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Last updated: Sep 23, 2013
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1 Cor. 11:31 states that "If we judge ourselves, we should not be judged". It is such verbiage as this that has discouraged me in the past from reading the Bible.
Do you honestly find any of it difficult? If not, with as much reading and study as you have done over the years, why do you continue to study? I hope you don't think I am being disrespectful. That is not my intent at all.
Thank you for such a good question about the difficulty of understanding 1 Cor. 11:31. If more people asked questions like this, I think the Body of Christ would be MUCH, MUCH more mature!
Yes, many passages of God's Word are very difficult for me to understand, but, one of my greatest joys is to read, study, and teach God's Word!
It is alive and powerful, the owners manual for human beings, the love letter from our Heavenly Father to His children, and it is fresh, exciting, challenging, and inspiring every time I read it. It is like a huge mural or mosaic that you add a piece to here and there and it becomes a little clearer with the addition of each piece. There seems to be no end to the joy of new understanding that we can receive from God's Word! The more I study, the clearer it all becomes.
Trying to understand passages like 1 Cor 11:31 is what caused me to begin deep Bible study on my own. I heard pastors saying "yield", "give your heart to Jesus", "repent", "Let go and let God", etc, and I asked them after the service, "just what are the mechanics of HOW TO DO what you said to do"?, I never found one pastor who could tell me HOW to do what he had just told me to do, until I sat under a pastor who TAUGHT the Bible WORD by WORD, & VERSE BY VERSE, BOOK BY BOOK. That FORCES the teacher to deal with and find an answer for EVERY passage that comes up.
To interpret scriptures such as this, I prayerfully study the passage in the Greek to see if I can get some extra "insight", I check the comments of commentators I trust, I carefully read the CONTEXT around the verse, and I note the major New Testament teachings that are addressed by the passage, or that are referred to by the passage.
Here is what I believe about 1 Cor 11:31, "If we judge ourselves, we should not be judged":
1. There are two different Greek words for "judging" in this verse. The Greek states that when we "judge" (Greek "diakrino", to examine, to determine right from wrong) our OWN SELF, then we don't have to BE "judged" (Greek "krino", our actions judged FOR us and discipline measured out to correct us).
2. The context is 1 Cor. 11:17-34, which starts out saying that the Corinthians were committing more sins at church than they were at home! In verse 17, Paul says "ye come together not for the better, but for the worse"! In verse 18 Paul cites "divisions" or "arguments" among them, in verse 19 "heresies", or "false teachings", verse 21 & 22 "not even sharing the food they brought and getting drunk at the Lord's Supper", verse 27 partaking of the Lord's Supper "unworthily", or with unconfessed sin in their life (out of fellowship), and verse 30 is 3 stages of divine discipline that had come upon the Corinthian Christians because of these sins.
3. Major New Testament teachings that are addressed:
a. Unconfessed sin in the Christian life, 1 John Chapter one addresses this problem.
b. Divine discipline for unconfessed sin, 1 Peter 4:17 and Hebrews 12:4-11.
I believe 1 Cor 11:31 is stating that we must continually examine our own self to see if we have sin in our life, and if we do, then confession of that sin according to 1 John chap 1 brings God's forgiveness and the Holy Spirit's power back into our life to live ABOVE sin. If we do not examine ourselves and honestly confess our known sin to God, then God must do it FOR us, which brings us under divine discipline.
This "self examination", I believe, is the KEY to the Christian walk. Instant confession of every known sin, even an evil thought, maintains our fellowship with God, and the power and leading of the Spirit of God, and keeps us growing, productive, and out from under discipline from God.
For more information, see BibleFood.com Page 4 on how to be continually led by God's Spirit.
Let me know if you have a further question about 1 Cor. 11:31, and by all means, don't be afraid to ask your pastor about these tough questions and difficult passages. We all grow when we discuss difficult passages such as this one.
I also promise that if I do not have an answer, I will say "I don't know", and set out to do my best to find an answer :-)
May the Lord bless you and your loved ones.
Your brother in Christ, Bob Jones