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Oct 10 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

October 10, 2021



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. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world 1 Corinthians 11:23-32

Intro: Most of us, when reading Bible, will get lost on occasion

When that happens, we can stop and ask two questions:
– “Where am I?” and “What is going on here?”
• “Where am I?” is the big picture question – it takes us to the central theme of book
◦ you look at the whole map, then locate a general area on it
• “What is going on here?” is the here and now question
◦ if book were a wheel, “where” is the hub and “what” is a specific point on the rim
◦ this is sometimes called the “hermeneutical circle”
(and we keep moving back and forth on it, hub to rim and rim to hub; general theme to specific points and specific points back to the general theme)
– so where are we? In chapter 11, Paul moves to the next issue he needs to address
• the overall topic in next four chapters is their Christian meetings
◦ Paul writes “when you come together” repeatedly – vv. 17, 18, 20, 33; 14:26
• in this chapter, he gives his approval and disapproval
◦ v. 2, “Now I commend you,” and in v. 17, “I do not commend you”
◦ I read from the second section – the disapproval section

Paul reiterates the correct way to observe “Lord’s Supper” (Vv. 23-26)

This is the Christian ritual involving bread and wine
– or crackers and grape juice
• the Roman Catholic and “high church” traditions refer to it as “Eucharist,” to “give thanks” (v. 24)
• Evangelical and “free church” tradition refers to it as “the Lord’s Supper” (v. 20)
◦ or “Communion” (10:16-17), sharing or participating
◦ I’ll use the Lord’s Supper
– we know what happens in the Lord’s Supper from last week
• we renew a covenant bond with God through Jesus and with each other
◦ Paul adds here, we also proclaim a message
◦ between two events we connect with Jesus (re-member with him)
• but there are other mysteries they may not have realized
◦ and we may not have realized these mysteries either

First, participating in ritual we can do us more harm than good (V. 27)

It is really important that we are clear on this point!
– NO ONE is “worthy” to receive the body and blood of Jesus
• but it’s not that difficult to figure out what Paul means
◦ he has already addressed the problem
When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not vv. 20-22)
• the wealthier members enjoyed a meal that was not sacred!
◦ breaking bread was an important social practice of church life
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. . . . And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts (Acts 2:42, 46)
◦ but in Corinth, that custom had malfunctioned
– just so we are clear on this:
unworthy manner is a failure to love and consider others
• it does the opposite of what is supposed to happen
◦ it divides rather than unites (vv. 18-19)

A second mystery is a “presence” that is experienced in the Lord’s Supper

A presence that can only be discerned, and must be discerned (v. 29)
– when believers come together in Jesus’ name, he is there
• not only in a mystical way; that is, spiritual and hidden
• but in a way that is physically manifest
◦ each person is a member of Jesus’ body (more on this in chapter 12)
– if I do not discern Jesus’ presence in this way,
• I will not receive all of the benefits of the Lord’s Supper
• all through this series, I have stressed the importance of awareness
◦ here we learn what being aware can open to us a new kind of vision of things unseen

We came to 1 Corinthians for Paul’s spiritual guidance

Way back in the fourth century,
– Christians began visiting monasteries for the same purpose that we’re following Paul
• they wanted to learn the insights others had gained from living in complete devotion to Jesus,
◦ spending whole life in scripture, prayer, meditation, contemplation, chanting the Psalms, and so on
• what could average Christian take from monastery that would help them fully immerse themselves in God?
– John Cassian spent years consulting with various monks
• he kept a journal of his conversations with them
• my favorite is titled his “The Conferences of Abbot Moses”

Abbot Moses explained to Cassian, there are three origins of our thoughts:
– they come from God, from the devil, and from ourselves
“We ought then carefully to notice this threefold order, and with a wise discretion to analyze the thoughts which arise in our hearts, tracking out their origin and cause and author in the first instance, that we may be able to consider how we ought to yield ourselves to them . . . .”
• he has a lot to say about discretion (in this context it means the same as discernment)
• he uses an analogy of determining whether a coin is real or counterfeit
◦ he describes discernment as an excellent quality and virtue
◦ and refers to it as the “mother of moderation”
– Moses told Cassian stories, both ancient and recent, of “shipwrecks,” others who
“were destroyed and hopelessly ruined, because they paid little attention to [discernment]” and that we make “frequent mistakes in matters that are plain and straightforward.”
• he also explained that discernment
“is no ordinary virtue nor one which can be freely gained by merely human efforts, unless they are aided by Divine blessing . . .” as Paul included “the discerning of spirits” among “the noblest of gifts”
• for our part, he said that we must approach discernment with humility
◦ and that confession is helpful, because “it brings secret thoughts into the light”

Biblical discernment requires spiritual awareness

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 Jn. 4:1)
– test translates the same word Paul uses here in verse 28, Let a person examine himself
• we find it again in Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect
• discernment is a kind of examination
◦ but one that requires the help of God’s Spirit

How did Paul want them to exercise discernment?

First, in discovering the mysteries of the Lord’s Supper
– the mystery present in any Christian meeting – or anywhere
Second, in discovering whether a preacher, teacher, or guide is someone they should follow
I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough . . . For such are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ (2 Cor. 11:3-4)
Third, in discovering what is in our own hearts and minds
– the message of Haggai, Consider your ways
• or Isaiah, regarding idolatry,
a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?” (Isa. 44:20)
• I feel like there is something I should add
◦ Paul tells us to examine and discern ourselves–not condemn ourselves!
◦ self-condemnation won’t bring you any closer to your true self or Jesus

Conclusion: There is a special challenge in spiritual discernment

A westerner introduced radio to people who’d never seen one
– he first tried to explain it before they were shown a radio
• no one understood him and some people became angry with him
◦ then, when they saw and heard a radio, they were at first, confused – they thought it was a person nearby
“Finally, like us, they managed to develop the necessary discrimination of each [human voice and radio voice], such as we have. ¶ And, when I questioned them afterwards, all swore that what they had imagined from descriptions of radios . . . did not correspond with the reality.”
• we have a similar challenge when it comes to discerning spirits
– what do we mean “a discerning eye”? or “discerning taste”? or “a discerning touch”?
• the ability to detect the relative quality of something
◦ for instance, to distinguish real silk from synthetic silk
• we can train our spiritual senses
solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil (Heb. 5:14)

To practice, notice when there is an opportunity to exercise discernment
(there are many, like in how we are to interpret a biblical passage, or when we hear a Bible teacher on the radio and we are not sure if what this person says is the truth)
relax your muscles,
draw in a slow, cleansing breath,
focus on the here and now–this specific moment,
listen for the inner wisdom of the Spirit,
then act in faith
With enough practice, we will start getting it right


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  1. Kate Garvey / Nov 16 2021

    Thank you all for your prayers last Sunday. I had oral surgery Monday that was extensive and expensive but all is well. Jim’s message on anxiousness and viewing things from a negative history helped me. I felt supported through the process.

  2. Chuck Smith, Jr. / Nov 16 2021

    Kate, we’re sorry to hear about the surgery and expense, but thankful that Jim’s message came at the right time for you.

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