Maybe you have heard that phrase when you were a child, or said it as an adult to your own child. It is a nicer way to tell someone that their choice of friend(s) will affect them in a negative way. Bad influences have been around for a long time, and good people have been influenced by them for just as long. The Book of Proverbs has something to say about bad character and its influence on the good: A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm (Prov 12:26, 13:20). The principle that applies to us personally, also applies to a group corporately.
After all, it is one apple that contaminates the whole barrel. In a similar way, Paul uses the imagery of leaven and dough to explain the results of something small thoroughly affecting something much larger (v.6).
Leaven, when added to dough, causes the dough to rise; all of the dough reacts. Paul uses the familiar picture of leaven and dough to show the Corinthians what will happen to them unless the decisively deal with the sin in their midst. The Corinthian believers, left alone in their arrogance, will allow the sin of one individual to contaminate the whole church. Achan’s sin and subsequent death, stand for all time as an example of the seriousness of sin (no matter how small it seems to us), and the purity God expects from His people (Josh 7:1-26).
Getting rid of the leaven (v.7) so it won’t infect the whole lump is imperative. This is the same as saying, “And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?” (v.2), or “God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you” (v.13). Putting this man out of the church in Corinth, or putting someone out of our church today is not only for his or her good, but also for the good of the church.
God has always been serious about sin (Deut 17:2-7, 24:7). It was true in the Old Testament; it was true in Corinth, and it is true in the covenant community today. It is a scary thing to be under the discipline of the church, knowing that a possible result of an unrepentant heart may be an early death. An unrepentant person may choose his sin over righteousness and ultimately be turned over to Satan for his own good; that’s pretty bad. However bad that may seem, remember that Satan is still God’s Satan, and he is on a leash whose length is determined by God, for the glory of God.
Sin is serious. So much so that Jesus became it and died upon a cross to pay for it so we who believe could be righteous (2 Cor 5:21). There is no other way to please God. The sin in our lives may not be of church discipline proportions, but God still requires us to be pure. Jesus lived and died as an acceptable sacrifice for our sin, and by faith, his life becomes ours. Lay aside those things that cause you to stumble and come and walk in the light.
Bad apples are rotten to the core; don’t be a bad apple.
Father, help me to renounce those things that captivate my soul and turn its gaze from You. Help me to feast upon Your word and Your will and not the rotten fruit of the enemy. Help me to rejoice in the salvation You have provided me through Your Son; the joy of my wife and daughter, and the joy of friends. Thank You for the Gospel, the Good News that there is a better way, for today and forever. Soli Deo Gloria!
Grace and Peace,