27 “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”
Whenever we see a “therefore,” we look to see what it is there for. “Therefore” summarizes the previous discussion about abusing the Lord’s Supper by establishing a hierarchy among believers by not sharing food with those gathered at the church meeting.
whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
The term “unworthy” carries the idea of improper manner. Some Corinthians treated the Lord’s Supper as a common meal without recognizing the elements for their proper value. The idea here is not to become worthy of the Lord’s Supper, for none of us can ever be worthy of it. The issue is manner, not worth. We are worthy of hell, however. We are not worthy of heaven nor of the Lord’s Supper.
The word “guilt” is a legal term denoting liability, deserving of, bound by a charge. This believer is liable to the penal effect of a deed. Treating elements of the Lord’s Supper in an improper manner by divisiveness and selfishness necessitates liability toward the body and blood. It is a serious offense before the Lord.
But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
A Christian is to “examine” himself to determine whether he is partaking of the elements of the Lord’s Supper unworthily. The word “examine” means to test for approval. We are to prove by a test whether we are in a right place to take the Lord’s Supper. The test has to do with partaking of the Supper in an improper manner. In context, the Corinthians were partaking unworthily by treating fellow Christians poorly.
Notice the word “himself.” We are not to examine others or the person down the pew but ourselves. We are very good at analyzing others. If they are off base, it is God’s business to deal with them.
2 Co 13: 5Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.
Radical honesty is essential for a dynamic fellowship with the Lord.
Each believer needs regular self-examination before partaking of the Lord’s Supper. It is difficult to be objective with ourselves. We are to be radically honest about sin in our lives. This will prevent us from coming to the Lord’s Supper mechanically, ritually, and without dynamic. To function as if the body and blood of Christ means little to us would make the Lord’s Supper perfunctory and meaningless.
Ps 51: 17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.
As born-again people it is our privilege to sit at the Lord’s Supper, but not until we comply with verse 28 – examining and confessing our sins. It is a matter of getting right with the Lord. We need to identify irregularities and inconsistencies in our lives. Confession is agreement with what happened to our sin on the cross. Christ bore our sin sufficiently so that we do not have to bear it personally. This is far more than feeling sorry for our sin. Sorrow for sin can be a subtle way of paying for sin ourselves. This displaces what Christ did on the cross and is an act of unbelief. The Christian way is to go back to where Jesus judged our sins on the cross. God judged our sins already and we agree that God did it on the cross.
Long-lasting, undue introspection is not the point. That will produce perpetual misery. Periodically, we scrutinize ourselves to see if we need to address anything. Businesses do not take inventory every day, but occasionally they do. The believer takes inventory at the Lord’s Supper. It is a time to take stock. It is not a time to absent ourselves from the Lord’s Table.