- Sermon Notes
A Little Lump of Leaven
1 Corinthians 5:1-13
I realize that’s a bit of an unusual title. Usually these messages have lots of meat and vegetables, but this message has a lot of carbs. I’m sure a few
people are wondering if a gluten-free message will be available, but unfortunately the best I could do is take out the leaven… I’m sorry, I know
my humor is half-baked.
In the last few verses of chapter 4 you get a very strong sense that Paul is correcting the church. He is their spiritual father and feels a responsibility
to them as his spiritual children to keep them healthy, to keep them growing spiritually.
They’re young in their faith, they’re babes in Christ, so he wants to strengthen their faith and build them up so they keep growing, but their immaturity
has already caused them to get off course, so Paul corrects them to get them back on track.
The wonderful thing about this is that they listen. We know that from reading 2 Corinthians. Having a teachable and humble heart is a significant part
of growing in faith.
Paul has been addressing all the division and strife and jealousy in the church. They had like mini denominations going as they formed little groups aligning
themselves with either Paul, or Apollos, or Peter, or Christ Himself. Imagine having that many little mini denominations in just a house church.
But now Paul addresses another major concern he had for them. “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not even exist among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife,” Paul wrote.
It was bad enough that someone in the church had such a depth of immorality, but the problem was made worse because they were actually puffed up, or arrogant,
or prideful about the fact that they could tolerate such things.
In other words, they thought that this was a demonstration of the greatness of their love. But Paul writes to show them that this is a great sin, but sin
is like cancer and it’s not “love” to tolerate cancer when in fact it destroys the body.
Paul then uses the illustration of leaven in bread as a picture of sin, saying, “Don’t you know that a little lump of leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?” In other words, we are all lumps of dough in this illustration, and we are called to be unleavened lumps because it only takes a little bit of leaven
to leaven the whole lump of dough.
I. We Need God’s View of Morality
- One of the points I’ve made several times over the last several weeks is that we come to Christ of the world and we brought a lot of the world with
- That couldn’t be truer than when it comes to our perspective on sexuality and morality. We came out of the world and it’s very easy for people to bring
the world’s perspective on sexuality and morality with them when they come to faith in Jesus Christ.
- The Corinthians lived in Greece and that culture stood in distinct contrast to Jewish culture and the truth that Jesus Himself taught.
- Interestingly, after Alexander the Great, the Greek culture strongly influenced the known world. In fact, our New Testament is predominantly written
in Koine Greek, the main language used in Jesus’s day.
- Alexander the Great did not conquer Israel, however, because God spoke to him in a dream, in exchange, Israel accepted the Greek culture. This included
using Greek names and Greek language.
- But much of the Greek culture was offensive. For example, historically, Greek athletes competed completely naked. In fact the word gymnasium means
‘naked’ in Greek. But Jewish laws forbade public nakedness as dishonoring to God who gave sexuality as a gift to husband and wife.
A. These things are spiritually appraised
- Paul has used the phrase “spiritually appraised” several times and it has important meaning. To appraise something is to assess its value.
- Sometimes I hear people say, “What’s the big deal?” about this or that. In other words, they can’t understand the spiritual value, they can’t understand
God’s perspective. Why? Because these things are spiritually appraised.
- How are we spiritually transformed? When God changes our perspective; when we agree with His view of the thing.
Luke 16:15, He said to them, “… but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.”
- Would you agree that the world’s view of sexuality and morality is distinctly different from God’s?
- But how do we change? We take hold of God’s thoughts, God’s truth, God’s wisdom and place it higher than what we had in the world.
B. Life in the Spirit is better!
- Throughout these chapters Paul presses us to understand that maturity is better than immaturity; that life in the Spirit is better than life in the
- But that’s a lot easier to see from the perspective of the mature; it’s very difficult for an immature person to see that maturity is better.
- But truth rings true. Faith comes by hearing because as we hear the words of truth, the eyes of our heart begin to open…
John 6:63, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”
Galatians 3:3, Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
Illus – I had many conversations with my youngest son to open his eyes to help them see that maturity is better than immaturity…
C. God’s heart is always to restore
- Paul wrote that he decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh; that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
- The destruction of his ‘flesh’ refers to his earthly nature; that which is prone to sin.
