Bible Question:

When you take communion, do you have to repent of all your sins that you are currently doing like committing adultery on your wife? Would this include telling the lady that you are committing adultery with that you don't want to see her anymore?

Bible Answer:

The Lord’s Supper or communion is a solemn occasion. It is the time when Christians remember Christ’s death for the forgiveness of our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). Some pastors will add Christ’s resurrection which proved He was and is God (Romans 1:4) and that His sacrifice for our sins was accepted by the Father (Romans 4:25). 1 Corinthians 11:27 is also about the Lord’s Supper and in this passage the apostle Paul warns every Christian that he who . . .

. . . eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 11:27  (NASB)

But what is the meaning of “unworthy manner”? Does the phrase mean that we must repent of our sins before we take the Lord’s Supper?

Should A Christian Repent Before Taking The Lord's Supper?

The Lord’s Supper Established

The Lord’s Supper was established by our Lord Jesus Christ on the night in which He was betrayed. The next day He would die on the cross for our sins. The Lord’s Supper is described in Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26 and Luke 22:14-19. Matthew 26:26-29 gives us a short summary of Jesus’ words during the Lord’s Supper.

While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” Matthew 26:26-29  (NASB)

In Luke’s record of Christ’s institution of the Lord’s Supper, we read that Jesus told the disciples to periodically celebrate the Lord’s Supper as a way to remember Him.

This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me. Luke 22:19 (NASB)

In 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, the apostle Paul explains that the Lord Jesus gave Him instruction about the Lord’s Supper. While the essence of what was recorded in the three gospels is repeated, Paul also repeats the command recorded by Luke that we are to remember Christ’s death periodically. That is, the Lord’s Supper is a time to remember the Lord’s death and we are to do it until He returns!

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (NASB)

Warning: Judge Yourself

Then in the next verses, 1 Corinthians 11:27-32, Paul warns Christians to not eat the bread and drink of the cup in an “unworthy manner.” He also urges us to examine ourselves and judge ourselves rightly so that we can avoid the Lord’s discipline and death.

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world. 1 Corinthians 11:27-32 (NASB)

But what does Paul mean by “unworthy manner,” “examine” and judge?  The Greek word for “unworthy manner” is anaxios and it means “inappropriate” or “not worthy.” The Greek word for “examine” is dokimazo. It means to “judge something as genuine.” The Greek word for “judge” is diakrino. Literally, it means “to judge through” or “to discriminate.” Together these three words mean that there are times when we should not celebrate the Lord’s Supper.

But what is Paul talking about? The answer becomes clear if we read the verses before and after 1 Corinthians 11:23-32. We learn from the preceding verses, 1 Corinthians 11:18-22,  that the Corinthian Christians would selfishly feast on the food and drink. It is implied that they hurry to be first in line and grab the food before others could. The Corinthians practiced “me first.” Therefore, Paul rebuked their behavior and urged them to eat their meals at home.

For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you. Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you. 1 Corinthians 11:18-22 (NASB)

In the verses after 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, Paul added these words,

So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment. The remaining matters I will arrange when I come. 1 Corinthians 11:33-34 (NASB)

Notice that before and after verses 2-26 Paul rebukes them for their sinful behavior. In verses 33-34 he urges them to “wait for one another” — be patient, control yourself. What was the warning? The specific warning was to not be greedy and feast on food at the communion table, but the warning also applies in general to other sinful behaviors. The warning was do not sin!  That is what it means to behave in an unworthy manner. Paul urges Christians to evaluate their own behavior. Christians are to judge themselves and stop sinning. Christians are not to sin! Otherwise, God may cause them to be sick or even die.

What Christians Should Do

Therefore, Christians must not celebrate the Lord’s Supper if they have sins they have not confessed and sins they are still committing. There are three things every Christian must do before participating in the Lord’s Supper since the Lord’s Supper celebrates Christ’s death which made possible the forgiveness of our sins.

Forgive Others

First, a Christian must forgive others who have offended them because Christ has forgiven every Christian.

For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. Matthew 6:14-15 (NASB)

These verses mean that if you are a Christian who refuses to forgive someone who has offended you, then your relationship with God the Holy Spirit will not be correct. You may think, how did we reach that conclusion from this verse? The answer is that Scripture teaches that when a person becomes a Christian, God justifies the person or declares the person to be righteous in their past, present and future behavior (Romans 5:1). That is, God declares the Christian to be sinless in their behavior. Consequently, they will go to heaven. That is why Jesus promised that everyone who believes in Him will be raised up on the last day (John 6:37, 39, 40, 44, 47, 54). This is called positional sanctification. Yet in this life here on earth, a Christian still sins and when a Christian sins they grieve or quench the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19). Then the work of the Holy Spirit in his or her life is hindered until they confess their day-to-day sins. Such confession restores the relationship. This is the forgiveness to which Matthew 6:14-15 refers. It is not the forgiveness that is essential for salvation for the Christian. That has already occurred at the moment of saving faith.

Therefore, as long as a Christian refuses to forgive an offender he or she will continue grieving or quenching the Holy Spirit. Therefore, our forgiveness must be unilateral and unconditional whether the offender is a friend or an enemy. Ephesians 4:32 urges us to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us. It is not referring to methodology or a process but to a spirit of forgiveness.

Seek Forgiveness From Others

Secondly, you must seek to repair your relationship with another person if you know the person has been offended by you in some way.

Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Matthew 5:23-24 (NASB)

If you know you have offended someone, then you must go to them and seek forgiveness before you go to church to worship. That includes celebrating the Lord’s Supper. The Lord is not interested in our worship until we have tried to obtain forgiveness. If we do not endeavor to reconcile, then we have not fulfilled God’s command.

If adultery has occurred, the adulterer must seek forgiveness from the one with whom they are having the adulterous affair and that relationship must stop immediately. The adulterer must also confess the sin of adultery to his or her spouse. Why? The answer is that the adulterer has violated the marriage vows (Malachi 2:14). Second, the adulterer’s body belongs to his or her spouse (1 Corinthians 7:4).

The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 1 Corinthians 7:4 (NASB)

This means that the adulterer was not free to engage in physical relations with someone else.  Yes, the adulterer’s spouse will be hurt and or angry when the adulterer confesses his or her sin of adultery; but the question is does the adulterer desire to be forgiven and be right with God?

Confess Your Sins To God

Third, a Christian must confess his or her sins to the Lord (1 John 1:9). At this point, they can celebrate the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner and not fear God’s discipline or death.

Conclusion:

The Lord’s Supper is a celebration of Christ’s victory on the cross on our behalf. When the perfect, sinless Lamb of God died on the cross in order to forgive our sins, He became our perfect sacrifice. How disgusting and sad it would be to celebrate Christ’s death while refusing to confess, repent and forsake our sins How hypocritical it would be to celebrate His death for the forgiveness of our sins while continuing to indulge in sin!

Suggested Links:

What is the meaning of the word repent or repentance in the Bible?
hat is the meaning of “foot washing”?
Can I worship and have communion at home by myself?
Does the Eucharist reveal a lost secret of the church?
Should we take communion every Sunday?
Does the expression first love in Revelation 2:4 refer to communion?
How often should you have communion at your church?
How do we forgive others as God has forgiven us?
If I am living in adultery when I die, do I go to heaven?