During the weeks leading up to Passover-Unleavened Bread week, we diligently clean out the physical leaven from our dwellings. However, as believers in Yeshua, we must also take this opportunity to examine and search our hearts for any hidden leaven (i.e. hypocrisy). The Lord taught that in terms of the “Greater Exodus” (i.e. overcoming slavery to sin and death itself) the leaven of the heart is not so easily purged as the leaven of our homes each year.
“. . . Beware of the leaven of the (non-believing) Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”
The Lord compares leaven to hypocrisy. Hypocrisy here is not only an act of not conforming to moral standards one claims to have, but in the ancient world the word, hypocrisy referred to an “actor.” In other words, “leaven” in the heart or spiritual hypocrisy contaminates the whole person, and such a “religious” person is nothing more than an actor, a fake, or a fraud. Their so called “faith” is not authentic. Thus, their works are not “of faith,” but of vanity.
Paul goes on to warn the believing community to remove the hypocrites (spiritual actors) from their assemblies, and not to associate with those who claim to believe, but whose lives contradict the clear teachings in the Word of God.
1 Corinthians 5:6–13
6Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? 7Clean 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. 8Therefore let us celebrate The Feast (i.e. of Passover/Unleavened Bread), not with old leaven (i.e. hypocrisy of the old man), nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.
11But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the assembly? 13But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.
Lord willing, we ourselves are not acting as hypocrites, but we must be sober in our assessment of ourselves so that we too do not fall into sin. But it is important to remove the leavened man from our midst through judging our communities and those we associate closely with in community righteously. If there are hypocrites among us, they need to be lovingly and firmly confronted, and if necessary (because of a refusal to repent), removed from the community. Yeshua said there would be divisions because of the Word He preached, even among family members. Not all division is ungodly. Sometimes the hypocrites of the faith need to be sifted by the enemy apart from the community so they do not contaminate the rest of the community with their unrepentant sin and hypocrisy. As Paul notes earlier in verse five, it is better to turn a man out and allow the enemy to destroy his flesh, with the hope that the trials and death that sin brings into one’s life will cause him to turn and repent so that his spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord, i.e. on the final Day of Judgment.