We are slowly working our way through 1 Corinthians at church at the moment. It’s a challenging book, addressing some very hotly debated topics within the Christian community today. When it came to studying the Lord’s supper I thought this passage would be a little more straight forward. However we should never under-estimate the depth of God’s word, even from the passages we think we know well.
Part of the message addressed how some Christians consider not taking communion some weeks because they feel guilty or unworthy of doing so. We may be struggling with a sin in our life or generally not feel as close to God due to some disobedient act. Knowing the significance of the Lord’s supper and what it represents in Christ’s sacrifice to us, it’s easy to at times feel we are not worthy given our tendency sometimes to rush into disobeying God in our daily lives. However to feel that way is to forget what has actually happened to us when we become a Christian and what is at the heart of the Gospel message.
When Christ died for us two things happened. Firstly Jesus was the atoning sacrifice for our sins. He bore the wrath of God for our sins so that we may be spared God’s righteous judgment and eternal condemnation in hell. However that is only half the story. Jesus lived a perfect life. He was without sin. When He took on our sin, He became sin for us so that through faith in Him we may be declared righteous. This concept is critical to understand as a Christian, and it’s referred to as “atonement”. I will cover that more in a later blog. However the key point I want to focus on here is the fact that Christ’s righteousness is imputed or transferred to us as we choose to trust in His atoning death for us.
2 Corinthians 5:21 states “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God”.
That is such a profound verse!!! Especially when you appreciate how sinful we are before our holy God. It highlights the justice of God in needing to have our sins punished, and also His love and mercy for us in sending His Son to take our bullet.
This leads me to my main point. If through faith in Christ we are now the righteousness of God, justified in His sight and without blemish, why should we feel unworthy to be in His presence, let alone when we are taking communion. This type of thinking is not only wrong biblically, but robs God of the glory He deserves in saving us.
Our salvation is a work done by God alone. We can take no credit for it whatsoever. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit work in our lives to call God’s children out of spiritual darkness into salvation and an eternal relationship with Him. Through Christ we are righteous before God, and as a result there is no condemnation from Him towards us, as Romans 8:1 famously declares. So should Christians feel guilty? I believe the answer is no.
Now before your eyebrows raise and jaw drops let me clarify what I mean, and don’t mean, about “feeling guilty”. I think guilt is different to conviction. To be convicted by the Holy Spirit for sin we are committing or have committed is a healthy yet unpleasant experience. It’s healthy because it should lead us to repentance and a more focused relationship with God. It is also different to mourning. Our daily battle with sin can lead us to mourning our current sinful state and a longing for God’s comfort and forgiveness (Matthew 5:3). The focus here is a reliance on God’s grace, not feeling helpless and sorry for ourselves. The point I am trying to make is that guilt leads to separation from God by causing us feel unworthy to commune with Him, whilst conviction or mourning one’s sinful state leads to a greater reliance on God’s grace and therefore stronger relationship with Him.
Remember we are right with God because of what Christ has done, not what we can or can’t do. Sin will disrupt our intimacy with God, but it doesn’t disqualify us as we continue to trust in what Christ has done for us on the cross. Therefore do not let Satan or anything else allow you to feel unworthy or guilty to commune with God and celebrate what he has done in Christ. That goes for when we take communion, as well as during our daily lives.