1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 72
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998|
|So often we love to examine somebody else. It’s amazing how we look at other people more than we look at ourselves. So examine yourself. As we say many times, draw that circle around yourself. Don’t be pointing a finger or wishing somebody else was here to hear the message. Ask the Lord what He is saying to you.|
1 Corinthians 11:27-29
My title for this study is “Examine Yourself.” I want to make sure we understand that title. So often we love to examine somebody else. It’s amazing how we look at other people more than we look at ourselves. So examine yourself. As we say many times, draw that circle around yourself. Don’t be pointing a finger or wishing somebody else was here to hear the message. Ask the Lord what He is saying to you. That’s the name of our message, “Examine Yourself.”
Always when a group of people come together there is what I call the mixed multitude. By that I mean there are those who are surrendered to Christ—never perfection; that’s never what we intend to imply, but predictability. People who love that Lord to where if they sin, and we will, that we immediately come and confess and repent of that, embracing the cross, finding our identity in Christ, letting Jesus now be the life in and through us. You’ll find those people whenever the church comes together for public worship.
But in that mixed multitude you’ll find those who have received Jesus but have bought the lie of the world, the flesh, and the devil and they’ve given into it. As a result of that they’re miserable, they’re opinionated, they’re critical, and they just wonder what has robbed their joy. They may even be questioning themselves if they’re even saved when the problem is in their surrender in their whole attitude towards Christ.
In that mixed multitude you’ll also have those who have joined the church and have missed Jesus. I was in the ministry eight years before I came to know Christ. I know how that feels. Living in the garage doesn’t make you a car. Neither does joining the church make you a believer. You don’t join Jesus. You have to be born from above. So you have a mixed multitude.
The key in ministry is to pray that the ones who love Christ get bigger and bigger. But you’re always going to have the mixed multitude to whatever degree. This makes it very difficult when you come to observe something in public worship that is intended only for those who are surrendered to Christ and love Him with all their hearts. It becomes a circus sometimes to try to do what is very sacred when you have people coming who don’t consider anything sacred any more.
You see, worship starts long before you ever come to church. Worship is the attitude of your heart towards God. Praise is the outflow of that. It’s the celebration of that. Obviously the ones who are not surrendered to Christ are made to feel very out of place when they are around people who are there for the right purpose. It can be the other way around, too. Even the people who are there for the right purpose, if they’re outnumbered, can be made to feel out of place.
So you have this enigma in the church of Jesus Christ. Paul warned that there would always be those who’d come to public worship with the hidden loyalties to their flesh. You don’t see it right off but they’re here. They always will be here.
As I studied this I just felt the heartbeat of Paul. It’s just amazing how you just begin to feel as you watch him express himself over and over again. The feeling I get is what I got in 2 Timothy. Look over in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 just for a second. I spent three years studying the book of 2 Timothy word for word. In that study something hit me in the third chapter of 2 Timothy that I want to show you. I think Paul’s heart as he wrote to Timothy is also being expressed the same way right here to the church of Corinth. We see the frustration of a man who’s given his heart to Christ, watching people he thought were receiving the Word, watching people just regurgitate it and live as a total sham to what God wanted them to be.
Second Timothy 3:1-5 says, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self [almost like reading the newspaper, isn’t it?], lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful [I want you to mark the next word], unholy [we’ll come back to it in a minute], unloving.” Do you know what unloving is? Astorgos); a means without, and storgos is that beautiful thing that God has given between a mother and her child. You can be lost and have this. God gave it to all humanity. Are you wondering why we have abortion in this day and time? Because we’re living in the last days. We’re seeing the astorgos. We’re seeing people without that kind of love. We’re living in those days. Verse 3 goes on, “unloving, irreconcilable [you couldn’t reason with them if you tried], malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good [he’s speaking to the church, remember], treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”
How do you know he’s speaking to the church? Verse 5 reads, “holding to a form of godliness”—folks, we can have church as church every Sunday; we can have the organization; we can set up committees and call it a church and have a form of godliness— “although they have denied its power.”
