Self Examination Ephesians 5 Lord's Supper
Some time ago, I was chatting with a man who consults with some of the largest U.S. companies about their quality control. Because ministry is a form of human quality control, I thought I'd ask him for some insights. He said, "In quality control, we are not concerned about the product." I was surprised.
But then he went on to say, "We are concerned about the process. If the process is right, the product is guaranteed." Joseph M. Stowell
How relevant to our Christianity.
We tend to be more oriented to the "product" of our faith than the process. As American Christians, we tend to desire and demand products of righteousness, but give little attention to the process.
A master potter: ----if the piece passed the test, he then tapped it with a metal rod to check the ring. Only if the ring was right, absolutely true, was the piece inscribed with his own stamp. His stamp signified that he, the master craftsman, had found it to be without flaw or fault, and it was ready for distribution.
This is something of the flavor of the word examine, which forms the backdrop to Ephesians 5, and which is foundational to coming to the Lord’s Table:
“A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup” (1 Corinthians 11:28 NIV).
As Plato said it long ago: "The unexamined life is the life not worth living" and the unexamined religion is the religion not worth having. It behooves us all to always examine what we do in light of the authority of the Word of God.
**Believers are to engage in rigorous self-examination, rejoicing in the work of Christ but repenting of that which fails the test.
To understand the scope of meaning of the word examine, the participle, testing, or finding out, must be placed in relation to its context.
vv.8 and 10 are linked together: v.9 has a ( v9 )
Reading it this way gives the full impact of the participle, and so a free translation becomes, in effect, “As children of light walk testing what is pleasing to the Lord.”
It is important to see that Paul uses testing-examining—proving—finding out--as prescriptive of how the believer is to be walking.
** The Christian’s walk should be characterized continually by an attitude of testing and probing.
The call to earnest examination in regard to the Lord’s Table is strengthened further by an exegetical choice in relation to which word the negative clause, “not as fools but as wise” is spoken to in verse 15. “Don’t examine as fools do!” Paul exclaims. How do fools examine?
Our text gives a good hint in verse 16 with the phrase “The days are evil.” “When in Rome do as the Romans do” is not an acceptable standard for God’s people.
We are God’s people. We do not just go along with the crowd!!!
[three tests before entering into Communion]
I. Fit for God
The first test is that we examine our walk by what pleases the Lord.
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light…proving (testing) what is acceptable (pleasing) to the Lord.”
v Here is the bold suggestion of the possibility of pleasing the Lord!
The force is even stronger than the English word conveys.
[acceptable to the Lord]---It is the compound word, well-pleasing.
When even peers are hard to please, the awesome prospect of pleasing the Almighty seems too much for us.
|Nevertheless, Scripture affirms this possibility in the example of Enoch, who was commended as one who pleased God (see Hebrews 11:5-6). Enoch, a man of like passions as we, pleased God well. So can we!|
When the apostle Paul refers to eating and drinking “unworthily” at the Lord’s Table (see 1 Corinthians 11:27), first and foremost he is asking us to examine ourselves to make absolutely certain that we are in the faith!!!!!
q In ourselves we can never be worthy!!
q We approach the Table with faith in the sufficiency of our Lord’s sacrifice and the assurance that we have been made worthy because of the righteousness of our Lord imputed to the believer.
The final occurrence of the verb speaks directly to the thrust of our text as it focuses on the progression in pleasing God: “Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is well-pleased” (Hebrews 13:16).
ü Clearly, pleasing God well cannot be a once-for-all exhibition of faith. It is the continual doing good and sharing that pleases God most.
It is the Process—that will produce the Product
Has the Process of the Christian Life begun in you?
One commentator noted that you can tell what a man's relations with God are by looking at his relations with his fellow men. If a man is at variance with his fellow men, if he is a quarrelsome, competitive, argumentative trouble making creature, he may be a diligent church attender, he may even be a church office-bearer, but he is not a man of God. If a man is distant from his fellow man, it is good proof that he is distant from God; if he is divided from his fellow men, he is divided from God.
II. Fit for Fellowship
The second test examines our walk by what is fitting in the fellowship of believers: “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people” (Ephesians 5:3).
The immediate reference in both verses is to three sins listed, but the principle “as is fitting for the saints” lifts us into a larger sphere.
In all of this testing we are to take into consideration the whole fellowship, the church.
Sometimes this testing is easier: For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Ephesians 5:5).
Immorality! Impurity! Greed! These prohibitions are glaring and emphatic.
Just previous to this Paul prescribes testing that becomes a bit sticky: “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving” (v.4).
III. Fit for the Table
The third test is to examine our walk by our own unique need and circumstance. “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15). “A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup” (1 Corinthians 11:28).
Note how intimately these texts ask us to test. ****Literally, “You examine how you live.”
------It is always a temptation to apply tests to the needs and circumstances of others rather than to ourselves.
Faults are like the headlights of a car; those of others seem more glaring than your own.
With this in mind, come back to the three sins linked together:
immorality, impurity, covetousness.
Ø It is very easy to let these wash over us.
Ø We wail over pornography, prostitution, homosexuality; and adultery
Ø We lament the sins of others as we quietly hang out the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the doorknobs of our own lives.
The desire of the Father’s heart is that we his children so walk that when the final measure of life is taken he can write over our lives: Handcrafted by the Living God.
Bag of Cement.----- When I reached down to pick up this heavy bag, to my surprise, I discovered it was not soft and limber, as I had expected but had solidified into an immovable piece of cement.
n Often our lives are like that bag of cement. They take on shapes that were not intended and become hardened in that shape. That bag of cement was meant to become a part of some beautiful structure but, because it did not reach its place of service, it became a useless rock in the form of a bag of cement.
God wants to make something beautiful of your life.
Our good God has given us the Lord’s Table to help us in this process of self-examination:
A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.
Let us so come to the Communion Table, having applied to our hearts the tests of the Scriptures.
May his Spirit bear witness with ours that we have the seal of God’s approval upon our lives!