For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. (1Corinthians 11:29-32)
When I became a pastor in 1953 and looked for verses to read at Communion services, I saw Paul’s message to the Corinthians. I began reading this passage at every Communion service. It is a plain warning to Christians about living in known sin and then glossing it over with public participation in this sacred observance.
Persistent sin is bad enough, but to cover it over with a public testimony of obedience to the Lord in a Communion service appears to cross a serious line with the Lord. In Corinth, it had brought on sickness and death to: “many.”
There IS a sin unto death for Christians who truly know the Lord but turn their backs on the Lord and ignore His will. It would be a sin that the individual knows is a sin. It may be a long-term persistence in sin that the person knows should not be. Or, like Ananias and Sapphira in the book of Acts, it may be a one-time sin of such significance that the Lord will not overlook.
What is the sin unto death? The Bible does not name a particular sin that may result in death. The warnings in the Bible are nameless and broad. It may be that the sin is simply a strong defiance of God that He will not permit.
We Christians know when we are sinning. We know when our hearts are cold. We know when we have drifted away from the Lord. God allows us to do that and patiently works with us to draw us back to Himself. But, there comes that watershed when we are in conscious defiance of God like a belligerent child who faces a parent and says: “No!” On this occasion, it is the child of God saying “No!” to the Lord.
It is much like the contest between God and lost people when He is convicting them of sin and drawing them to be saved. Sometimes, the Holy Spirit convicts and draws for the last time and the response is a firm No! Sometimes that person is cut off. Evangelist Paul Ferguson told me of many in his meetings who died shortly after their contest with God in his meetings. Mordechai Ham, the evangelist who held a meeting in Charlotte, NC where Billy Graham was saved, had several people to die during his meetings.
When Christians decide to have no respect or affection for God, they can be cut off. In our text today, we have a solemn warning to Christians against pushing against God in disobedience. It’s not my word. I’m just the messenger.
Paul warns people about partaking the Lord’s Supper while in sin against God. He says that “many” are “weak and sickly among you.” He goes further and says: “many sleep.” Among the Christians in the church at Corinth some had sinned the sin unto death and Paul assumed in his letter to them that they knew what he was talking about.
The solution to this, the way to avoid this kind of sickness and this kind of death, was to judge themselves and turn from their sin so the Lord would not have to judge them. The problem that lost people and some saved people have is: There is no fear of God before their eyes. (Romans 3:18) McGee comments on this verse: Paul seems to sum up all of man's sin in this final statement. He has no fear of God at all. Man is living as if God does not exist. Man actually defies God. What a picture this gives of mankind!
Several other respected Bible commentators voice similar comments. The fear in Rom. 3:18 means a reverential respect, an affection for God. That is the root of the problem. Attitude is everything. Attitude governs actions, good or bad. Christians who let their love for God corrode and weaken are subject to following the lusts of their own flesh and their sinful nature that still resides in us.
Christians who have convinced themselves that God will put up with anything our sinful nature wants us to do, are at a severe disadvantage. In a contest with God, you are not going to win. You are going to get acquainted with His determination to correct you. The world and the devil and our own sinful nature are powerful threats to the Christian.
These are solemn warnings to the backslider: The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways:... (Proverbs 14:14) Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts. (Jeremiah 2:19)
In Part 3 we will look at John’s writings and the writer of Hebrews. Ω
Read Through the Bible in a Year
October 20, 2017 - THURSDAY
A.M. Jeremiah 3-4 P.M. 2 Thess 3
(BIBLE GATEWAY will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
Good Verse to Memorize:
Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2Corinthians 5:17)
Song for Today:
And Can It Be (4:18) (British Congregational Sing)
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