I want you to see that little word in verse 2, the last word. That’s a sermon in those first five verses of 2 Timothy 3. But look in verse 2 at the last word, the word “unholy.” The word is anosios—a, without, and then the word hosios. Hosios has to do with perfect righteousness which cannot come from our flesh. It only can come from faith. It’s that which comes absolutely right out of the nature of God Himself, that which is incorruptible, that which will stand the test of God’s judgment one day.
You can put it in another way. You can say in the last days there will be those within the church who absolutely hold nothing sacred anymore: the Lord’s Supper, times to come together to worship, nothing. Hebrews says, “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together.” But it’s not sacred to anybody anymore. He says that will be there in the last days. Paul was already seeing the beginning of it in Corinth. We’re living in it today.
You may be thinking, “Well, I don’t want to be a divisive person in the body of Christ. I don’t want to be somebody with a hidden loyalty to the flesh who hasn’t manifested itself yet. How can I know if I’m part of the problem or part of the solution?” That’s wonderful, isn’t it? In the Christian life you’re supposed to become part of the solution, not part of the problem. How can I become part of the solution? Well, examine yourself. You don’t examine me and I don’t examine you. We examine ourselves.
So, in thinking about this, first of all Paul gives a command. That’s the first thing he does. Look in verse 27. He says, “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.” Verse 28 goes on, “But let a man examine himself [there’s the command], and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” Those two statements go hand in hand. That’s why I’ve got to go back and do verse 27.
Every time a believer participates in the Lord’s Supper he’s clearly declaring that what the Lord came to do he has fully received and accepted into his life. It’s not the remembrance of the physical body. No, sir; not at all. It was a unique body that Jesus had. It was the sacred body of the Lord Jesus Christ, one that could not in any way corrupt.
Look back in Acts 2. I want to show you something. In Peter’s sermon I want you to see something about the uniqueness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Why it is we celebrate that particular body and that particular blood? What is unique about it? Go back to Acts 2:27. He says, “Because thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow thy holy one [hosios, that same word in Timothy 3], to undergo decay.”
Look down in verse 31: “He looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay.” There’s something unique about this, about the body of Christ. Do you realize that when we are born we begin to decay, we begin to die? Nothing has shocked me any more than the death of a friend, a brother, not even 60 years old. It hit me what James said when he said life is like a vapor. It quickly appears and quickly vanishes away. You get to thinking about things like that, how quickly something like that happens. Why does death have to happen? Because of the sin of Adam we live in bodies that are corruptible. The moment we’re born that body begins to die. Thank God for the promise one day He’ll glorify that body and thank God for the promise that when the body dies, the Christian spirit goes right on to be with the Lord Jesus.
Jesus, when He was born, did not begin the process of decay. Jesus got older, but His body did not decay because there was nothing in it that could cause it to decay. There was no corruptibility to the body. As a matter of fact, on the cross if you’ll study correctly, He didn’t just die, He dismissed His own human spirit on the cross. Nobody could kill Him. He came to die and He chose to die. His body was a unique body. So when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we’re not just celebrating a body, a common body. We’re celebrating the unique body of the Lord Jesus Christ. The whole gospel of Jesus Christ is wrapped around the understanding that it was a unique body.
The term “begotten” refers to His resurrection and how that body was resurrected from the grave. The only begotten Son of God who became flesh, dismissed His spirit and then raised it up again and raised Himself from the grave. Is He God or is He not God? So we have a uniqueness of the body of Christ.
We also have a uniqueness in the blood of Christ. It wasn’t just human blood. It was divinely human blood, a divinely human body and a divinely human blood. Hebrews says He was tempted as we are. Some people say, and I can understand why, if He was tempted then evidently He could have responded to it. No, no. The word “tempted” in Greek does not mean that. The word “tempted” means He was put to the test to see if there was anything in Him that would respond to Satan. Satan continued to put Him to that test. But as John said he found nothing in Him that he could draw out of Him. It was the unique body of Christ. He identified with our suffering in this life, never with our sin. He identified with our sin on the cross. So we must understand the uniqueness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It’s not just like celebrating any old body. This was the unique body born of a virgin there in Bethlehem. And as that body grew it got older but never corrupted. Even on the cross He dismissed His own human spirit. And the blood that flowed through His veins was not just human blood but it was divinely human blood. And that’s why we come to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. That’s what Paul is trying to show them.
