Sunday, June 30, 2024

Partaking Unworthily (1 Corinthians 11:27-34)

"For he who eats and drinks in any unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body" (1 Cor. 11:29).

Those, like the Corinthians, who treat the symbols of Christ’s body and blood irreverently are guilty of irreverence toward Christ Himself. The result is God’s judgment in the form of sickness and death.

To partake of the sacrament in an unworthy manner does not mean you have doubts when you come to the Table. Many people refrain from taking communion because they have doubts about their salvation. This, however, is a sign of weak faith not a sign of irreverence. The very nature of the Table is to strengthen faith. Those who are weak, who recognize they need Christ, but who have doubts, are urged to come to the Table to find strength in Christ. “To eat or drink unworthily is in general to come to the Lord’s table in a careless, irreverent spirit, without the intention or desire to commemorate the death of Christ as the sacrifice for our sins,” Hodge wrote.

We must, therefore, examine ourselves before we come to the Lord’s Supper. We must examine our intentions, our motivations, and we must repent of known sins and be reconciled to our brethren. We also must ascertain whether we have a correct understanding of the nature of the Supper. Do we recognize that we come to commemorate the Lord’s death, to partake of the benefits of that death as a sacrifice for our sins, to publicly accept the covenant of grace with all its promises and obligations, and to signify that we have fellowship with our brethren as joint members of the body of Christ? If we do not discriminate this communion from an ordinary meal, and if we do not examine ourselves, we are in danger of being judged because we have not judged ourselves. The judgment spoken of here is not necessarily eternal judgment, but judgment in the form of sickness and even death, as Paul says. The purpose of these judgments is disciplinary, to bring us back to a right treatment of the ordinance God has established, to a right understanding of Christ Himself and what He has done for us.

The Table of the Lord is not one of gloom. It is a serious occasion, but one of joy as we celebrate the grace of God in the death of Christ. Let each of us examine ourselves so that we might partake of the benefits of His grace with reverence and thanksgiving.

Before your church observes the Lord’s Supper again, meditate on what the death of Christ means. Confess of your sins and be reconciled to anyone you might have a conflict with. Then come to the Supper in humility and reverence, thankful for Christ’s sacrifice and His mercy in bringing you into His kingdom.