All members of your congregation have a church-right to the Lord’s Supper, but not everything is permissible with regard to Communion. Paul said it is necessary to examine yourself closely before taking it. 1 Cor. 11:28-31 says “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning (or being sensitive to) the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.”
Paul does not state “he who is unworthy” – but he says “he who eateth and drinketh unworthily.” That’s why you should examine yourself first, and the following is what you should examine yourself for. Corinth was a center of world trade. Consider it to be today’s Orlando or New York. The Lord Himself informed Paul he had much people in Corinth (Acts 18:10), but after Paul left, their spiritual life dropped to a low level. Schisms took place, love grew cold among the saints. They became jealous of each other’s gifts. Heresies (deviations) entered the church. Some returned to their former ways (backsliding). Gross sins were committed. One came to the communion table hungry, and another came drunk. Communion is intended to be a blessing, but because people didn’t examine themselves first, it became a curse by bringing judgment upon them. If we seat ourselves at the sacred table as though it were an ordinary table, without reverence, as though it were only food and drink – only bread and wine to satisfy the body – then we are taking it “unworthily.” If we are filled with all sorts of gross sins and vile affections, and KNOW we are guilty and unrepentant, then we are taking it “unworthily.” “For this cause, many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.”
Examine yourself. Remember that God visited many with sickness and bodily weakness, and others have died (Paul did not say that those who died perished) and the people were to consider these afflictions as warnings to the congregation. If you fail to examine yourself, you are NOT discerning (or sensitive to) the Lord’s body. You are NOT valuing it highly. Don’t consider communion to be a common thing – a mere formality – but consider it a reminder of the necessity for you to die more and more to sin, and to live a life pleasing to God. Consider what communion REALLY is – an OFFERING for sin! So examine yourself! Haggai said “consider your ways.” Now is the time to concern yourself about your sins. Now is NOT the time to merely partake because of habit and custom so people can see you are converted! If you don’t consider the seriousness of taking it, you could be severely punished. SERIOUSLY examine yourself! SERIOUSLY give careful heed to the matters of eternity! If you set yourself at that table without a confession of your sins (unrepentant) – without exercising faith and love – without any inclination (or leaning towards) or desire to be holy and have a holy conversation -as though it were an ordinary table – then you are taking it unworthily.
Without due preparation (proper self examination), approaching a communion table brings God’s displeasure upon you. Examin yourself means to try, test, or look closely and carefully at your life. Agoldsmith tests precious metals to determine their quality. What is the quality of our life? Does it contain any impure or foreign elements? With God, there are no secrets. He is all-knowing. He tries the reigns of the heart, just like He tried Abraham when He asked him to offer Isaac. We say (Psalms 139:23) “search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts” – but the fact is, He already knows! You need to examine YOURSELF to see if you are in the proper state of mind to honor the Lord’s death. After all – this is in REMEMBERANCE of Him!
Did you know that in preparation for the Passover, not everyone was able to eat it? No uncircumcised person, no one who touched a dead body, no one with patched or torn clothing could enter the temple, and you couldn’t wear shoes or come in with dust on your feet. It’s called HOLY Communion because Jesus had a holy purpose – to be our Passover. When He sees the blood, He passes over us. When He died, he sent his Spirit to help us. Don’t thoughtlessly partake of the Lord’s Supper! Examine yourself!
Others are inclined to judge us inconsiderately. They act as “spiritual inspectors” when they TOO are instructed to EXAMINE THEMSELVES! Only Pastors have the responsibility of faithfully dealing with souls entrusted to them, because the blood of the congregation shall one day be required at THEIR hands. Pastors are to examine people in truth and sincerity, but sometimes they choose to leave us alone. Certainly the EASIEST thing to do would be to leave us alone, but if they do, they fear man – not God. If they’d rather remain honored and respected at the expense of the Word, let them be warned that they WILL have to give an account of their stewardship! It would be better to have all men against them, and God for them, than the other way around.
