Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?
Purge it out - an earnest word; cleanse and purify by ridding the Church of its moral defilement, and so complete the work begun in the excommunication of the incestuous man. It is "old leaven," the relic of the natural man, and it threatens to destroy the new man of Christ's kingdom. For what now is the Divine ideal of a Christian? A new creature in Christ. And what the ideal of the Church? A new brotherhood of humanity in Christ. Therefore, purge out the old leaven, and be a new lump, remembering that even discipline executed in Christ's name has its dangers, and may divert us from attention to our own spiritual condition. Inasmuch, then, as St. Paul looked on the excision of the ungodly member of the Church, and the internal purification of the Church in all its members, as branches of one and the same duty, he presses his argument under the idea of a new lump not a mere outer reform, but a thoroughgoing inward renewal by the grace of the Spirit. Such language could have emanated from no man who had not been a religious Jew. Nor could it have proceeded from one who was simply a spiritual Jew. It was a Christian thinker, a thinker of catholic insight, who saw into Judaism from the cross of Calvary, when that cross and its Divine Sacrifice had the great darkness under which they stood cleared away by Pentecost. Once St. Paul had understood the scrupulous removing of the leaven by the Jews from their homes in a very different way. Once he had seen in the Pass over and kindred institutions a life giving and perpetual force. Now, however, the images lingered in his thoughts, only to remind him that Christians were "unleavened," and that all the leaven of impurity must be put away from them. For them the Paschal Lamb had been slain, and in the Victim's death they had redemption. "Let us keep the feast;" our consecrated life a festival of gladness, and our thanksgiving continually ascending to God. And how shall this long and sacred festivity be observed? No external demonstrations are mentioned. Could the Jew conceive of a festival like this? Would not the pomp and show of national reunions, the booths and palm boughs, the cheer of open air life, and the music and domestic joy of the congregated caravans, rush upon him with their thrilling recollections? And would not the Greek, whose senses were so finely attuned to whatever was beautiful in material nature, and whose very birthright was the luxury of existence beneath skies and amid landscapes that seemed to pour their sympathies into his bosom, - would not he recall the theatre and the games? And yet St. Paul tells them of a festival which the renewed soul may keep without any of these things, and be supremely happy. "The old leaven," especially "the leaven of malice and wickedness," must be excluded, and the feast must be kept "with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." The evil in our nature must be destroyed, and, in its place, must be had the genuine excellence which has been tried and proved, and the harmony that comes from self control because the human will is controlled by the indwelling Spirit of God. Virtues such as sincerity and truth need society, and, assuredly, society needs them. Eager to communicate and in turn to receive, what shall be the law of their intercourse with mankind? Fellowship is a Christian designation that cannot have its meaning in the world. But Christians are in the world, and a very important element in its life. To deny its associations and segregate themselves from others is to commit a species of suicide. On a former occasion St. Paul had written an Epistle touching this subject. But he had been misunderstood, and now he would rectify their error. They had blundered, not he. And now he sets the matter clearly before them by impressing on these Corinthians that there was not only a distinction between the Church and the world, but likewise between the good and the evil in the Church itself. Tares must grow with the wheat, but that was no reason why they should treat the tares as wheat. Fornicators in the Church or out of it were fornicators, and the brethren were not to keep company with them. And hence his explicitness, "not to company" with any man who was a fornicator, though he might be "called a brother." Nor does he stop here. Covetous men, idolaters, railers, drunkards, extortioners, they were not to associate with on such terms of social companionship as would be symbolized by eating with them. How could he as an apostle judge those who were without? If he did not do this, could they suppose that he meant to require it of them? The outer world must be left with God. And now St. Paul returns to the matter engrossing his solicitude: "Put away from among yourselves that wicked person." If, indeed, Christ is our Paschal Lamb; if through that offering of expiation and reconciliation in itself forever perfect and by us realized in pardon and renewal and sanctification, life becomes an Easter of glad thanksgiving; we must make this sincerity (purity) and this truth (harmony) visible to the world in our social sympathies. Bodily sins are easily condoned among men: beware of that evil. Extortion and covetousness grow out of the idolatry of the senses, and they must not be countenanced by familiar association. How modern is this Epistle! No thought had St. Paul of us and our century, but these words of his rise from their local connections and assume universality of application. Corinth is at our doors, because its spirit is in all unsanctified hearts. And yet - thanks to the grace of the Spirit - in all the foremost civilizations of this age and over a wider space than ever before, the Paschal Lamb is precious to thousands. Since the days of the apostle, human life has expanded its outward area. Myriads of things, unknown to it then, are its possession and strength and glory now. Two wonderful enlargements have gone on - that of the universe to our comprehension, and this of the globe and the world to which we belong. And, in the midst of all the widening, specially in the fuller opening of human sympathies and the growth of human intercourse, the blessed festival of Christian life repeats its ancient joy and multiplies the participants of its Divine gladness. - L.
