Let A Man Examine Himself
To the 21st-century Christian, the book of Leviticus can appear awkward. Within it are commandments that seem to be superfluous to our modern day experience. Much of its 27 chapters has been replaced by New Testament truth, but some principles are established that are perpetual in nature. For example, the theme of holiness appears in Leviticus (11:44) and is cited in the New Testament (1 Pe. 15-17). The related idea of separation also appears, and again is re-established in the New Testament.
In Leviticus 21:17 we read; 'whosoever...hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer.' The theme of acceptable approach is also re-established in the New Testament, and with the remembrance of our Saviour in mind, let’s consider this together.
In Leviticus the Lord is establishing a principle for Moses: the physically blemished are not fit to represent the people as priests. Under grace, the literal aspect of this principle is revoked, but the spiritual truth, of which it is a picture remains, remembering that we are all priests. In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul deals with practical problems at the Lord's supper and addresses the issue of eating the bread and drinking the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner. He shows that there is a specific way in which one should come to the remembrance of the Lord. We do not come haphazardly, or as we feel, but we come having first examined ourselves; ‘But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup’ (11:28).
The immediate application is the debauchery and sectarianism that was on display in Corinth, even in the Lord’s supper. But there is a wider application: the principle must extend to include hidden sin in the life. Thank God that there is forgiveness from such sin; but we should not come to remember Him, having not first confessed, and received pardon.
Beyond hidden sin, it must also include open sin, an example of which is addressed by the Lord in Matthew 5:23-24; ‘Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.’ My concern in this article is not what does and does not constitute a legitimate grievance, but to establish the principle that where there is disunity between brethren, it should be dealt with before worship.
As we prepare to remember our Lord again today, let us first examine ourselves that there not be anything that would cause us to eat the bread or drink the cup in an unworthy manner. To do so is to slight our Lord and His sacrifice.