Self-examination before the Lord’s Supper
Every year I have a medical checkup. But do you know about the weekly checkup?
The best description of the Lord’s Supper is in 1 Corinthians 11. It gives two reasons for celebrating it. The first reason was to remember what Jesus has done for us. The second reason is to “proclaim the Lord’s death”. As we partake of the bread and wine, we are declaring the importance of the Lord’s death. That Christ’s death on our behalf provides eternal forgiveness of our sin.
And we are to carry out this remembrance and proclamation “until He (Jesus) comes” again and believers will be with the Lord forever.
Next there is a warning about how not to celebrate the Lord’s Supper – “whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord” (v.27). The reason the Lord’s Supper is mentioned in this letter is because of the unworthy manner that it was being celebrated in Corinth.
Then there is a command, “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup” (v.28). The verb “examine” (dokimazo, Strongs #1381) means to prove something by testing it. Is it genuine or fake? Earlier in this letter this word is used to say that in the future God “will test the quality of each person’s work” (1 Cor. 3:13). And it is used later in this letter when men approved by the local church in Corinth as having integrity were to take their gifts to the church in Jerusalem (1 Cor. 16:3).
At Corinth they were selfish and greedy and the rich discriminated against the poor (v.18-22). Because of these sins many were under God’s fatherly discipline – there was weakness and sickness and some had died early (v.30). Sin grieves the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:29-3). The self-examination being asked for here was to reveal their sins and to repent by saying, “Lord, I’m sorry; I have sinned. Please forgive me. I must not act this way because it displeases You”. Christians are to judge themselves and stop sinning. If they didn’t judge themselves, then God would judge them as a father disciplines their child.
In preparation for the Lord’s Supper it is essential that we examine ourselves. This is a command from the Lord. It’s like a weekly stocktake. A spiritual audit. A checkup. A self-examination. A self-evaluation. Or a “sin inspection”. Look at our thoughts, attitudes and behavior. When have we failed to love and obey the Lord? When have we failed to love our neighbor or Christian brother and sister? Look for sins of commission and sins of omission. Are we seeking to please God more than anything else? (6:33).
We need to confess and repent of the sins that come up. Forgive others and seek forgiveness from others. On the cross Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for them do not know what they are doing” (Lk. 23:34). We need to get right with God and get right with one another. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are accountable to God.
When we do this our fellowship with the Lord is restored. 1 Jn.1:9, which was written to believers, says “If we confess our sins, He [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”. In order to maintain fellowship with God, sin is to be confessed and forsaken. There can be no hiding of sin.
Father, we thank you for sending Jesus to die so that our sins might be put away forever. We share the emblems together in remembrance of His death and resurrection. Declaring that it provides eternal forgiveness of our sin. Help us to examine ourselves regularly and continue to confess our sins to receive your temporal forgiveness that restores our fellowship with you on a regular basis. So, we offer thanks and praise for all that you have done through Jesus. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Written, June 2022
Also see: The original context of the Lord’s Supper
Synonyms of the Lord’s Supper
The Lord’s Supper is a memorial, not a transubstaniation
The command to keep the Lord’s Supper
The Lord’s Supper – a visible sermon
The Lord’s Supper – until Jesus returns
A warning about the Lord’s Supper
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