Your glorying is not good.
I. IN ITS INTERNAL ENJOYMENTS. The association of Christly men is a "feast," because it contains the choicest elements for —
1. Spiritual nourishment. The quickening and elevating ideas current in such fellowships constitute a soul banquet, "a feast of fat things."
2. Spiritual gratification. What higher delight shall the loving intercourse of kindred souls. The true Church is not a melancholy assemblage, but is the most joyous fellowship on earth.
II. IN ITS EXTERNAL RELATION TO THE UNGODLY. There is a connection with ungodly men —
1. That it must avoid. As the Jews put away leaven at the Passover, so all corrupt men must be excluded from the Church feasts. Their presence, like leaven, would be contagious. No Church that has such leaven in it has any occasion for exultation (ver. 6).
2. That it cannot avoid (ver. 10). You cannot attend to your temporal affairs without contact with the ungodly, and as Christians you are bound to go among them to do them good. Over such you have no jurisdiction; they are "without," and God is to judge them, not you. But if they creep into the Church you are to deal with them (ver. 11). Observe here —(1) That sin takes many forms. What is temptation to one man is not to another. One is tempted to be a "fornicator," another a "miser," &c.(2) In whatever form this leaven shows itself it must not be tolerated for one moment.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)I. THE SPIRIT CONDEMNED.
II. THE EVIL OF IT.
1. Foolish, man has nothing to glory in.
2. Sinful in itself, often in its occasion.
3. Pernicious, it brings shame, humiliation, ruin.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)
A little1. Constantly.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)I. IN ITS NATURE.
II. IN ITS EFFECTS —
1. Upon communities.
2. Upon individuals.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)
I. THE HAPPY CONDITION OF ALL TRUE BELIEVERS IN CHRIST. "Christ our passover," &c. The habitual state of a Christian is that of one keeping a feast in perfect security. Observe how the apostle puts it: Christ is our passover — that by which God's wrath passes over from us who deserve its full vengeance: Christ is sacrificed, for He gave Himself for us. No new victim is expected or required. Let others offer what they will, ours is the Lamb once slain, and there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin. This completeness of sacrifice indeed is the main part of the festival which the Christian should perpetually keep. If there were anything yet to be done, how could we celebrate the feast? "Therefore," says the apostle — and it is a natural inference from it — "let us keep the feast."
1. The paschal lamb was not slain to be looked at, to be laid by, or merely made the subject of conversation; but it was slain to be fed upon. So it is your daily business to feed upon Christ, whose flesh is meat indeed, and whose blood is drink indeed. At the paschal supper the whole of the lamb was intended to be eaten; and thou art to feed upon the whole of Christ. No part is denied thee, neither His humiliation nor His glory, His kingship nor His priesthood, His Godhead nor His manhood.
2. A feast is not only for nourishment, but for exhilaration. Let us in this sense also keep a lifelong feast. The Christian is not only to take the doctrines which concern Christ, to build up his soul with, but he may draw from them the new wine of delight. At the passover the Jews were accustomed to sing. Let us keep the feast in the same way. Let your praises never cease.
3. At the passover the devout Jew was accustomed to teach his family the meaning of the feast. Let it be a part of our continual festival to tell to others what our Redeeming Lord has done. This precept does not refer merely to the Lord's Supper; it is of continuous force. Let us keep the feast always, for the Lamb is always slain.
II. A HOLY DUTY COMMENDED TO US. "Purge out, therefore, the old leaven." "Let us keep the feast; not with old leaven," &c.
