For my family and me, Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are just around the corner, so I thought this would be a good time to share one of my Bible studies leading up to this spring Holy Day season.
Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.(1 Cor. 11:27-29)
We read this scripture many times leading up the Passover service, both in individual study and while listening to messages in our church congregations. I heard it again last weekend when listening to a Steve Buchanan message titled “The Focus of the Passover.” He pointed out that the phrase “discerning the Lord’s body” gives us a guide for how to examine ourselves. The more we learn about Jesus Christ, the better we will be able to examine our conduct in the light of His life.
Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. (2 Cor. 13:5)
Since Jesus Christ is our example (1 Pet. 2:21) and we are “to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6), it is His conduct that we are measured by. Walking after His example and obeying his commandments, goes hand-in-hand with abiding in Him and being a fit dwelling place for His presence.
Need For Christ In Us
The mutual indwelling that must occur for us to grow as Christians is described in John 15.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)
Like a branch must rely on its vine and rootstock for everything that keeps it alive, so must we rely on Christ. If He is not in us, our spirits are dead.
But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (Rom. 8:9-10)
Christ in us is our “hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). Without Him we can do nothing, but with Him we can do all things (Phil 4:13). When we examine ourselves, we should be looking for evidence of His presence in our lives.
Start In The Mind
Our becoming like Christ starts in our minds and hearts, then spills out into external action. We are told, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” and that we will be expected to “give account for “for every idle word” that we speak (Matt. 12:34, 36). Since the product of our hearts is so pivotal in how we measure up to God’s standard, it is imperative that our hearts and minds be reshaped to look like Jesus Christ.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Phil. 2:5-8)
The aspects of Christ’s personality emphasized here are His humility, his service-mindedness, and His obedience. We need to prayerfully examine ourselves in these areas. Am I becoming humble the way Jesus is humble? Do I follow His example of service to God and other people, both in and out of the church? How well am I keeping His commandments “in spirit and in truth” as well as in the letter of the law?
Another question we can ask is, “How much do I really want to be like Christ?” That’s an aspect of our minds as well. If we don’t have an attitude that sincerely wants to be like Christ and then acts on that desire, we are hobbling our spiritual growth. Christianity is not for people who are content to remain as they are.
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:7-11)
Do we have this attitude about becoming like Christ? Our goal must be to get rid of anything in us that doesn’t lead us closer to Him. Our life, feelings, thoughts, and actions must start to look more and more like His.
Those of us who have been “baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death” and “should walk in newness of life (Rom. 8:3-4). Our old self, the aspects of our character that are not Christ-like, need to be replaced. Our way of thinking, feeling, and living is meant to be radically impacted by the conviction that we are alive only through Jesus Christ our Lord. If we are in Christ, we are being remade in His image and should be able to see that when we examine ourselves honestly.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Cor. 5:17)
Just before the “let this mind be in you” passage starting in Philippians 2:5, Paul writes to the brethren that they should be “like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Phil. 2:2). This mind, which causes peace in the church, is the mind of Christ, and this love is the kind of love which He connected with obedience to God’s commandments (John 14:15; 15:10). Paul further writes, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Phil. 2:3). This attitude of humble service is yet another trait of Jesus Christ that we should be looking for when we examine ourselves to see how closely we resemble Him.