The symbolic act of taking leaven from our houses is expanded to include ridding leaven from our minds and attitudes. Many messages have been preached about the process of deleavening, emphasizing that, as we clean, we think about the symbolism of leaven and sin.
We should try to strike a balance in our deleavening activities, knowing that cleaning every nook and cranny of crumbs does not sweep us into the Kingdom of God. God does not tell us to clean the attic if no one eating crackers has been up there the entire year. Still, it is useful to do if one has the time and ability. A more thorough cleaning, however, should not take away from spiritual preparation, such as prayer, Bible study, and fasting.
Reducing clutter as we deleaven, a kind of “simplifying of our lives,” can be a useful tool in identifying aspects of the world that Satan uses to entrap us. The untidiness in our lives can be equated with a certain messiness in our minds. We need to ask ourselves what hooks this year have caught and bound us to the world? Have we formed any attachments to our stuff that could cloud our judgment? Can any of our stuff be given to charity or to others in need, or simply disposed of in some other way in order to simplify our lives?
Our stuff is not evil, in and of itself. Certainly, my stuff is not! But we must have a clear notion of what is truly important in life—and it is not our cars, big-screen TVs, or cellphones! If the house were on fire, and once we made it outside, we looked around on the lawn and saw that all our family was safe, would there be any reason to run back into that burning home? Is any of our stuff worth our lives?
We eat unleavened bread during the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread as a sign, a memorial to God's law and His deliverance of His people from Egypt. As Moses tells the Israelites in Exodus 13:3, “Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out of this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten.”
Verse 6 tells us to eat unleavened bread seven days, and all leavening must be out of our homes and living spaces during that time. The reason appears in verses 8-9:
And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, “This is done because of what the LORD did for me when I came up from Egypt.” It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the LORD'S law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt.
God brought His people out of a land full of pagan gods and sins of all sorts. He took them into a wilderness to teach them His laws and to build their faith. Egypt represented the world, and the Israelites walked away from it.
In Genesis 45:16-20, when the king of Egypt finds that Joseph has family back in Canaan, he tells Joseph to bring them all to Egypt. The Pharaoh says in verse 20, “Also do not be concerned about your goods [kliy, stuff], for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.” In effect, he says, “Hop on the wagons and leave your stuff. I'll give you everything you need. Don't worry about it.” They probably brought some personal keepsakes, portable memories of one type or another, but whatever homes they had, full of stuff, they walked away from.
A few centuries later, they do it again. Even though they became slaves in Egypt, they lived in homes, which held the contents of their lives. The Israelites walked away from those as well, but instead of seventy people leaving Canaan, a couple of million left Egypt. They took their wages in the form of jewelry, an easy way to carry wealth. Again, they likely grabbed some items from their homes that carried special memories for them, but mostly, they walked away from the bulk of their stuff.
The apostle Paul instructed the Corinthian Christians to observe the Passover as a memorial of the death of Christ, our Passover, who was sacrificed for us.
Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Holy Days: Passover
Paul plainly instructs that the purpose of keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread is to remind us of our need to remove sin from our lives. Because of the serious sins that a Corinthian member had committed, and the congregation's general acceptance of this situation, Paul advises them to use the Days of Unleavened Bread to "purge out the old leaven." They should examine their attitudes and put these sins out of their lives and out of the congregation. He reminds them that the Passover is a memorial of the death of Christ, who died for us that we may receive forgiveness of sins. They "truly are unleavened," he says, in the sense that they had repented and been justified through faith in the sacrifice of Christ. However, since they had allowed leaven to return into their lives, they needed to get rid of it.
This is the heart of why we are still required to put leaven out of our homes. Leaven represents sin, and deleavening our homes symbolizes purging sin from our lives. However, cleansing our lives of sin is a lifetime process that will not be completely fulfilled until we are resurrected and transformed into spirit. As long as we are still flesh and blood, we will never be absolutely perfect—we will never free ourselves completely and totally of sin. This constant struggle to overcome human nature and put on God's nature is called sanctification. Nevertheless, we must continually strive to conform to the image of Jesus Christ, that is, to be a truly perfect human being (Philippians 3:12-14).
God wants us to observe the Days of Unleavened Bread year after year to remind us that we are not perfect and that our lives are a constant struggle against sin. When we deleaven our homes, we find that, no matter how hard we try, we cannot find every tiny crumb that may be imbedded in carpet or hidden behind an appliance. This illustrates how deceitful sin is and teaches us that we must constantly examine ourselves to purge it out of our lives. Removing sin is hard work! The Days of Unleavened Bread remind us annually of this constant warfare that all Christians must wage throughout their lives.
Why then must we remove leaven from our homes but need not be circumcised? The answer is that physical circumcision no longer has a purpose under the New Covenant. Its symbolism is fulfilled in the process of repentance, baptism, and receipt of the Holy Spirit. However, the object lesson of deleavening our homes still has great meaning and purpose for us. The symbolism of putting sin out of our lives will not be completely fulfilled until we are born into the Kingdom of God and become like Him who cannot sin (I John 3:9).
Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Why We Must Put Out Leaven
The Days of Unleavened Bread are a memorial to God's law and to His powerful deliverance from Egypt and bondage. Paul explains this significance to the Corinthians and the urgency attached to cease sinning. He says we should not even keep company with a brother involved in flagrant sin! Also, by ridding our homes of sin, we realize that overcoming sin is hard work!
Holy Days: Unleavened Bread
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing 1 Corinthians 5:7:
1 Corinthians 5:8