I grew up in a legalistic Church & under various legalistic Pastors, who taught Holy Communion as a set of legalistic ritual that must be observed with a certain rules & regulations. For example: Conducted only once a month on certain day of the month, must be conducted by legally ordained pastor, and before partaking, everyone must first examine their sins inwardly, “EXAMINE your heart!”, “try to remember every sin you’d committed and then repent & ask for forgiveness”, only then you are worthy to partake; otherwise it would bring damnation upon yourself. So, every time after I examined my heart from sins that I’d tried to forget, after I tried to remember my ugly sins, I would come to a stage of disgust with myself, feeling condemned already, and there is no more heart to partake the Holy Communion. Also, I’d rather be safe than sorry, I’d rather not partake, lest I had forgotten one sin un-confessed? Lest it would bring damnation upon myself? So, Holy Communion had become a curse instead of a blessing to many Christians.
When I first became a Pastor and had to minister the Holy Communion, I felt something is wrong with these rules which had been passed down from generation to generation by their forefathers. Because, I could not find those rules written in the bible, Pastors were merely following the rules passed down by their senior pastors. Thus, I searched for those answers which finally led me to see the true meaning of Holy Communion.
Before Jesus walked to the cross, He gathered all His dear disciples in the Last Supper, and told them about Holy Communion. It must be very important as far as Jesus is concerned, to have revealed such at the point of His last hours. Imagine if you know you are going to die the very next day, what would you do before you departed this earth for good? I believe, you will gather all your children to tell them the most important thing in your heart & mind including all the secret of your hidden treasures and your access passwords so that your children can have them.
Likewise, Jesus was doing the same in the Last Supper. Jesus told them the secret of heavenly blessings that will keep His disciples strong, healthy, and live long, to have the body like Jesus, who was never sick and never subject to stress, always in peace & Joy; so that they could continue His ministry well and glorify God.
This erroneous teaching about “Examine yourself”, is largely due to a misinterpretation of the following verse:
1Co 11:27 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.
1Co 11:28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
1Co 11:29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
To understand the meaning of the word, we have to understand the whole context of Paul’s statement. He was addressing the issue of eating and drinking unworthily. It is the manner of eating & drinking of the church in Corinth who came to the Lord’s table with drinking wine excessively, getting drunk, and some came to fill up their hungry stomach with the holy communion’s bread; and this is what Paul was addressing; Not the person’s sins (he did not say: “unworthy person”). To ask a person to examine his sins, is actually saying the person is unworthy. But, not what the verse is saying.
We are all unworthy people who come to partake the Holy Communion, and we should remember that we have been made worthy only by His blood not by the confessions of our sins. It is only Jesus’ death that qualifies us to partake. So, Paul was not saying that we should not partake if we have sins in our life (we are unworthy). He was saying we should not partake in an unworthy manner (the manner, the action of eating & drinking). And, verse 29 clearly stated how to partake worthily? “by discerning the Lord’s body”. You must recognize that the broken body of Jesus was meant to bring us health & wholeness, and through the bread in your hand you can achieve this. (see my previous article on the same subject, part 1. https://liftingjesus.org/2014/10/10/holy-communion-in-the-new-covenant-of-grace/).
Looking at the passage again, it is clear that the word “examine himself” is to see if the person is eating and drinking worthily, so as not to eat and drink judgment into himself (the judgment is already prevalent in this world, part of the curse of this fallen world because of Adam’s original sin). The Holy Communion is supposed to reverse this curse for the believers, every time they partake.
God is a good daddy, He does not want us to be Sin-Conscious, He wants us to be Son-Conscious. He just wants us to examine ourselves to see if we are putting our Faith in His Son’s work on the cross for our goods. Holy Communion is the great expression of God’s love, and it is one of the most important blessings that every believer can have as merciful inheritance from Lord Jesus. Jesus does not want us to walk alone on this earth, He not only has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us, He also left us with Heavenly blessing of Holy Communion to make our body & soul healthy and strong and live long, while we are on earth waiting to meet Him again. Thank you Jesus.