For the most part, it IS a personal matter. Let’s examine OURSELVES. Have we humbled ourselves before God because of our sins? Do we believe God’s promise that all our sins are forgiven? Do we show thanks to God in our lives by walking uprightly before Him (go and sin no more)? Communion is our acknowledgment that we are worthy of death. It is our clear understanding of our guilt because we violated His precepts and transgressed His commandments. We then cast ourselves from our throne. His grace humbles us and compels us to take the lower place. Think of the publican in Luke 18:10-14 who didn’t even stand in the front part of the temple, but far in the rear, and it was a wonder to him that he could even stand there! He felt he did not deserve to occupy ANY place there. Ashamed and confounded before God, he did not dare raise his eyes to heaven, but smote his breast saying “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” The publican was more justified than the pharisee because “every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
Communion fixes our eyes on our Savior. We realize WE have pierced Him with our sins. When we look towards Him whom we have pierced, we should mourn, bow down, worship, and ask for forgiveness because we realize we just can’t help ourselves! Some may think only those who are established in the faith should take communion. Accordingly, even the THOUGHT of taking communion scares people and they shy away from it. But nothing could be further from the truth! This self-examination is not intended to keep God’s people AWAY from the Lord’s Table. Self-examination should stir you up to approach the table in the proper manner. The purpose is to bring you into remembrance that all our sins are forgiven because of the passion and death of Jesus, and that all our righteousness is as filthy rags. Taking communion SHOULD bring inner conflict and distress of soul, but don’t think for one moment that your sin and guilt has not been removed! Jesus sat at the communion table that night with his DISCIPLES! At that point, they were not classified as established and assured Christians! Remember Peter’s denial, Judas’ betrayal, doubtful Thomas, and the fact that Jesus told them “All ye shall be offended because of me this night,” but still, He gave them all bread and drink! Communion is testimony to our fellowship with the broken body and the shed blood of Jesus. If the Lord’s supper was prepared for “worthy” people only, no one would be able to come, because we ALL have fallen short! James 3:2 says “For in many things, we offend all.” Paul says “for the good that I would, I do not, but the evil I would not, that, I do.” If we present ourselves only on the basis of our worthiness, we may as well continue to stand afar off like the publican, but we are told to come BOLDLY to the throne of grace! So we can’t assume that only the persons who possess assurance and who are strong in their faith should take communion! When you look at the 12 disciples, the opposite is evident! Communion is instituted to HELP our infirmities, and STRENGTHEN our assurance that all our sins are forgiven. After taking it, we are confident. Our hearts are peaceful and joyful – not sad – because now, we TRUST Him even more! Taking communion is a reminder to BELIEVE the faithful promise of remission of sins, and to acknowledge that we would All certainly have to perish if there were no Jesus!
Can you see how when a person “examines himself” in light of these facts, satan must take flight? The devil tries to whip us into submission and defeat. He tries to entangle us in the snares of unbelief where we say “I am not fit to partake. I am too wicked – too ungodly. This is a FALSE foundation because we are MORE than conquerors! Do NOT permit unbelief to overpower you! For whom did Christ come into the world? Did he not come to seek and to save that which was lost? Our DESIRE is to become united with Him and to find refuge in Him! We ARE the Mephibosheth‘s of the world, lame, yet brought to the table to eat and drink continually, and to be restored! Communion actually FREES us from the devil’s grasp, because no matter what, we are welcome at the table!!! We remember that all things are possible to them that believe, and God IS faithful and just to forgive us, and STILL willing to cast our sins into the sea of forgetfulness! Isn’t that refreshing? Comforting? Doesn’t that STRENGTHEN your faith, enliven your hope and stir up your gifts? That’s why Jesus a ROCK in a weary land! There IS no other name given under heaven whereby we must be saved! When you take communion in this light, it will profit and bless your soul!
If you possess ANY measure of faith, you should RUN to the communion table, and REMEMBER that your sins have been purged, and your friendship with Christ has been restored through the blood of the lamb. Oh, what a privilege to lean on the everlasting arm!
In closing, consider the love extended to us. The greatest sinner may yet find grace with God! Shouldn’t we be determined to show gratitude by strengthening our faith, and bettering our lives? The drunkard should become sober; the immoral, pure; the addicted, free; the disrespectful, should become respectful; the fearful, courageous; and the rude should become kind, loving, and caring. Skeptics cannot explain this fact, but believers can. The most compelling fact that the bible is real is evidenced by changed lives, so let’s shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation. Let’s try harder not to let our lifestyle conflict with our faith. Have a blessed Easter!