You hear often our leaders explain that we should prepare our hearts before coming to the Lord’s table. Do you understand what that means? Do you know how to prepare your heart? I want to give you a bit of help on that. Please pay close attention to this since the Bible tells us this is of the highest importance for the church.
First, here’s what we see in God’s word. It’s the command, “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Corinthians 11:28). Church members are commanded to do the important work of examining themselves before they eat the bread and drink the cup.
Second, we are told by Paul that some church members in the Corinth church were not obeying that command. Instead they were eating and drinking the communion elements “in an unworthy manner” (1 Corinthians 11:27). “Unworthy” did not mean they were not worthy people. No one is worthy of the body of Jesus. Rather, it was the “manner” in which they ate the Lord’s supper that was unworthy. It was unworthy because those people were not examining themselves and confessing their sins as commanded in the Bible.
Third, we are eyes-wide-open fearful of the warning Paul gives. Eating the Lord’s supper in an “unworthy manner” makes one “guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.” Oh my! What does that mean? Paul goes on to say the person with this guilt “eats and drinks judgment on himself.” (1 Corinthians 11:29). And Paul goes on to add that doing this has caused some of those people to become “weak and ill” and even that “some have died.” Yes, this is that serious. So take heed!
So, church member, please be careful to take these biblical commands seriously. And in case you don’t know how, here’s some help.
For starters, the only ones who should eat the bread and drink the cup are born again believers; those truly converted. That means people who have not been born again should not eat and drink. They should sit it out, watch and learn. Parents, your close attention is needed here. Until such a time that your children become converted you should not allow them to eat and drink. Has your child been baptized because they have repented of their sins and are trusting fully in Jesus to save them? If so they may eat and drink. If not, they shouldn’t. Here’s a good rule of thumb. Have your church leaders agreed that your child is ready for baptism? If so then they are also ready for communion. If not, instruct them to wait.
But there’s more for those who do eat and drink. The very most basic meaning of examining one’s self is this. Examine yourself in search of any sin that you have not confessed and repented of. Is there sin of any kind? Is there any conflict between you and your spouse? Is there conflict between you and any other believer? Is there sin or conflict between you and another church member? Yield yourself to the Holy Spirit’s conviction so that your eyes can be opened to see any of these things.
When any of these things are pointed out to you by the Holy Spirit, take action. Don’t just sit out on communion for the rest of your life because you don’t want to get it wrong. Take action and deal with the sin. First, confess the sin to God asking for His cleansing. Then, thank Him for His promised forgiveness. If the sin involves another person then you should also go confess the sin to him or her. Or if someone has confessed their sin to you go voice to them your forgiveness. If there is some sort of restitution that should be made take that step as well.
Then go to the Lord’s table to eat and drink giving Jesus praise for His cleansing from sin and His life now pulsing in your veins.
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. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17