hold us down in our witness and to defeat our ability to live in the full expression of freedom that is ours as citizens of God’s Kingdom come to earth. Again, living righteously is not simple to do and it is not easy to accomplish, but the Spirit will guide us into knowing our sinfulness, surrender to Christ is effective in gaining His power and resources for change, prayer and meditation will lead us deeper into the Lord’s will, and the fellowship of other believers can be the support that we need to stay the course to its glorious end.

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.

1 Corinthians 5: 7, 8

 

Passover began last night. Although most Christian traditions do not celebrate it, this most sacred of Jewish festivals is important to us. It is the setting for the events that took place in Jerusalem during the last week before Jesus was tried and crucified. The symbolism of God’s deliverance of His people from captivity is powerfully present in Passover, and the broken bread and the cup of wine that Jesus gave to us as a means for remembering His own act of permanent deliverance from the death of sin come out of this celebration. Our season of Easter should be a time of joy and of delight. However, it should also cause us to reflect on Christ and on our own lives in relationship to His love for us. These days of Holy Week, as we look forward to the Friday of the cross, are a good time to do the sort of cleansing that the preparation for Passover requires.

 

We can thoroughly clean our house and search for the leaven that is contaminating our hearts. The Holy Spirit will show us where it is hiding. As we open ourselves to His revealing light, those small grains of legalism, anger, fear, doubt, and control will be shown as if they were the size of giant boulders. These are the seeds that are planted deep inside of our hearts and our minds that, if left in place, will grow and swell until they break us apart and fracture our relationships. This leaven is the fertile ground where distrust and division are nurtured. It is activated by the warm water of human pride, arrogance, and stubborn reliance on our own understanding. It can also be elusive.

 

However, Christ has granted us freedom and release from its bondage. We do not need to be held captive by things out of our past. The thorough broom of God’s Word as empowered by Christ’s Spirit will help us do the cleansing. This time of preparation for Easter is an excellent time to lighten our load and to clear away the relational debris that has accumulated during our imperfect journey through life. Christ’s blood has truly cleansed His people of all of our sin. That does not mean that we are perfect, but it does certify us as holy. We should be living as the ones who are set free so that we can demonstrate Christ to our world and lead others into His righteousness. Let us prepare our hearts for the celebration!