I Cor.11:17-32 –Three judgements are mentioned in this passage concerning our gathering together to remember Christ’s death, i) judge yourself, ii) judgement by Christ upon the believer who will not judge himself, iii) the judgment that will come upon whose who reject the provision of Christ on the cross which is an eternity in hell.
In verse 28 we read, “But let a man examine himself…” and in verse 31, “For if we would judge ourselves…” These two terms “examine” and “judge” are almost synonymous. To examine yourself is a vital part of judging yourself and in order to judge yourself you must examine yourself. In Matthew 7:5 the man is told by Christ to “…cast out the beam out of thine own eye…” Christ is commanding him to deal with something in his own life and to get rid of it. But in order to do that there must be a close inspection and examination in order to get rid of the thing that is causing harm. This is what is meant by judging yourself or self-judgement. This is a clear command from Christ and the Word of God. We must examine and judge ourselves as a part of our normal Christian walk. Paul calls the church to do this regularly around the Lord’s Table. It is a vital part of public healthy worship. In an un-healthy church people judge others but not themselves; or at the other extreme they judge nothing at all including not judging themselves. Many spiritual movements today teach doctrines that deny this biblical command. They say you must have a good self-esteem and just love and accept yourself the way you are etc. To judge yourself would seem like legalism or negativism to such groups. But to judge yourself is a Biblical command.
The word “examine”, dokimazo, means to test, discern and approve after testing. It is a testing and examination with the purpose of approving or bringing yourself to a place of approval and acceptability. It is not an examination that leaves us outside, disqualified or in the dumps. It is a call to examine ourselves and to then deal with anything that is wrong in order that we might then partake of the bread and cup. The word “judge”, diakrino, means to separate thoroughly, to discriminate, to make a difference between things and to decide. This is what we are to do with our own lives and hearts before eating and drinking.
Without this act of personal examination and judging there are certain dangers in our public gatherings. Verse 27 says that without such judging of self we may eat and drink “unworthily” meaning irreverently, without due care and respect, or in the wrong manner. Paul gives an example of this unworthy manner in verse 21 concerning church gatherings where believers eat together. There were those who ate to capacity while others went hungry. Such careless unthinking attitudes concerning other members of the body while going ahead and partaking of the Lord’s Table in remembrance of Christ’s death shows a great need for such believers to wake up and judge themselves. Without such judging of self they “…shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” You are in danger of being involved in the guilt of His death instead of this being a memorial of your forgiveness and freedom in Christ. You are acting as if this work of Christ at Calvary has no impact upon your relationships with other believers in the church. Such a person is “…not discerning the Lord's body” (v29). To discern is also the same word as judge, diakrino. So the believer is to judge himself and to judge the Lord’s body. He is to consider and to weigh up with discernment what Christ’s death means in the practical outworking of his own attitudes and life in the church with other believers.
JUDGED & CHASTENED BY GOD
I Cor.11:29, “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.” This concerns Christians who have not examined or judged themselves. They eat and drink in an unworthy manner. They eat and drink damnation. This word damnation, krima, is a legal term meaning a decision to condemn. Notice that we do this—not the Lord! By this neglect of obedience in examining and judging himself the believer brings Christ’s righteous judgement upon himself. If you will not judge yourself then He will judge you. “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged” (11:31). The word “judged”, krino, means to distinguish, to try, to come to a decision, or to punish. But please notice that this damnation or judgment is not a casting away or unto eternal punishment in hell: “But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord” (11:32). This judgement of the believer who has not judged himself is explained as the chastening of God. This word “chastened”, paideuo, literally means to train up a child, to instruct, teach or educate him. Chastening is not punishment for our sin. To be punished for your sin would mean going to hell. But chastening is a dealing of God with the Christian over an undealt with issue in the heart. Chastening is the act of God by which He wants to train us to live holy.
A church with believers in it who refuse to deal with themselves in personal judgement may suffer in the following way: “For this cause many are weak (without strength) and sickly among you, and many sleep (they have died early)” (v30). God does not just ignore sin in a believer’s life. He exposes it and deals with it. God judges Christians now over issues they don’t judge in themselves. He does punish His children with temporal punishments. A quick review of scripture turns up a host of examples such as Moses and Aaron not being allowed into the land of promise (Num.20:12, 24), or the son of King David dying because of his sin (II Sam.12), or the young prophet being punished for disobeying God in listening to an older backslidden prophet (I Kgs.13). All of these individuals were loved of God, forgiven, redeemed but they were also chastened very sorely because their lives were so high profile.
Chastening, correcting and disciplining is an act of God’s love, a manifestation of His Fatherhood, and a wonderful act in His training of the believer. Every Christian ought to study Heb.12:5-11 very closely.
JUDGED & CONDEMNED WITH THE WORLD
I Cor.11:32, “But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” If Christ does not chasten us, deal with us, rebuke us, correct us, teach us and turn us when something is wrong in our lives it is a sign that we are not His child and that we are on our way to hell to be punished eternally by fire (5:5). If we are not judging ourselves and if God is not judging us then there is a third terrible judgement. If you don’t like to judge yourself and if you run from any thought of chastening there is only one other option. If He does not chasten you you are not His child, your not saved, you are not a Christian. Self-judgement and chastening are vital aspects of the Christian life.