- To deliver him to Satan means to put him outside the church, into the world, Satan’s domain, and remove him from spiritual protection. This would have
been a great consequence; there was only one church there.
- Paul is telling them to get him out of the church and give him over to his sin; which is the worst punishment of all.
Illus – Have we ever had to do this? Actually, yes. Many years ago there was a man who was addicted to having affairs and refused to own it. Finally, everything crashed in on him and he repented.
Romans 1:24, 27, Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them… receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
Illus – How many people would say, “If God had not saved me from the road I was on, it would have ended in disaster”?
- This was done for the purpose of restoration. “That his spirit may be saved for the day of the Lord Jesus.”
- The good news is that the church did remove him and that he was restored.
2 Corinthians 2:6-8, Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Reaffirm your love for him.
- God is always ready to forgive; He is always ready to restore and we should have the same heart as well.
Galatians 6:1, Brethren, if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.
Matthew 18:21-22, Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often show my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
Illus – I thought of a great app for smart phones; it would systematically keep track of everyone’s offenses against you so that when you’ve reached 490, you can start holding on to unforgiveness.
- No, the point is that you choose to forgive over and over until it becomes part of your character.
II. Don’t be a Spiritual Doughboy
- Paul uses a lump of dough as an analogy. Leaven puffs up the bread, and earlier he said that they had become puffed up. They took pride in tolerating this man’s immorality.
- Then he asks, “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?” In other words, sin, like leaven, grows and affects everything.
- The Pillsbury doughboy is a great picture of a puffed up lump of dough. The picture Paul gives is that even a little leaven will affect the whole lump
- In other words, the problem with sin is that it grows.
- Over and over scripture uses the analogy of bread. The Jews celebrated a weeklong Feast of Unleavened Bread which included the Passover, God gave them
manna to eat in the desert. Jesus said that He was the Bread of Life, He fed the 5,000 by multiplying five loaves and two fish. And then Paul says
we are to be an unleavened lump of dough.
A. Grow in the spirit, not in the flesh
- The reason leaven represents sin in the scripture is because it puffs up bread with nothingness.
Illus – Growing up, my mom used to buy puffed wheat, no doubt because you could buy a huge bag at little cost. But it would take a huge bowl to make a breakfast out of it and you would only have to swallow twice.
- The idea of sin as leaven is that it puffs up a person’s life with emptiness, or vanity.
Ecclesiastes 5:10, He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; for this also is vanity.
Psalm 119:37, Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in Your ways.
- Leaven spreads through the whole lump of dough. Immorality takes over more and more of a person’s life until it affects everything.
- I’ve seen the consequences of immorality over and over… First, it drains a person of spiritual life, then faith grows weaker and weaker, then
comes depression, emptiness, and fear…
Proverbs 28:1, The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.
Romans 6:21, What benefit did you gain from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.
- In the parable of the sower and the seed, Jesus spoke of those things which grow in our lives.
Luke 8:14-15, “The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life and bear no fruit to maturity. But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.”
- In verse 8 Paul says, the unleavened bread is sincerity and truth. In other words, unleavened bread isn’t just the removal of leaven, it’s the spiritual substance of the life of God within.
- There needs to be spiritual revival if there’s going to be a change in how a person lives. Otherwise, it’s just another rule, another external constraint.
- God doesn’t just give us rules, He gives us character, integrity, sincerity and truth.
Matthew 16:6, 12, Jesus said to them, “Watch out and be aware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” …Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Matthew 23:5, 14, 16, “They do all their deeds for show… for pretense they make long prayers… they are blind guides.”
- Sincerity is the opposite and it comes from the heart that is good and true. It literally means ‘examined in the light of the sun.’ In Latin it means
Illus – When the inside finds revival, the outer man changes.
1 Corinthians 5:1-13 NASB
1 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has
his father’s wife. 2 You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.
3 For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. 4 In the
name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 I have decided to deliver such a one
to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? 7 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. 8 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.
9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and
swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother
if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler-not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have
I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from