1. Leaven is used in Scripture in every case but one as the emblem of sin. This arises from —(1) Its sourness. Sin, which for awhile may seem pleasant, will soon he nauseous even to the sinner; but the very least degree of sin is obnoxious to God. We cannot tell how much God hates sin.(2) Its corruption and corrupting influence. Sin is a corruption, it dissolves the very fabric of society and the constitution of man.(3) Its spreading character. No matter how great the measure of flour, the leaven will work its way. Even thus it is with sin. One woman sinned, and the whole human race was leavened by her fault. If the leaven of evil is permitted in a Church, it will work its way through the whole of it.(a) A little false doctrine is sure to pave the way for greater departures from truth. The doctrines of the gospel have such a close relation to one another, that if you snap a link you have broken the whole chain. "He that offendeth in one point is guilty of all."(b) The leaven of evil living, too, tolerated in one it will soon be excused in another, and a lower tone of thought with regard to sin will rule the Church. Sin is like the bale of goods which came from the East to this city in the olden time, which brought the pest in it. In those days one piece of rag carried the infection into a whole town.
2. This leaven must be purged out. In consequence of the command the head of the household among the Jews, especially when they grew more strict in their ritual, would go through the whole of the house on a certain day to search for every particle of leavened bread. With as scrupulous a care as the Israelite purged out the leaven from his house we are to purge out all sin from ourselves and in our conduct.(1) The Jewish householder would very soon put away all the large loaves of leavened bread, just as we gave up at once all those gross outward sins in which we indulged before.(2) Then perhaps the stray crusts which the children had left were put away. So there may be certain minor sins in the judgment of the world which the Christian man, when converted, may not put away the first week; but when they are seen he says, "I must have done with these."(3) But the most trouble would be caused by the little crumbs. We must not retain even a crumb of the evil leaven; we must earnestly desire to sweep it all out.(4) The whole house was searched. A Christian man may feel that he has got rid of all the leaven from his shop, yet it may be there is leaven in his private house.(5) A candle was used to throw a light into every corner of the house, that no leaven might escape notice. Take you the candle of God's Word, the candle of His Holy Spirit.(6) To purge out the old leaven many sweepings of the house will be wanted. For, mark you, you are sure to leave some leaven, and if you leave a little it will work and spread. It is hinted in the text that there are forms of evil which we must peculiarly watch against, and one is malice. I have known believers who have had a very keen sense of right, who have too much indulged the spirit deprecated here, i.e., they have been severe and censorious. Take good heed also that every form of hypocrisy be purged out, for the apostle tells us to eat the passover with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Let us leave off talking beyond our experience, let us never pray beyond what we mean.
III. THE HAPPINESS OF THE BELIEVER ACTS UPON HIS HOLINESS, AND HIS HOLINESS UPON HIS HAPPINESS.
1. The happiness acts upon the holiness.(1) If I feed upon Christ, who has been sacrificed for me, the happiness I feel leads me to say, "My sins slew my Saviour, and therefore will I slay my sins."(2) Sitting as you do within the house, and knowing that you are all safe because the blood is on the lintel outside, you will say, "The firstborn sons of Egypt are slain, and I am preserved. Why I must be God's firstborn, and must belong to Him." "Ye are not your own," &c.(3) Moreover, the Christian is encouraged to put away his leaven of sin because he has the foresight of a profitable exchange. The Israelite gave up leavened bread, but he soon had angels' food in the place of it.(4) The Christian, too, who knows that his sin is forgiven, feels that the God who could put away his load of sin will surely help to conquer his corruptions.
2. Holiness produces happiness. How quiet doth the soul become when the man feels, "I have done that which was right, I have given up that which was evil." What is it that makes God's people look so sad? It is the old leaven. "Let us keep the feast"; but it is useless to hope to do so while we keep the leaven. Conclusion: There are some here who are not saved. Notice how salvation comes — not through purging cut the leaven; that operation is to be seen to afterwards, but because the Paschal Lamb is slain. Do not begin at the wrong end, begin with the Cross.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)I. ITS NECESSITY arises from —
1. The existence of sin (ver. 1).
3. Disregard of the corrupting tendency of sin.
II. ITS MEANS.
1. The removal of that which offends.
3. Through the sacrifice of Christ.
III. ITS MOTIVES.
1. The full enjoyment of fellowship in Christ.
2. Which is interrupted by malice and wickedness.
3. But enhanced by sincerity and truth.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)
(J. Armstrong, D. D.)
(I. C. Booth, LL. D.)
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