Summary: What is the only motivation that will really release us from the grip of sin? The cross!
Let’s open our Bibles this morning to 1 Corinthians chapter 5. I want to remind you this morning that in 2 Chronicles 7 God promised His presence to those who would humble themselves and pray, seek God’s face, and who would turn from their wicked ways. People wanting to encounter God must not only humble themselves and pray, not only seek God’s face, but also repent and turn from sin.
But the question I have for us this morning is this: what motivation do we have for turning away from something that seems so enjoyable, something that makes us feel better temporarily, something that comforts our flesh or that drowns out our problems? Why would we want to stop this behavior when it really is so fun?
There are some motivations that won’t do it. The desire to please other people is not strong enough to turn our hearts from that which we love. The fear of getting caught, or the desire to avoid the inevitable consequences is not strong enough to keep us from sinning. Even the fear of hell is not strong enough to make us stop sinning.
See when people see how attractive sin is they will push past the desire to make others happy, they will totally ignore consequences, and they push God, eternity, heaven and hell right out of their minds.
Picture with me a man who is being tempted, and he is fixated on that object of temptation. And his wife calls to him, “please don’t do that, please, for me?” And he shuts his ears to her and can hardly hear her voice. And he gets a little thought, “you know, this will have bad consequences for you” and he pushes that thought out of his mind. And he goes to church and hear hears in the sermon, “you will have to answer to God for this, this could drag your soul into hell” and he gets up and leaves and doesn’t come back. Nothing, nothing can provide strong enough motivation for a man to turn from his wicked ways.
No motivation is strong enough to radically turn a man from that which his heart loves. However, there is one thing strong enough to break the power of sin. There is one thing strong enough to entirely turn us from our wicked ways. Let’s read about it in 1 Corinthians 5, and see if you can see the motivation:
7 Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast--as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth. 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 (NIV)
And I see 3 things in this passage:
Regulation (get rid of the old yeast)
Motivation (Christ has been sacrificed)
Celebration (keep the festival—celebrate the festival)
Let’s look at these together. First, the regulation or the commandment in verse 7: Get rid of the old yeast. That’s the commandment, that’s the regulation.
Now what yeast is he talking about here? Is he saying we’re supposed to only eat crackers? You know, flat bread with no yeast in it? No, what he is saying is explained in verse 8. He is referring to the “yeast of malice and wickedness.” In other words, turn from your wicked ways. Christians are to get rid of life-dominating sin.