You Cannot. You Can.

1 Corinthians 5

Sometimes I wonder if God is setting me up to fail. Do you? When you read a passage like 1 Corinthians 5:7–8, do you wonder if God’s asking you to do something you cannot?

“Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ, our Passover, also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

This verse makes it sound like we’re supposed to be perfect—how does that work? And in the middle of all this talk of leaven (yeast), why is it important to remember that Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed?

How is Jesus our Passover lamb?

In Exodus 12, God tells the Israelites how to observe the first Passover feast. God is about to send the tenth and final plague upon Egypt: the death of the firstborn. The firstborn of every house will die—unless something else dies first.

That something else is a lamb. A perfect lamb.

Every household is to smear the lamb’s blood on their home’s doorposts and lintel. God himself promises, “when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you.”

The Israelites couldn’t keep the plague out on their own. Just as neither you nor I can stay God’s judgment against us. It’s one reason Jesus came to die—to bear the wrath of God in our place (Romans 5:9).

Jesus does what we cannot

Christ, our Passover has been sacrificed. But how do we clean out the leaven of malice and wickedness? Are we really supposed to be perfect?

In his book Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die, John Piper addresses this question:

“We have been made unleavened in Christ. So we should now become unleavened in practice. In other words, we should become what we are. The basis of all this? ‘For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.’ The suffering of Christ secures our perfection so firmly that it is already now a reality.”

(In case you’d like to see more reasons Jesus came to die, this book is on sale this week.)

Now we do what we can: obey

We’re bought with precious blood, “as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:19). Our transformation is secured in Christ; now we obey and clean house. When I ponder Jesus’ sacrifice, I face an abundance of reasons to obey:

  • Christ loved me so much that he died for me; why wouldn’t I follow this person?
  • The Bible states that the perfecting work of Christ is done; if I believe this, I’ll behave accordingly.
  • God has given me an opportunity to participate in the process of becoming more like Jesus; it should be a joy to do so.

This transformation is tough. At times, it feels impossible. But God is faithful, and he isn’t telling us to do anything we cannot.

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2 Responses to “You Cannot. You Can.”

  1. blessingsframed March 26, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    I love this article. Reading what you ponder has lead me to do some thinking of my own. As the holiday approaches this weekend, I feel deep gratitude and joy with the opportunity to not only follow Jesus, but to actively become more like him as well. Thanks for sharing!

    • Chip Fields March 27, 2013 at 5:05 am #

      Our belief and behavior will never be congruent. That is the purpose of sanctification–to bring them into harmony (conform us to the image of His Son). But we will never get there in this life. Belief (justfication) is an event. Behavior (sanctification) is a process. The flesh is never improved nor removed. Only when we shed our flesh will the process be complete. And, of course, that happens at death (glorification).