Does the Bible really teach us to examine ourselves? I know many people think it does, but what do you say we look at this subject a little bit closer?
I have heard from several that the Bible tells us to examine ourselves before we partake of the Lord’s Supper. While it is true the scripture found in 1 Corinthians 11:28 tells us “let a man examine himself…” What is it he is actually called to examine? I would say it isn’t to see if there is any sin in his life that might hinder his pursuit of holiness. Rather it is an examining in order to make sure he is remembering the Lord’s body. If you read a little further you will discover in 1 Corinthians 11:29, “For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the BODY rightly.”
The best I can tell from commentaries I have read the Corinthians were in the habit of having big dinners together. Some of them would actually get drunk during these feasts and then they would partake of the Lord’s Supper. I believe what Paul is telling them is to stop taking the Lord’s Supper without recognizing what it is all about. They were apparently just going through the motions and it wasn’t given the attention it deserved. The point for us is to not take the Lord’s sacrifice in vain.
Let me back up for just a minute. Do you remember what Jesus told his disciples the night he had communion with them? He told them in Luke 22:19 “do this in remembrance of me.” You see we are told by Jesus himself communion is about remembering Jesus not our sins or failures.
In fact throughout the Old Covenant the animal sacrifices were meant to remind us of sins and could never remove them. Now though, through the blood of Jesus Christ, we in the New Covenant are told by God “I will remember their sins no more.” So when we come together to celebrate communion it really isn’t about sins at all rather it is about what Jesus Christ has done in order to free us from them. Now that is a reason to celebrate!
The only other time I know of in the New Covenant we are told to “examine ourselves” is found in 2 Corinthians 13:5 where we read “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” What Paul is saying here has to do with the larger context of the letter. Apparently there was no shortage of people that were looking to discredit Paul’s authority as an Apostle. So what Paul is saying here is check yourself and see if you are in the faith and if so that proves I’m sent from God. Paul was the one that shared the gospel with them and since they were saved it proves his authority as an Apostle.
One last thought on this subject is found in 1 Corinthians 4:1-5. There we read where Paul didn’t even examine himself as far as his spiritual condition was concerned he said, “But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.” So he says just wait for the Lord he will bring to light what needs to be seen.
Now there is a need for examination but it is only by way of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps that will be for another time.