“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow…Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:7, 10)
In a previous year’s study as the Days of Unleavened Bread drew to a close, we explored how the command is that we must eat unleavened bread for seven days—the focus being on taking in Christ as the Bread of Life, rather than on thinking, even unintentionally, that we can get sin (leavening) out of our lives on our own.
One of the scriptures we really focused on in that study was a key passage where Paul tells the Corinthians:
“Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you are truly unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity (clearness, purity) and truth” (I Cor. 5:7-8)
The word translated “purge” in this passage means to cleanse thoroughly, with the implication of cleaning or purging out rather than just wiping down. It’s a very evocative, active word, and I think the King James translators used it very intentionally in this passage and one other (that we’ll get to later).
I hadn’t ever really thought about why and how the word “purge” is used here, but it caught my attention these past Days of Unleavened Bread, and brought to mind a few trains of thought that I wanted to share.
How are we supposed to become a new lump?
You can’t get leaven out of or “deleaven” your leavened bread dough. The yeast spores so thoroughly permeate every inch of the dough that it’s physically impossible. You have to start fresh with new dough. When the Israelites left Egypt, God forced them to completely throw out their old dough starters, with yeast that had built up multiplied over potentially decades. But He didn’t want them bringing any of that old leaven with them.
We, too, have to start fresh with new dough, metaphorically-speaking. Paul covered this topic a LOT. He illustrated it for us when he said, “For I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). In a letter to the Corinthians he told them, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (II Cor. 5:17).
When we came to understand the gravity of our former sins, repented, and were baptized, we entered into covenant with God and symbolically died in the watery grave of baptism. We came out of it as a new being (Rom. 6), free from sin, a new, unleavened lump. This is our purging, and it continues throughout the rest of our physical lives.
So let’s explore a couple things related to purging out our old leaven and being purged from sin. I’ll try not to get *too* graphic, but there are some parallels to our physical experiences that are hard to ignore. Like I said, they chose the word for a reason 🙂