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Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Master [Lord], we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. [1]

1 Co 11:28–32

Why this is important: We need to take heed and exam ourselves. It isn’t acceptable to just keep moving on and winging it when it comes to our faith. First Corinthians is a corrective and instructive letter from Paul to the church in Corinth.

One of the issues Paul addresses is the way the people were taking communion. Often a “love feast,” or fellowship meal, would accompany communion, meaning communion was more of an “event” than it is in many churches today.

How important is self-examination? Paul indicates that some were gorging at the feast while others were left hungry. Some were even getting drunk. The people were not waiting for one another, nor were they appropriately sharing provisions—they ate the food they brought themselves, and, if someone couldn’t bring much, he did without. Separation between rich and poor was evident.

Paul did not say that we had to be worthy to partake of the Supper, but only that we should partake in a worthy manner. At a Communion service in Scotland, the pastor noted that a woman in the congregation did not accept the bread and cup from the elder, but instead sat weeping. The pastor left the table, went to her side, and said, “Take it, my dear, it’s for sinners!” And, indeed, it is but sinners saved by God’s grace must not treat the Supper in a sinful manner.

If we are to participate in a worthy manner, we must examine our own hearts, judge our sins, and confess them to the Lord.

  • To come to the table with unconfessed sin in our lives is to be guilty of the Messiah’s body and blood, for it was sin that nailed Him to the cross.
  • If we will not judge our own sins, then God will judge us and chasten us until we do confess and forsake our sins.

The Corinthians neglected to examine themselves, but they were experts at examining everybody else. When the church gathers, we must be careful not to become “religious detectives” who watch others, but who fail to acknowledge our own sins. If we eat and drink in an unworthy manner, we eat and drink judgment (chastening) to ourselves, and that is nothing to take lightly.

Chastening is God’s loving way of dealing with His sons and daughters to encourage them to mature. It is not a judge condemning a criminal, but a loving Father punishing His disobedient (and perhaps stubborn) children. Chastening proves God’s love for us, and chastening can, if we cooperate, perfect God’s life in us.[2]

Good news: As these many scriptures show, we can count on God to help us as we examine ourselves. Self-examination starts with God-examination.

  • 2 Corinthians 13:5 (NASB) — Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus the Messiah is in you — unless indeed you fail the test?
  • Psalm 26:2 — 2 Examine me, O the Messiah, and try me; Test my mind and my heart.
  • Job 7:17–18 — 17 “What is man that You magnify him, And that You are concerned about him, 18 That You examine him every morning And try him every moment?
  • Job 13:9 — 9 “Will it be well when He examines you? Or will you deceive Him as one deceives a man?
  • Job 13:23 — 23 “How many are my iniquities and sins? Make known to me my rebellion and my sin.
  • Psalm 11:4–5 — 4 Yahweh is in His holy temple; Yahweh’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. Yahweh tests the righteous and the wicked, And the one who loves violence His soul hates.
  • Psalm 139:23–24 — 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; 24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.
  • Proverbs 5:21 —For the ways of a man are before the eyes of Yahweh, And He watches all his paths.
  • Jeremiah 17:10 — 10 “I, Yahweh, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.
  • Jeremiah 20:12 — 12 Yet, Yahweh of hosts, You who test the righteous, Who see the mind and the heart; Let me see Your vengeance on them; For to You I have set forth my cause.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Co 11:28–32). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 606). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.