“Your boasting is not a good thing. Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch, as you really are unleavened. For our pashcal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. … Is it not those who are inside that you are to judge? God will judge those outside, ‘Drive out the wicked person from among you.’” 1 Corinthians 5:6-8, 12b-13
While this passage is commentary on a specific case of sexual immorality and the local church’s reaction to that case (1 Cor 5:1-5), it is also a thoughtful piece on how believers are to hold sinful believers accountable so as to maintain purity and holiness in the Body of Christ. In practice this is a tough balancing act. Our doors are open to all, believers and non-believers for we are all sinners who fall short of the glory of God. The thing is, once “inside” and one professes faith, professes belief in Christ, confesses to being an unbelieving sinner then repents and becomes a believer, a holy act occurs. Justifed and sanctified we are cleansed. The symbolism of leavened vs un-leavened bread is helpful. No yeast is to be introduced into a kitchen where un-leavened bread is being prepared. But wait, we open our doors to all?! Yes we do for God loved the all world so much that he sent his Son that all may believe and come to faith. It is once we come to faith, once we have been transformed into Christ likeness, we continue being transformed by God into the fullness of the likeness of Christ. Returning to sinful ways of a non-believer, the ways of the world is contrary to living a life of ongoing sanctification. We are to be held accountable and to hold others accountable, in truth and love. If/when a professed believer refuses accountability, refuses to repent we owe it to the Body of Christ to send them away. Now ask yourself, “Is there any sin, any attitude, any wrong thinking in me that would cause me to be sent out from the Body of Christ?” If so, confess to God, turn from it and turn totally to God. I cannot hold others accountable if I am out of order myself. Remove the malice and evil and replace them with sincerity and truth.