Keeping the Company Clean - 1 Cor. 5
H. Beattie, Bury St. Edmunds
4. KEEPING THE COMPANY CLEAN 1 Corinthians 5
In this chapter Paul turns from the irony of his description of artificially glutted believers to the thought of true saints of God nourished by the unleavened loaves of sincerity and truth.
The Christian life is looked at as a continual feast or festival, and the analogy chosen in the reference to the Passover speaks of enjoyed redemption, by blood and by power, from cruel bondage. The abundant divine provision has been made -Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed. It is our daily privilege to assimilate and enjoy, through the Word, Christ, the Lamb without blemish, 1 Pet. 1. 19, to appreciate the unleavened loaves of sincerity and truth, the authentic Bread of life, John 6. 48-63, and to live thinking of the imminent exodus - this is constant liberation from every thraldom of world, flesh, or devil. This is pure, transparent joy!
Keeping the feast is not restricted to any special meeting or time. This enjoyment of Christ is for each moment of the believer’s life. There is no need for a special ecclesiastical calendar for the possibility of feasting on Christ; our passover is ever present. Consider the phrase in 2 Chronicles 30. 21, “with great gladness”. The main condition lies in separation from all that is impure and malicious, as in the command of Hezekiah, “sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place”, 29. 5. Hence the injunction to the local assembly to remove contamination from each heart; “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump”, 1 Cor. 5. 7.
It is a tragic fact that professing Christians can often advance further into sin and immorality than the pagans, and that without compunction. This was the case in the assembly at Corinth. Acts were being committed that primitive pagan customs would have forbidden. Paul thought the Christians would have longed for the removal of the guilty one, perhaps as in 11. 30. They had not done so, because of arrogance and place-seeking. The apostle was obliged to intervene.
The delivering of the morally impure believer to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (as in 1 Timothy 1. 20, with the doctrinally impure) seems to have been an apostolic prerogative. The clear duty of a local assembly, however, to deal with such trouble in its midst, is stated in verse 13, where the responsible men, duly humbled by the removal of the leaven of arrogance from their own hearts, would remove from the assembly the dangerous leaven in the person and practice of the fornicator. In connection with the ravages of Satan, Job 1. 10 mentions the hedge of protection around the people of God.
A sharp distinction is drawn between impure Christians and impure pagans. The discipline exercised and the sanctions taken against the true child of God fallen into sin are meant to lead him or her to a state of repentance and to the blessings of restoration, as in Galatians 6. 1. This seems to have been the result in 2 Corinthians 2. 6-7. Such an attitude is to be adopted towards the sexually impure, those greedy of gain, those whose loyalties are prostituted, those who readily spit venom, those who are slaves to strong drink, and those who seize things from others by force, 1 Cor. 5. 11. There was not to be any intimate association between the believers and such professing Christians until a spirit of true contrition was evident.
The attitude towards similar folk in the world of men was to be different. Links were to be maintained with them, if such links could eventually lead them to the knowledge of the Gospel. Compare the attitude of our blessed Lord, Luke 15. 1-2, “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them”. We must be careful not to cut ourselves off from the world that God loves, while all the time aping the world that God detests.
What a lot is comprised in keeping the feast continually, and being freed from Egypt through the precious blood of the Paschal Lamb. If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed, John 8. 36.