Tuesday, May 17, 2016, 5:24 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus Paid It All.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 11:17-32 (ESV).
Divisions Among You (vv. 17-19)
But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.
When we come to faith in Jesus Christ we do not immediately reach sinless perfection. Yes, we died with Christ to sin, and we were resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). Yes, we are called to be holy, which means to be set apart from (different, unlike) the world because we are becoming like Jesus. Yes, the very reason Jesus died on the cross for our sins was that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. And, yes, the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but who conduct our lives according to the Spirit (Ro. 8). Yet, we are still in flesh bodies, and thus we still have the propensity to sin (1 Jn. 2:1). Yet, this fact should never be used as an excuse for continued willful sin against God, for if we continue to walk in darkness (sin), we don’t really know God, and he does not know us.
In other words, not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” is truly one of his. And, these types of divisions have a way of showing which of us have God’s approval, and which of us do not. It is not that we gain acceptance with God through our own works of the flesh, though, but that true faith in Jesus Christ is evidenced by how we live our lives, whether we live completely for ourselves without regard for God and others, or whether we live for God, not perfectly, but consistently seeking his face and doing what his word teaches us – all in the power of the Spirit now working within us. If we truly have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we have been resurrected with Christ in newness of life (Ro. 6), then our lives (lifestyles) should bear evidence that this is true. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we continue to walk in darkness, we are liars. The truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:6).
The Lord’s Supper (vv. 20-22)
When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.
Now, to the matter of taking communion, the situation presented here may seem a little foreign to most of us, at least here in America. Most evangelical churches I have known use very small portions of grape juice (unfermented) to represent Jesus’ blood, and very small pieces of crackers or wafers to represent his body. And, everyone is served (mostly) equal portions. I think this is done similarly in most formal churches, as well, only they may use real wine, but still in very small portions. At least, this has been my experience here in America. So, it is difficult for me to identify with this situation presented to us here.
Yet, I believe there is a lesson we can learn from this. I believe this all comes down to our attitudes toward worship of God and service to one another when we meet together. Are we self-serving? Or, are we the Lord’s servants and fellow-servants with our brothers and sisters in Christ? Do we participate together in worship of God/Jesus for what we can get out of it, or do we truly consider the meaning behind what we are doing, and how that should make a difference in our lives and in how we treat one another? In other words, when we drink the juice (wine) and we eat the bread (crackers), are we thankful for what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins? And, do we consider that he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness? Do we take this opportunity of remembrance of our Lord, then, to consider how what he did for us should change our lives and how we live?
In Remembrance (vv. 23-32)
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 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 Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
As far as I know, there is only one directive in scripture as to how our Lord Jesus should be remembered ceremoniously. He asks that we participate in the symbolic observance of the taking of the bread and the wine (or grape juice) in remembrance of his body and blood, which were given for us on a cross in order that we might be delivered from the curse of sin and slavery to sin, and so that we might have eternal life with God. Yet, this is not to be a mere ritual that we go through periodically as a religious activity. This is to be a time of solemn remembrance and thankfulness for what he did for us in dying for our sins so that we might be set free from bondage to sin and might be given new lives in Christ Jesus, our Lord. And, it should be a time of solemn reflection over our lives, a time of confession and repentance, and a time of recommitment of our lives to our Lord to walk in his ways, and to obey him in all things and in all ways.
If we are not walking in obedience to our Lord, and we know there is unconfessed sin in our hearts, I believe this scripture says we should not participate in the taking of the bread and the drink, as we would be guilty of taking it in an unworthy manner. Instead, before we go into this time of communion in remembrance of our Lord Jesus, we should examine our own hearts and lives, and we should humbly and sincerely confess and repent of any known sin in our lives, and we should submit ourselves to Christ and to the cross in surrender to the Lord’s will for our lives, and then determine to live our lives pleasing to our Lord in the power and working of the Spirit of God within us. We must remember that Jesus did not die merely so we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died to deliver us from slavery to sin, so we should walk in his Spirit and we should no longer live to gratify the desires of our sinful flesh. Amen!
Jesus Paid It All / Elvina M. Hall / John T. Grape
… your sins… they shall be as white as snow… Isaiah 1:18
I hear the Savior say, “Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray, Find in Me thine all in all.”
For nothing good have I whereby Thy grace to claim,
I’ll wash my garments white in the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.
And now complete in Him my robe His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side, I am divinely blest.
Lord, now indeed I find Thy power and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots and melt the heart of stone.
When from my dying bed my ransomed soul shall rise,
“Jesus died my soul to save,” shall rend the vaulted skies.
And when before the throne I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my trophies down all down at Jesus’ feet.
Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.