1 Corinthians 11:29
For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
I. WHAT WORTHINESS TO PARTAKE IS.
1. What is meant by worthiness to partake.
(1) Not a legal worthiness, as if we could deserve it at the hands of God (Luke 17:10). Those who are that way worthy in their own eyes, are altogether unworthy.
(2) But it is a gospel-meetness and fitness (Matthew 3:8). And much of that lies in coming with a deep sense of our vileness and emptiness (Isaiah 4:1).
2. Wherein does this worthiness to partake consist?
(1) In habitual meetness for it, in respect of a gracious state. A dead man is not fit for a feast nor a dead soul for the Lord's table.
(2) In actual meetness, in respect of a gracious frame. Not only life, but liveliness is requisite (Psalm 80:18), A sleeping man is not fit for a feast; and therefore even a true believer may communicate unworthily, as some in Corinth did (vers. 30, 32).
II. THE DUTY OF SELF-EXAMINATION NECESSARY FOR WORTHY RECEIVING OF THE LORD'S SUPPER.
1. The rule or touchstone by which we must examine.
(1) Beware of false ones.
(a) The common guise of the world. It is not enough that ye are like, aye, and better than many (Luke 18:11).
(b) One's being better than sometime before (2 Corinthians 10:12).
(c) The letter of the law. The Pharisee (Luke 18:11); and Paul before his conversion (Romans 7:9).
(d) The seen practice of the godly, which is an unsafe rule, because you cannot see the principle, motives, and ends of their actions.
(2) The only true rule or touchstone in this case is the Word of God (Isaiah 8:20). God hath given us marks in the Word, by which one may know whether he be in Christ or not (2 Corinthians 5:17); whether born of God or not (1 John 3:9), and the like.
2. The matter about which we are to examine ourselves — the state of our souls before the Lord.
(1) The reason is, this sacrament is not a converting, but a confirming ordinance. It is a seal of the covenant, and so supposes the covenant entered into before by the party. It is appointed for nourishment, which presupposes life. And if it were not so, what need of self-examination?
(2) But more particularly, because there are some graces, namely, knowledge, faith, repentance, love, and new obedience, which in a particular manner are sacramental graces — these are to be examined.
III. THE NECESSITY OF SELF-EXAMINATION.
1. To prevent the sin of coming unworthily to the Lord's table. If we rush on this ordinance without previous examining ourselves, how can we miss of communicating unworthily?
2. To prevent the danger of coming so, which is eating and drinking damnation to one's self. The danger is great —
(1) To the soul (ver. 29).
(2) To the body (ver. 30).
(T. Boston, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.