Now, it goes on in verse 27 of 1 Corinthians 11, “Therefore whoever eats the bread of drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.” Whoa! The word “unworthy” there is anaxios, a which means without, and axios means worthy, unworthy. You could put it in a little different way and say to celebrate it in an unbecoming way, something that doesn’t measure up to the true worth of the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. To make a mockery out of something that is sacred would fit right here.
“What do you mean? How do I know I’ve partaken of it in an unworthy way?” Let’s look at a contrasting word to the word axios. It’s the word timao. Let me show you the difference. Timao means honor; axios means the intrinsic value of something. It’s worth something. Timao is more than the attributed value. Do you understand the difference in that, intrinsic and attributed? Attributed is what you decide that it’s worth. What it’s worth is what it’s worth. The honor that you may give to something may vary depending on your perspective.
I have an old phone at home. My daddy used to take old phones and make lamps out of them. My father could fix anything, so they would give him these old, old phones. One of the phones that I have is an old phone that you crank, the big box type of phone. It’s got the little speaker thing on it. People are telling me all the time it’s worth about $200. That’s their attributed value. But to me there’s a value to that phone that can’t measure to what you look at. There’s an intrinsic value because it was my daddy’s phone. In fact, he was working on that phone, making a lamp out of it when he died. That means something to me.
So whatever you apply and give honor to may not measure up to what it’s intrinsic value is. So when he says unworthy, he didn’t say “in a dishonorable way”; that would imply something else. He says “in an unworthy manner,” something that you do attributing to that supper that is far less than what it’s intrinsic value really is. The blood and the bread of the Lord Jesus Christ has within itself, by everything that’s accomplished in our life an intrinsic value that can never be changed no matter what man’s perspective of it is. What he says is you’re coming to that intrinsic value that’s here and you’re coming to it in a much subnormal way and you’re not measuring to its intrinsic value. You’re making a sham out of something that is precious and sacred.
For instance, if one comes to the Lord’s Supper and partakes of it in the church, he has a hidden loyalty to his flesh that doesn’t match up with what God’s Word has to say. He has bitterness in his heart. He’s unforgiving to somebody that has treated him wrongly but yet he comes and partakes of the Lord’s Supper, he has partaken in an unworthy manner if he has not dealt with that before the Lord. He’s partaken in an unworthy manner.
Do you realize that when you partake of the Lord’s Supper you are receiving everything Christ has done for you, which was to forgive you as unworthy as you are? Then to turn right around and not forgive your brother? Are you kidding me? There are hidden agendas of the flesh that will not respond to the Word of God that’s within every church in America today, in the world. That’s what he’s talking about. That’s how you partake of the Lord’s Supper unworthily. That’s how you give it an attributed value that’s so far in the gutter from what the intrinsic value is you make a shame out of the very act of sacred worship.
Well, we partake of the Lord’s Supper unworthily when we are unwilling to forgive. Matthew 18:35 says, “You forgive as I have forgiven you, out of the heart.” Then secondly we can partake of the Lord’s Supper unworthily when we do not recognize the intrinsic—there’s that word again—value of the other members of the body of Christ, the other gifts.
We are going to get to 1 Corinthians 12. We really are. When I got into 1 Corinthians, most people got excited, not because of 1 Corinthians, but because they wanted to hear what I was going to say on chapters 12-13. I know that. Hey, it’s all going to come out in chapter 12. Oh yes! But isn’t it interesting that chapter 11 comes before chapter 12? Why? I wonder if that’s a coincidence. Chapter 13 comes before chapter 14. It’s amazing how that works, isn’t it? It’s just amazing. God must know something. It’s going to come out.
In 1 Corinthians 12:14-29 you’re going to find that God has respect for every member of the body of Christ and every clearly defined gift that He has given. When you don’t respect that and it comes out as that, look out. You may be partaking of the Lord’s Supper unworthily because it’s in Christ and we’re one. Not in a gift, not an opinion, not in a doctrine, but in Christ we’re one.
