We closed last week listing some issues in Corinth.
After all those, THEN Paul had to deal with their prejudices against race, status, and cultural differences.
There was a group who refused to eat with the others, as covered in 11:17-34. In verse 22 Paul asks:
"Don't you have your own homes to eat and drink in? Do you despise the body of Christ?" The word translated 'despise' means to despise, scorn, insult. It is from kata (bad, negative) and phroneo, to think with your emotions. In short, an attitude. But their attitude against someone different from them was also an attitude against Christ.
They felt they were better than the others.
They didn't like x people so they justified themselves because they felt that way. Their emotions told them how to make decisions and what attitude to have. Scripture teaches telling our emotions how to think, and to come under control of our will.
Maybe their mama hated x group, that's how they were raised, so they hate them too. Being in Christ and loving those different was a challenge for them.
In that that large international sea port of Corinth, ship and shop owners did not usually mix with those who worked on the docks or ships in the same way Jews never ate with Gentiles*. Yet all 3 sets of people now met in the Roman Justus' house in Acts 18:7-8 to celebrate Jesus. *Galatians 2:12-14
They had to learn to focus on Who they had in common, not on their differences. They had to learn to 'perceive the grace' in each other and 'extend the hand of fellowship', as Peter did to Paul in Galatians 2:9.
In v23-27 Paul writes the often repeated words of Jesus during His Last Supper, and then says this: "Whoever eats this bread and drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, is guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. Therefore let everyone first examine himself before he eats..."
The Greek reads like this:
“He who eats and drinks without discerning the Body (i.e., the Church) in that assembly, eats and drinks a judgment to himself; for if we would discern ourselves we should not be judged.”
"Discern ourselves" means an honest assessment of our hearts. This is not a heaven or hell judgement, but a judgement carried out on the earth because they know the sacrifice the Lord made to forgive them, yet in their hypocrisy they won't forgive others.
Remember, the first level of judgment is to judge ourselves.
When you made Jesus your Lord you judged yourself so you won't suffer a worse judgment. When we admit our sin to the Lord, we judge ourselves. When we apologize to those we wronged, we judge ourselves. Those things we've already judged ourselves on won't be remembered on the day we stand before the Lord.
If we don't, the next level of judgement is to suffer the consequences of our actions. If we don't learn our lesson, we will face the same issue later. God is just, and if we say we know Him, but don't do right, it is right He allows us to experience the consequences of our actions.
In this context, those who held onto their prejudices and refused to judge themselves, remove themselves from the benefits of the Lord's sacrifice. So they open themselves to endure the consequences of prejudice which is a form of unforgiveness. Paul wrote in effect that unforgiveness/prejudice opens ourselves to illnesses and frailty:
"For this reason many are weak and sickly among you, and many have died (early). If we judge (discern) ourselves, we won't be judged. But if we are judged, it is of the Lord so we won't be condemned with the world." v29-31
Immune system compromised?
Both words translated 'weak' and 'sickly' mean frail, weak, fragile health, infirmed. Paul directly links their prejudice to their weakened 'immune system', or a general tendency to be sick. He said it is because when you receive the Lord's Supper with prejudice in your heart, you become guilty by refusing to forgive as Christ forgave you, so your life is in your own hands. In short, you are judged because you refused to judge yourself.
It's that simple. People want a 'warm and fuzzy' Jesus, but the reality is as taught throughout the letters in the New Testament, that the Lord renders to man what is right. It isn't a game. I've found people who forgive quickly or who don't even hold onto offense, rarely even get colds. (All things being equal - if you've got kids, they are notorious for contaminating each other so a cold doesn't mean someone has issues of the heart - just using Corinth as an example).
What happens if we carry those prejudices with us to our grave?
Paul had described it earlier to them, in I Corinthians 3:1-15. He addressed their strifes and divisions, saying it was wood, hay, and stubble that if carried into death, would be burned away when they stood before the Lord. But they would be saved he said, but as someone who had come through a fire whose possession had all been burned up.
He advised them to repent, make it right, lay aside divisions and strifes, and thereby gaining the victory over their immaturity and emotional reasoning. Those victories would be as gold, silver, and precious stones before the Lord.
Receive healing when receiving the Lord's Supper
We aren't expected to examine our whole life for any tiny little thing wrong in our heart, for the issues with the Corinthians were public knowledge and known to the whole body of Christ there. In I John 3:20 he wrote that if our heart 'condemns' us, God is greater than our heart. The Greek word condemn is made of 'kata', which is 'against', and 'gnosis' which means 'to know'. In other words, you don't go searching for something you think God may be 'mad at you' about, if He wants you to deal with something, He will let you know - you'll know it without digging your memory and life experiences to find something.
For those who get their heart right, to make sure they hold no unforgiveness, remembering the Lord's sacrifice for them and for all around them, they can receive healing while receiving the Lord's Supper. We properly discern the Lord's body as in the body of Christ, and we discern 'by His stripes we are healed' as well.
About 1980 I first heard a minister mention healing when receiving the Lord's Supper, and so later when I had a cold I tested it - ah, the folly of youth! (I was about 22 at the time and had only known the Lord about 6 years). It was perfect timing. I had gotten a cold complete with sniffles and light cough, and remembered what that minister said. After making sure I held no unforgiveness, attitudes or prejudices, I then remembered 'by His stripes I was healed', and received the Lord's Supper. By that afternoon my cold was gone. Yippee!
This isn't a formula, but to me it proved the passage we've been studying. That receiving the Lord's Supper is a serious act on our part. It causes us to lay aside the distractions of life, the baggage of life, the burden of the past week, to refocus on His sacrifice and therefore our love for those around us who also walk with Him.
Books and books have been written about the subject, but I hope this has been a blessing. New subject next week. until then, blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org