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Understanding the bread of the Lord's Supper
24who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness--by whose stripes you were healed. (1 Peter 2:24).
The above scripture actually sums up the meaning of the bread of the Lordís Supper. His body as referred to in the above scripture is represented by the bread. His body was delivered up to deliver us from sin so that we can live for Him. This scripture speaks of being set free from sin, not just forgiven for sin. As we will see, the cup speaks of forgiveness for sin, but here, the message of the bread is one of us being set free from or delivered out of our sin through Christís death on the cross. There are numerous other scriptures that make this point; i.e., Romans 6:1-11, Romans 6:18, Galatians 2:20, II Corinthians 5:14-15, etc.
Let me repeat, the above mentioned scripture tells us that Jesus bore our sins in His BODY (bread) on the cross so that we 1) have been set free from sin, 2) can live for righteousness. This, in a nutshell, is the meaning of the bread of the Lordís supper. Now, there are other meanings to the bread, but the above is the fundamental and primary meaning. There are other scriptures that make the same point, but here we can clearly see the meaning of His body delivered up for us.
According to scriptures, His body and our bodies are primarily for doing things on the earth. Through His body delivered up for us, He set us free from doing sin and living for ourselves, so that we can use our bodies to live right; to live for God and others like He did with His body. A body is all about doing. The bread symbolizes His body. By symbolically eating His body through the bread of the Lordís Supper, we are 1)eating our deliverance out of our selfishness and sin, and we are 2) eating the Lordís will (righteousness, love). To repeat point number two above; eating the Lordís body is eating His will. To repeat point number one; eating the Lordís body is eating deliverance from our own wills (sin).
34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. (Mark 8:34).
Mark 8:34 describes the meaning of the bread of the Lordís Supper. Here, there is the "dying to self" message and also the "following Him" message.
10By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the BODY of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:10).
In Hebrews 10:10, we see the same theme for the body of Christ delivered up for us. His body was delivered up for us to set us apart from sin. The Bible says that we are free people through the Lordís death. This is a sanctification message, not the forgiveness message of the cup. His body sanctifies us (bread). His blood justifies us (cup). (In the Lordís Supper, the body and blood take on unique meanings. In other contexts, the blood might mean both. The body, though, always relates to truths of sanctification, suffering, and practical righteousness; this is especially true in the Lordís Supper.)
In Hebrews 10:5-7, the body of Christ is associated with doing the will of God. Again, with the bread we are symbolically eating the body of Christ not only to declare our freedom from sin, but also, by eating, we are symbolically eating the will of God. The bread means to us sanctification and the will of God; i.e., sanctification and righteousness; or, deliverance from selfishness and walking in love. Sanctification does away with sin. Righteousness replaces what we did away with, with something good and of God.
6Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6-8).
Here, we see that the very nature of unleavened bread, which is what the bread of the Lordís Supper is (Luke 22:1), relates to the messages of sanctification and righteousness. We see the now familiar theme of purging out the sin (malice and wickedness) so that we can live for righteousness (sincerity and truth).
4Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the BODY of Christ, that you may be married to another--to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. 5For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. (Romans 7:4-5).
Again, His body delivered us from ourselves so that we can live well and be fruitful for God. We cannot deliver ourselves. We cannot just decide to die to ourselves and live for God. Only by relying on the truth of His death, that our body of sin died with His body on the cross (Romans 6:6), can we walk free from our sinful passions which are aroused when we say no to them or try to impose law on them. By symbolically eating His body, we are declaring that "...one died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves...(II Corinthians 5: 14b-15a). We are declaring that "...he who has died has been freed from sin (Romans 6:7). We are proclaiming the authority of the Lordís death over the power of sin in our lives. We are taking it into us by faith.
The above mentioned truth of the cross does not mean that we never sin. It means that through the cross of Christ, we have authority over our selves and flesh and our sin. It means that we donít have to be in bondage to any sin. Making a mistake is one thing. Living in continual bondage to some habit is something else entirely. We might make mistakes but we do not have to keep making the same mistake over and over again. Because of the cross, we have been crucified with Christ; we have been set free; we are free.