Ephesians 4:3 says that. He says preserve, not produce. You can’t produce it. Preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace. The Spirit already produces unity. It’s already there. So when a person comes to partake of the Lord’s Supper and has an ax to grind against somebody else in the body of Christ, look out! He’s partaking the Lord’s Supper unworthily.
Do you see what I’m doing? I could make a list and we could stay in this list a long time. Paul says, “Don’t take of the Lord’s Supper unworthily, or if you do what happens is you are guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord Jesus.”
So here comes the command. Verse 27 is hinged on verse 28. In verse 28, here comes the command: “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” The word “examine” here is a really key word. He assumes that he’s speaking to believers. The word is dokimazo. It’s in the singular which means each man. In other words, this is that self-examination. It’s in the present tense; let him be continually doing this. Take full responsibility; active voice. And it’s an imperative. It’s a command. Paul says, “I’m going to tell you what to do. Look in a mirror and see if you’re the problem. You make sure you are living as in accordance to what you’re observing in the Lord’s Supper at your church.”
The word “test” means to test in order to prove something. Since it’s singular, it’s individual. There are two words for test. You’ve got to see this. This isn’t the only time Paul in Corinthians, in one of his epistles, says to the believers, “Test yourself.” This one assumes that they’re believers and assumes that since they are believers then they can denote if anything’s wrong in their life and they can deal with it.
There’s another word for “test.” Look over in 2 Corinthians 13:5. He changes the word. I’ll show you the difference in the meaning. These two epistles almost have to be studied together. Somebody asked me, where are we going after 1 Corinthians? I don’t think there’s any doubt. We’ve got to go through 2 Corinthians. It will light your fire, especially in the fourth chapter. You talk about the Christ life, it’s just everywhere there.
Look at 2 Corinthians 13:5. He says, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith.” That word “test” there is the word peirazo. It’s a different word. When the word peirazo is used in Hebrew, it’s a word that means assuming that you’re not something. Dokimazo assumes that you are; peirazo assumes that you’re not. Therefore, in 2 Corinthians he’s saying you better check out and see if you’re a believer. But he’s not saying that in 1 Corinthians 11; he’s assuming that they are.
He’s saying, since you are a believer, you check to see if there’s anything out of kilter in your life. If there’s sin and it’s a hidden agenda of your flesh, make sure you deal with that before you take the Lord’s Supper. So the word peirazo is a little different. So you get encouraged by this. He’s really trying to encourage them. “Hey, guys, you examine yourself.”
Now, all of us at all times are capable of partaking the Lord’s Supper unworthily. I’ll be the first to raise my hand. There have been times I have partaken of it unworthily, because I had things I wouldn’t deal with. I can say that, before it was over with, God dealt with me about that, most of the time.
You see, he uses “if any man.” The word man there is the word anthropos, which means generic man, human being. Just being a human being you automatically know that you’re fallible and, therefore, you can make mistakes. You commit sin. We will. So he says to the believers, who are mere human beings but yet they’re believers, “Before you take the Lord’s Supper, look in a mirror and examine yourself. You don’t want to be the problem. You want to be the solution.”
To strengthen the idea that this is self-examination he says, “But let a man examine himself.” He uses that little reflexive pronoun there, eautou. He says, “You examine yourself.” Paul wants to be sure that each one turns his eyes introspectively, instead of looking at others.
I want to make a statement here that I may be profound. Listen to this. Our attitude towards others affects us more than the attitude of others towards us. I’m going to say that again. You need to hear that. I need to hear that again. My attitude towards others affects me more than other’s attitude toward me. You think about that. You say, “No, man. You don’t know how that person treats me.” No, never in Scripture does God give you the luxury of thinking they’re ever going to treat you the right way, but He commands us to be at peace with our brother. He commands us to deal with our attitude towards them.
You see, this is what he’s trying to tell them. “Let a man examine himself, and then let him take of the Lord’s Supper.” Hey, there could be anything like that in our life at any time. Deal with the bitterness. Deal with the unforgiveness before you partake of that, because flesh does not hold that service sacred. But if you allow the Spirit to speak, then the flesh can be dealt with and then you can see the intrinsic value of why you take of that Lord’s Supper. We must examine ourselves before we partake of communion.
