Right and wrong. Do you know the difference?
For the most part, we are taught from an early age the difference between these two concepts. Certain actions were forbidden; others were required. Some things were met with a firm “No!”—and if we ignored the “No,” we received an undesirable consequence.
We learned that some things were OK while some things were not. We also learned that we had to do certain things—and that not doing those things was wrong.
Some define this idea—of things being either right or wrong—as “morality” or “values.” And that idea came from the Creator God! His Word defines right and wrong. Sometimes it terms these things as “good’ and “evil.” In biblical terminology, the wrong way is called “sin,” and the right is called “righteousness.” Sin, in fact, is the transgression of law (1 John 3:4)—God’s law. A person or an action can be “sinful” or “lawful.”
Two Opposite States
God instituted a festival that depicts this exact thing in a tangible, physical form. The Days of Unleavened Bread teach us this basic and all-encompassing concept. Bread cannot have a little leaven in it and be unleavened (1 Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:9). It is either leavened or unleavened.
This is a concept that even the mind of a child can comprehend!
Yet life is full of struggles as we try to do the right thing and resist things we have learned are wrong. We struggle constantly to do what we should and avoid doing what we shouldn’t.
And what does unleavened bread have to do with it? The answer is astoundingly simple—yet life-altering and profound.
Where Did Law and Sin Come From?
First, consider that God’s law—this code of conduct—is based on God’s nature of love. God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). His law is love (Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:14). God, therefore, is the embodiment of His law.
From the beginning, there was a way that God and the Word lived. It was natural to them; Peter called it the “divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). When man was created, God defined for man His nature in the form of His law. Again, sin is defined as a transgression of that law. God cannot sin (for example, Titus 1:2 says He cannot lie), and the reason God cannot is because sin is the opposite of what He is.
We know this law was in existence even before man, though. When Lucifer became God’s adversary—when he became anti-God—Ezekiel 28:15 says “iniquity,” or “lawlessness,” was found in him. Verse 16 says “[T]hou hast sinned.” For the first time in history, a being went contrary to the way God and the Word were—the way they had lived for eternity.
Throughout the Bible, God makes abundantly clear the right way, His law—both its overarching principle of love and its finer points of how love is manifested, broken down into Ten Commandments and even furthermore into finer statutes and judgments.
That law defines what is right and wrong. We know what sin is because of the law (Romans 7:7). And we know when we fall short. It’s hard to keep the law, isn’t it? Add to that, that the first sinner is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) and he is constantly working to get us to sin (Ephesians 2:2; Revelation 12:9).
Even as a young person, you know that doing the “right thing”—overcoming sin and keeping God’s law perfectly—under these conditions, is nearly impossible.
The Bible reveals that without God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in a person, the unconverted mind cannot keep God’s law to its truest intent. God must be creating His “divine nature” in a person through the power of that indwelling Spirit.
But there is something you can do—even while young—to build proper habits in you, as God’s Spirit leads you to choose God’s way when you are fully mature enough to make such a commitment.
If all you are trying to do is resist sin or to stop sinning, you need to more deeply understand the Days of Unleavened Bread.
What Unleavened Bread Has to Do With It
We have ample material to show how God uses the symbol of leaven in bread to depict aspects of sin—specifically for seven days. And for the time leading up to this week-long period, we physically remove all leaven from our premises—as the Bible commands (Exodus 12:19).
But we don’t stop there! God says in Leviticus 23:6: “And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.”
See, the seven days of Unleavened Bread aren’t just seven days of abstaining from eating leaven. Notice, God doesn’t call it the feast of no leavened bread. God puts the emphasis here on the “unleavening”—a symbol of righteousness.
The lesson we learn from bread is that it must either be leavened or unleavened. It cannot be both—nor can it be neither.
We must do the exact opposite of sin—we must do righteousness. This, then, is a major lesson of the Days of Unleavened Bread: To every sinful action, there is a contrary righteous action. These days teach us how to live the opposite way of sin.
