A Heart Examination

Saturday, December 31, 2016, 11:30 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 10:14-22; 11:23-32 (ESV).

Flee Idolatry (10:14-22)

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

What is idolatry? It is idol (false god) worship. What is an idol? It is an object (image) of worship; a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered (Google); an object of extreme devotion (M-W). And, what is worship? It is adoration, respect, commitment, loyalty, dedication, fidelity, faithfulness and zeal (etc.) for the object of the worship.

The Bible says that when we give our lives to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, that is our reasonable or acceptable worship of God (Ro. 12:1-2). So, idol worship may also be giving of our lives (emotion, passion, heart, fidelity, commitment, etc.) sacrificially to someone or something, usually in place of God or in greater intensity and commitment than we give to God, and/or in a manner in which only God should be the recipient. As well, a false (fake) god may be something or someone who presents himself (or is presented) as equal or as superior to the one true God, such as Santa Claus, for instance, or (who) which is opposed to God.

If you live in America, have you ever given thought to what it means when you pledge allegiance to the American flag, with hand over heart? Well, it means that you vow fidelity, faithfulness, loyalty and commitment (i.e. worship) to an image (the flag; idol) and to the republic (the government) for which it stands. And, what does your heart represent? It is the center of your being; your spirit; “one’s innermost character, feelings, or inclinations” (M-W). And, what does the Bible say about our hearts? It is in our hearts that we believe in Jesus Christ or we reject him. Jesus came to purify our hearts. And, he has given us the Holy Spirit to live in our hearts. We are also to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Lu. 10:27). So, how can we, in good conscience, vow our worship (fidelity) and give our hearts in devotion to a human government, when God’s Spirit lives within our hearts?

Why should we not give our worship to idols? Because, by faith in Jesus Christ, we participate in the blood and body of Christ, which was given to us in death on a cross so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. We can’t give our hearts, fidelity, loyalty and commitment to what is evil, i.e. to what stands in opposition to our Christian faith, such as the US government, because we have died with Christ to sin that we might live to him and to his righteousness. The two are opposed to each other. They can’t mix. The US government wants us to reject our faith in Christ in favor of unity with people of all religions and all walks of life (all lifestyles). They want us to get rid of all which divides us, but the gospel divides us saved and unsaved. So, they want us to reject the gospel in favor of a one-world religion. Yet, if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness (sin, wickedness, idolatry), we are liars, and we do not live by the truth (1 Jn. 1:6).

In Remembrance (11:23-26)

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.

Jesus asked that we remember him in what we call communion, where we symbolically participate with Christ in his death on a cross via the taking of the juice of the vine and of the bread, representing his blood and body respectively. As we participate in this symbolic act, we are to remember what he did for us in dying for our sins so that we might be delivered out of slavery to sin and so we might become servants of his righteousness. Yet, I believe this goes beyond a mere symbolic act, but it touches on how we live our lives every day. Do we die with Christ to sin and live to him and to his righteousness daily? Then, daily we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes, not just in words, or in symbols, but in how we live our lives.

A Worthy Manner (11:27-32)

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.

Since the eating of the bread and the drinking of the cup is not merely a symbolic act, but the actual participation with Christ in death to sin and in living to righteousness, via the Holy Spirit, we are to do neither in an unworthy manner. What would be an unworthy manner? I believe it would be to willfully hold on to known sin in our lives while we claim to be in Christ and dead to sin and living to his righteousness, i.e. while we claim faith in Jesus Christ and salvation from sin via Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is a slap in the face to Jesus Christ when we claim to know him yet think we can continue in sin because of God’s grace to us. “We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Ro. 6:2). “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin” (Ro. 6:6-7).

So, we need to examine our hearts, not just before we take communion, but every day, because every day we are to die to sin and live to righteousness. Every day we are to walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to our sinful flesh, not just when we are participating in a symbolic act in the taking of communion. If we claim that we participate in the body of Christ, and we claim we are saved from sin, and that we have the promise of heaven when we die, yet we continue in sinful lifestyles, the Bible says we will die in our sins, and that we won’t have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14).

If we truly are saved from our sins, but we are holding on to known sin in our lives, and then we take communion, we are doing so in an unworthy manner. Likewise, if we go about our lives every day professing Christ as our Savior from sin, but we hold on to known sin, we also do so in an unworthy manner, because we know we are not living what we say we believe. So, we need to judge (examine) ourselves so we don’t fall under God’s judgment (or divine correction). Are we partaking of the table of the Lord and the table of demons, too? Then, we should repent of our sin and turn to follow our Lord Jesus in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives.

My Jesus, I Love Thee
William R. Featherstone / Adoniram J. Gordon

My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
For thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight;
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

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