So Paul says, “But let a man examine himself [then he adds], and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” That little phrase “and so” is a connective word. After having examined yourself, now in light of that, take of the bread and take of the cup. That’s the way you partake. So he gives them a command. All of this has to do with examining yourself.
The second thing he does, and the last thing we’ll look at, is he gives them a warning. Look at verse 29, “For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he does not judge the body rightly.” There is a self-incrimination to the person who partakes of the Lord’s Supper without first of all having examined himself. By self-incrimination I mean he accuses himself. He is guilty of something if he has not examined himself. He says, “For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment.” The word “judgment” carries in it the idea of self-incrimination. The word is krima there. It means a crime that is a known crime and is now ready for punishment. That’s what it says. So a person who would come with unforgiveness, a person who would come with bitterness in their heart to partake of the Lord’s Supper, and not having first examined himself, has just declared himself in the court of the church guilty as charged and is now waiting on the consequence God’s going to bring in his life.
Oh, that puts a different light on it, doesn’t it? Here we have a believer who’s harboring unforgiveness and bitterness and opinionated things that only come out of the flesh. He comes in to partake of the Lord’s Supper and will not examine himself. That person has just declared himself guilty and worthy of whatever punishment or consequence that God deals to him. If these fleshly attitudes, these divisive heresies are in his life, he brings upon himself a proven crime, and proven willful crime is always worthy of its own consequence. “For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he does not judge the body rightly.”
Now, the word “judgment” here again, in verse 29, entails punishment that God Himself is going to give out. Now, there’s no way you can blame God. God’s not the one who arbitrarily does it. No, no. It’s because this person is guilty that the consequences are going to come. Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t allow us to judge each other? I’m glad the rod of correction is in the hand of the One who died for us and who gave Himself for us. But there are consequences for these choices that we make, and when our flesh does not treat anything sacred that we do publicly, what happens is, God says there’s going to be a consequence to that and God’s going to make sure that there is. But He’s the one who deals it out.
God doesn’t let us judge anything. He’s the judge. If I owe you $5, you’re going to charge me $7 and charge me interest. God doesn’t do that. If you owe $5, you pay $5. That’s the way God deals. He’s the only one who knows how much is owed. He’s the only one to know how much is done, therefore, He repays righteously and He says there’s going to be a consequence. Isn’t it wonderful to know that although we’re imperfect, because of the blood of Jesus we’re able to sit at the table of the Lord? He takes that into account, that we’re imperfect. But willful sin is going to bear its own consequence.
Again, in verse 29 it says, “For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he does not judge the body rightly.” The word “judge” here is diakrino, which means to draw a line between and say this is this and that is that. He says this man has not judged rightly. He hasn’t judged rightly about what? The body, he has not judged the body rightly. He has not made a clear distinction between something.
You ask, “What body is he talking about?” First of all, it has to be in the context, the body of Christ. But it’s a sacred unique body, a holy body that was given and holy blood that was shed. That’s one, but it opens up another door: My own body and the deeds that come from it have got to be judged and a line drawn. This is this and that is that. But then, thirdly, the body of Christ itself. And if a man comes to the supper having not discerned the differences in the body—and, yes, these are this gift and they are those gifts, and we all fit to make the body of Christ—and if there’s any animosity or any separation there, then what happens is he partakes of the Lord’s Supper unworthily. The word “judge” means to distinguish between that which is different.
A member in our church is from Singapore and his wife is from China. They had a little baby recently. The first time their little boy saw that little baby he said, “Daddy, Mommy, she looks Chinese.” Now, you just have to understand this story. I think in the little boy’s mind he thought that if it was born in America it would look different. But instead he said, “It looks Chinese.” It just looks like its parents.
The word teknon in Scripture is the word “child” that means you bear the image of your father. What’s the image of your father? “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” So when you come to the Supper, you come as one bearing the image of the One you’re celebrating. And if the love for one another is not there, you’ve marred the image, and you’ve held the supper in contempt, and you missed the intrinsic value of what it was all about. He says to look in a mirror. Don’t point at somebody else. Examine yourself.