I Corinthians 11:27 says, “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.”
If we are honest, there is a sense in which we will always be unworthy to be objects of God’s grace. The one who feels unworthy is the one person whose posture is in the right place for the Lord’s Supper. We are never 100% perfectly righteous.
But, the warning here from Paul is about knowingly participating in the Lord’s Supper when there you are not spiritual ready to do so. Let me give you just two categorical answers to that question:
- We can take the Lord’s Supper “unworthily” when we fail to engage mentally. The Lord’s Supper is to be a time filled with meditating, pondering, and remembering. So, if we are not engaged at all mentally on Jesus Christ, we are not even doing what he commanded – “in remembrance of Me.” When we do this, we come to the Lord’s Supper with an attitude of indifference and communicating to God that it means very little to us what He did on our behalf. One of the ways you know this is happening is if see yourself just going through the motions and not allowing any of your emotions come to the forefront. We never want to come to His table like the Corinthians who were looked at it with too much triviality. Their gluttony and drunkenness was the byproduct of not being mentally engaged even in activities leading up to it. Perhaps setting aside time on a Saturday night or Sunday morning before you come and read through the account of the crucifixion or other selected passages in the N.T. would help combat having a mental vacation during the Lord’s Supper or a book like The Passion of Jesus Christ by John Piper.
- We can take the Lord’s Supper “unworthily” when we come unreconciled with another believer. The Lord’s Supper is a place for commonness and for illustrating fellowship with the body of Christ. Jesus went as far to say that in any context of worship, keep this mind: “23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24). It’s quite simple – if you have an issue of sin needing to be reconciled with another believer, deal with it before you take the bread and cup. Give them a call on Saturday night or Sunday morning if you need to. If it is something where you are responsibility to own up to the sin, then the responsibility is on you to deal with it. Before you remember Christ’s reconciling you and God, do what needs to be done to bring about reconciliation between you and another.
When someone takes the Lord’s Supper’ unworthily, he is “guilty … of the body and blood.” It’s like tramping on a flag – a symbolic way of mocking what Christ did and being indifferent towards it.
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