I believe physical healing is also represented in the bread and the cup. The truth of physical healing parallels the "crucified with Christ" message of the cross; i.e., they both are truths about the bread. Unleavened bread, though, is fundamentally and primarily all about sanctification and righteousness. Also, healing for the body flows more easily when believers are coming out of their sin. One could look at this as follows. What a person does with his body (sanctification and righteousness) is more important than the condition of his body. For example; a old, crippled, sick lady who spends her time praying is more pleasing to God than a beautiful, healthy babe who is living for self. But, thank God, His ultimate will for us is to have a healthy or right functioning body that is living right!
Read on in this section for more understanding of a vital truth of the cross that the bread stands for!
THE MESSAGE: ITíS WHAT YOU ARE
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? (Romans 6:1,2)
In Romans 6:1-2 and Romans 6:11, Paul is telling us that we need to try to overcome our sin nature. He is telling us that we need to strive and strain and to eventually reach a higher level of spirituality and personal development where we wonít sin so much. Right? Wrong! No, on the contrary, the apostle Paul is telling us that we ARE dead to sin because of our faith in what Christ did for us on the cross. He is appealing to what is true about us in Christ.
Itís what we ARE! The key to experiencing deliverance from sin is to realize and get a revelation of what is true about ourselves because of the cross. Trying to be crucified with Christ is works. Realizing the truth about myself in Christ is grace through faith. Certainly I need to want to repent. But, I must also realize that I cannot deliver myself, or crucify myself with Christ. He included me in His death by grace and therefore I AM dead to sin.
By revelation from the Spirit of God, become convinced of the truth about yourself now that you are in Christ. Accept the grace of God. Stop trying to be what you already are. Grace has changed what you are. Learn to live from the victory, not for the victory. Letís look at some other points regarding this vital facet of the cross.
Itís Our Death
How do you stop a sinner from sinning? By encouraging him to try harder? By building his self-esteem so that he has confidence that he can do it? Hardly. There is only one way, and it is not pretty.
Notice, first off, that death is Godís solution for our sin problem! The solution is our death with Christ so that He may raise us up as new creations. God does not try to remake our old man or our flesh. Romans 6 and many other scriptures make this point very clear.
Furthermore, we cannot rid ourselves of our body of sin. We cannot die to self on our own; we can only want to die to self. By grace through faith, we are included in His death.
Admittedly, our death with Christ is not a glamorous proposition. You cannot market this death to the world. Yet it is the essence of our deliverance from the power of sin. We go no where in the kingdom without accepting our death with Christ. We can go almost anywhere by accepting it. There are great rewards on the resurrection side of the Cross.
Itís Past Tense
Our death with Christ is spoken of in the past tense. ". . . It is finished! . . ." (John 19:30). The past-tense-ness of this truth speaks to our identity. Since itís been done for us, therefore, we are this way. On the cross if Jesus had said it was only half finished, then we would be only half dead. Admittedly, many of us feel half dead. If He had said it was close to being finished, then we would be close to being dead. Yet the truth is that we have died to sin in Christ.
Itís an Identity Thing, Not a Positional Thing
Paul appeals to our identity! We-who-died-to-sin is the answer to our sin problem. Heís saying that the key to deliverance from the power of sin is you who are in Christ: you who died with Christ and who are therefore dead to sin.
Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? . . .
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:2,11).
Itís not remembering the ten-steps-to-freedom program nor the twelve-step program nor even what the seven steps to freedom are. Itís a one-step program! You need to remember what you are! You died with Christ and therefore you are dead to sin!
Every other religion has you trying to be someone or do something in order to be something. Yet in Christianity, Christ has changed who you are by grace. The key to experiencing your deliverance is a revelation of what has been done for you and to you. Many Christians labor and try to be what they already are in Christ. Many Christians labor to overcome flesh problems, all the while ignoring their simple but great deliverance.
Here lies the key to experiencing freedom from deep and ingrained sin habits of sexual lust, anger and bitterness, alcohol and drugs, or pride and self-will. This revelation of Christís death has been crucial to my experiencing freedom from unsolvable sin problems.
