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. (1 Corinthians 11:27)
Guilty Of The Body And The Blood
The Corinthian church was in a spiritual conflict. Division filled the hearts of the saints, immorality was condoned, authority was being abused, and a concern for how the church was remembering the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ filled the pages of the apostle’s letter. After Paul addressed the conflict of authority in the church, he rebuked the brethren for their lack of consideration for the communion of Christ. He reminded them of when Jesus instituted the supper as a memorial of His sacrifice and the admonition to reflect upon the eternal nature of the feasts. Sadly, early in the church’s infancy, the Lord’s Supper had become a common meal with little or no regard for the worship of remembrance.
One of the strongest languages used about the importance of the Lord’s Supper is found in the Corinthian letter. The church had not come together for the good but the worse. They should have been ashamed of their conduct, but they were not. After reminding them of the pattern of the institution, Paul makes very clear the consequence of their rebellion. Taking the communion in an unworthy manner brings guilt before the throne of God. Paul does not suggest any man is worthy of the sacrifice of Christ in the eternal sense. No one can stand worthy of God’s love. His point about worthiness is the attitude of heart that accompanies the communion. The Lord does not look on the outside but on the heart of a man. Taking the supper of the Lord is a matter of the spiritual yearning for the blessing of God.
There is a need to open the heart and examine one’s life when the supper of Christ is given. This moment in the worship of God’s people is central to the purpose and design of salvation. The Feast of the Passover was not a time for the Hebrews to eat some bitter herbs, unleavened bread, and drink the fruit of the vine. It was a time of contemplation on the memory of what it cost to deliver the people from bondage. The Egyptians suffered terrible losses with the death of every firstborn among men and cattle. Untold thousands of lives were sacrificed that night to atone the deliverance of God’s people. During the Feast of the Passover, God wanted the Hebrews to remember the price paid by the Egyptians to free them. The sacrifice of the Egyptians is nothing compared to the cost of God’s only begotten Son being offered as a sacrifice for the sins of every man. Jesus was the sinless Son of God who gave His blood to redeem every man.
One of the New Testament church pillars is to remember what it cost God to save mankind. He demands His people assemble together on the first day of the week and remember the Father’s love in giving His Son as a sacrifice for sin. Taking the Lord’s Supper in a frivolous, uncaring, and unloving way brings shame upon the name of Jesus Christ, counts the blood of the covenant by which all men are set apart as common and unholy, and insults and disdains the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to all men. The warning of Paul reminds those who gather for the communion to be very aware of what they are doing. This was not the case at Corinth, and it was sinful.
A final observation about the warning by Paul is that he challenges the Corinthians to consider themselves and examine themselves when they take of the supper. It has always been a problem in the church of the Lord for some of God’s people to take a casual view about assembling with the saints. There are untold reasons people decide to miss “church services” for work, recreation, laziness, and lack of faith. The problem comes from the misguided notion that church attendance is not required on Sunday. That is incorrect. What is required is for the child of God to assemble with the body of saints to take of the Lord’s Supper (among other things). It should also be noted the Lord’s Supper is the only worship that specifically has penalties attached to it by abusing the supper. There are suggested penalties attached to the other but nothing as clear as the supper. If a man is challenged when present to the manner he takes of the supper, what kind of view does God have of those who are unwilling to assemble with the saints? The Lord’s Supper is something that requires coming together. It cannot be done through a proxy. It requires assembling. When a man does not take of the supper in a worthy manner, he is guilty of the body and the blood of Jesus Christ. If a man chooses not to assemble with the saints, will his guilt not be greater?