We Don’t ‘Stop’ Sinning By Simply ‘Stopping’
Again, overcoming is a spiritual endeavor and is impossible without God’s help. But these days teach us a vital part we can play in this—and it is a lesson even a young person can learn.
We don’t just stop sinning by not doing that sin any more, just as we don’t simply not eat leavened bread for seven days. We must eat unleavened bread for those seven days.
A way we can stop sinning is by replacing the sinful action with righteousness—just like we eat unleavened bread in place of the leavened bread we normally eat.
The Apostle Paul expounded on this concept in Ephesians 4, citing several practical examples of sins that have what we could call righteous counteractions.
He prefaces these examples by telling the Christian to “put off … the former [conduct]” which he calls “the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,” and admonishes this Christian to “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24).
A converted Christian doesn’t just put off the old man. This person is to replace it with the new man—created by God in “righteousness and true holiness.” The specific examples he gives next are principles that can be practiced even by a young person.
In the verses to follow, Paul stresses that it is more than just stopping the sinful action. It requires doing the opposite instead. Living the meaning of these days is more than just abstaining from certain sinful actions. It’s more than just removing the leavening. It’s about eating the unleavened—living and acting upon the righteous way.
Replace Sinful Actions With the Righteous Opposite
God’s spring holy day plan includes removing sin and replacing it with something. In fact, replacing the sin with righteousness is the only sure way to remove the sin! It’s the principle of overcoming evil with good (Romans 12:21).
Notice the example Paul uses in Ephesians 4:28: “Let him that stole steal no more ….” So Paul says that to overcome the sin of stealing, you do have to stop stealing first, yes. That is what it means to get the leavening out! But just abstaining from stealing doesn’t rehabilitate a thief.
A thief who isn’t stealing is just a thief between jobs. To really overcome this sin, Paul says that the thief must do the opposite! And what is that? “[B]ut rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”
A thief overcomes being a thief when he learns to work for his wages—and he even learns to give of what he earns to those who need it! He must stop walking according to the way of get and walk according to the way of give!
Paul uses other examples in this passage: “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another” (verse 25).
Verse 29 refers to another sin of the tongue: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
If you have trouble lying or cursing or gossiping, you don’t overcome it by simply never uttering another word. That’s like only getting the leavening out, but not eating the unleavened bread. To stop lying, we must instead speak the truth. If we have a problem gossiping, Paul says to replace that type of speech with words that build others up—find something positive to say about another.
If you go into the Days of Unleavened Bread with a list (perhaps mental, maybe even written down somewhere) of things that you know you need to stop doing, then consider: What do you replace it with? We certainly must replace thoughts of such sinful actions with righteous thoughts, and we must replace sinful actions with righteous ones—these righteous counteractions. Don’t just abstain from the sinful thoughts and actions. Think and do the righteous.
It is important to note the two types of sins that we generally commit—sins of omission (things that we should be doing that we don’t do) and sins of commission (things that we do that are directly in violation of God’s law). During the Days of Unleavened Bread—and throughout the year—as we become more aware our sins, God wants us to realize that if it’s a sin of omission, the next course of action is obviously to start doing what we should be doing. If it’s a sin of commission, then we must find the righteous opposite to that sinful action. Ask, “How do I repent of this sin? What is the righteous conduct I should take in the future to come out of this sin?”
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8, “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
We purge the leaven so that we can become a new unleavened lump. We replace the leaven with unleaven! We replace, as the example here shows, the malice and wickedness with sincerity and truth!
Overcoming sin means going the opposite way from sin—committing the righteous counteraction.
This spring, as we search out and find the leaven physically, we all must meditate on not just the sins in our lives, but on the righteous opposites. We must pray for God to show us the “unleavened bread” that we can use to replace the leavening in our lives. Doing this will help us to make this year’s Days of Unleavened Bread—regardless of our age—the most meaningful ever.