Tag Archives: ceremony

“Weak and Beggarly Elements” #2374

9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain (Galatians 4:9–11, NKJV).

The Law of Moses defined and identified sin but could not redeem sinners from sin’s bondage and death (Gal. 3:10-14, 21; Rom. 3:20). The gospel of Christ is the good news that Christ redeems sinners from the curse of the law (that is, the law condemned the sinner but could not save the sinner, Gal. 3:10-11. It was “weak and beggarly” to justify sinners, Gal. 4:9). For Christians to return to the Law of Moses would be a return to sin’s bondage and its curse of death. The Law of Moses contained the observance of “days and months and seasons and years,” but these observances were never an end in themselves. Through Hosea, God told Israel, “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6). Here are two crucial lessons from today’s passage. (1) Do not add man-made rites and rituals to God’s revealed will. Religious ceremonies that God’ has not commanded dishonor men and God by violating God’s truth (Lev. 10:1-3; Matt. 15:9). (2) Do not ritualize what God has commanded. To turn God’s worship and service into mere ceremonies removes the heart from one’s service to God (Luke 18:12; Ps. 51:16-17). Binding the Law of Moses as a means of salvation makes void God’s grace in Christ (Gal. 1:6-7; 2:21). Making man-made holy days and observances Christ has not commanded do the same thing (Matt. 28:20; Gal. 1:8-10).

“Many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep” #1711

30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:30–32, NKJV)

The spiritual condition of many of the Corinthian Christians was in jeopardy. The terms “weak,” “sick,” and “sleep” have spiritual (not physical) significance. These were without spiritual strength, some were spiritually ill, and some were already dead. (See John 11:11-13, where Jesus used “sleep” to mean Lazarus was dead.) We must judge our eating of the Lord’s supper in order to avoid such spiritual demise (which, by the way, shows Christians can indeed sin and be lost). This context shows we must judge our heart and our conduct in the Lord’s supper by using the Lord’s instructions about the supper (1 Cor. 11:23-26, 27-29). Such personal examination helps us avoid divine judgment, as well as condemnation with the world (v. 31, 32). Paul’s rebuke of their sin in this matter was the Lord’s discipline, to correct their error and preserve their souls. Eating the Lord’s supper is not a mindless ceremony. It is not a liturgical sacrament by which the mere partaking of it God grants sanctifying grace to the worshiper. It is a moment of solemn, proclamation and reverential remembrance of the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Christians who turn it into anything else expose themselves to condemnation, not glory.