The Apostle Paul says, “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” (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).
The old starter-dough leaven represents our old way of life. It is sin, godlessness, bad company, bad habits and all the things that taint our lives. Like an old culture of leavened starter dough, those things continue to leaven our lives from day to day, conforming us to our past. Paul urges us to make a clean break with the old culture and to start over as a new batch, like unleavened bread.
When the children of Israel left Egypt, they were leaving behind their old culture. While in Egypt they had absorbed much of the wickedness and idolatry of Egyptian society. The unleavened bread symbolized a new beginning. They were starting over.
In a spiritual sense, we leave Egypt when Messiah saves us. That’s what it means to be born again. It is a matter of starting over. When we become believers, we are supposed to die to our old way of life and begin life again as new creatures. We have to leave our old ways behind us.
Addiction counselors warn recovering addicts about falling back into old patterns. The recovering addict is at greatest risk when he spends time with old friends or revisits familiar hang-outs. To successfully overcome his addiction, it is important to break with the past, carve out new patterns of behavior and develop new, healthy habits. It is the same for all of us.
The leaven in our lives comes in a variety of disguises. It may be certain entertainments, amusements, vices, habits or social circles. Paul suggests that it may lie in the wicked and malicious attitudes of our hearts. Passover is an opportune time to break with our past and start over as new creatures in Messiah. Passover is an annual reminder that we must leave the old culture behind. Every Passover is a chance to start over. At Passover we remember that we have left our spiritual Egypt. We are free from the past, and we need to set aside those things in our lives that continue to enslave us. After all, starting over is what it means to be born again.