Discipline Brings Unity

Key Verse: “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
—I Corinthians 5:8

Selected Scripture:
I Corinthians 5:1-13

THIS LESSON BEGINS WITH Paul making reference to the report of immorality in the Corinthian church. Such actions not only violated the Mosaic Law, but also were esteemed as evil by the ‘pagan’ Gentiles. Even more astonishing to Paul was the fact that the church did not appear upset, nor had they done anything about the situation that had developed.

Paul was very solemn in giving his directions for the appropriate course of action to be taken by the Corinthians. Although he certainly did not take joy in this matter, it was imperative that apostolic judgment be rendered. He was, however, very careful in stating that this was being done “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” and “with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ.”—I Cor. 5:4

It was not the intention of Paul to judge the individual’s eternal destiny, but simply to judge the matter, and to act in the best interests of the church as a whole. His desire was that, in this individual, “the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (vs. 5) Although Paul was addressing the Corinthian brethren, the larger lesson is for the entire church.

He likens sin to leaven (vs. 6), and that a very small amount can adversely affect the entire life of a Christian. Hence, it becomes necessary for each one to purge, get rid of, those aspects of thoughts, words, and actions that have a leavening or corrupting influence, whether upon others or ourselves. The true followers of Jesus are to be “unleavened” (vs. 7) in the sense that they are striving to follow as closely as possible in the footsteps of their perfect pattern, Jesus Christ. He was our Passover, our “bread of life.” (John 6:48) He was completely unleavened, perfect, and we are to partake of him by seeking to follow his example as closely as possible.

The Key Verse points out that this process of following in the footsteps of Jesus, our unleavened bread of life, is likened to the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread kept by the Israelites, during which they ate nothing leavened. In addition, they cleaned their houses, ridding them of any vestiges of leaven that had accumulated during the year. How fitting is this picture as it illustrates the process that all the Lord’s followers are to be engaged in; in other words, the sweeping away of “malice and wickedness,” and partaking only of the “unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”—vs. 8

Paul concludes his lesson by again reminding the brethren at Corinth of their responsibilities and their need to be cautious regarding who they include in their fellowship. The world is full of sin, and although none of the Lord’s followers are perfect, nevertheless, each has the responsibility to live as far away from sin as possible, no matter in what form it may come. True discipline of one’s self in thought, word, and deed will not only bring about a more complete unity with God on an individual basis, but it will also promote increased unity and spirituality within the church as a whole, as each strives toward the same goal—to be “a vessel unto honour.”—II Tim. 2:21

Dawn Bible Students Association
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