I was going through some temptations I humanly couldnít handle. In my business I was beginning to make some significant money. The money and the position were beginning to go to my head. Pride, anger, and lust were beginning to be the norm rather than the exception. As I went to the Lord for an answer, this revelation began to unfold. It came over a period of more than a year, but praise God, the results were great. I canít say I havenít sinned since, but those sin problems and attacking demons were dealt a crushing blow in my life.
Now, a key to making this truth effective in your life is to realize that we have an identity issue here. That you were included in Christís death is not a reference to your position but to your identity. You didnít positionally die with Christ; you died with him!
have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? . . .
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:2,11).
Now many theologians have gutted the life from this fundamental truth by adding the word positional. They say we are dead positionally or legally to sin. Yet Romans 6:2,11 and 1 Peter 2:24 and all the other scriptures simply say we are dead to sin. The Bible says to reckon yourself dead to sin (Romans 6:11). To say we died positionally puts this truth out beyond us, reserved for us somewhere--we donít have to consider it true right now. It makes it a goal to which we must try to attain. It would be somewhat like putting us back under the law. We would try again to achieve something for God. Yet the fact is that we died with Christ! Itís what we are.
Now we are dead to sin by virtue of our having died with Christ. We are also new creations by virtue of being raised with Christ.
Another way of looking at this identity issue is to recognize that our death with Christ tells us who we are not in Christ, while our resurrection with Christ speaks to us of who we are in Christ! We are raised up new creations. We are not the old people we used to be.
Itís a Revelation
Another important key to making this truth effective in your life is to realize the difference between revelation and mental assent. Revelation occurs when the Holy Spirit makes the truth real to you. Revelation becomes genuine faith.
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,
the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints (Ephesians 1:17,18).
Mental assent, on the other hand, is having an intellectual concept about a truth. One has no trust nor faith in that truth.
In Romans 6:6 we see this key to making this truth effective in our lives. It is "knowing this. . . ." Also, Romans 6:3 says, "Or do you not know . . . ?" By seeking the Lord and meditating on our death with Him, the Lord gives us revelation and assurance regarding the truth about us now that we are in Christ. This knowing or faith is more precious than gold (1 Peter 1:7).
In short, a revelation that we died with Christ is our ticket to freedom from the power of sin. All you brought to the Cross was the want-to. All you need is the revelation that it is true about you.
Donít be afraid to spend some time meditating on and seeking God for this revelation. You donít get it while racing in and out of church services. You need to take time before God in prayer and let the Holy Spirit speak to your heart. Godís plan for deliverance from the power of sin is well worth understanding and knowing. It is a big-time key to experiencing all He has for you!
Itís a Reckoning
Any time some desire stemming from our flesh starts to manifest itself, we need to consider or reckon ourselves dead to it (Romans 6:11) and walk in the opposite direction. Yet as stated before, we canít reckon or count on something as true about ourselves (6:11), unless we know it is true.
A person can try to consider himself free from or dead to sin. He can repeat the phrase over and over, but until he knows he is free (6:6), he wonít experience his deliverance. Yet, once he does know he is free, he can at any time go back to this truth, consider himself free from any sin (6:11), and walk in a different direction.
Reckoning is not pretending. It is counting on a truth or considering a fact in a given situation. When your flesh is about ready to act up, reckon or remember or consider the truth about yourself in Christ.
But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God--and righteousness and sanctification and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30).
We cannot jump on the cross and die with Jesus. We can only want to do that. By grace God put us in Christ and included us in His death.
Now that you are in Christ, you donít have to lift one finger to get free from the power of sin. You donít have to make even the slightest effort to get free. Why donít you? (Bear with me.) You already are free! God put you in Christ when you first believed. You already died with Jesus. ". . . It is finished! . . ." (John 19:30). You cannot do the slightest thing to improve upon this situation. Cease striving and accept the grace of God! Believe it and experience your freedom in Christ.
Why Do We Still Sin?
If we are dead to sin, then why do we still sin?
One important reason Christians sin is that they do not know what is the truth about themselves. They donít know they died with Him.
Another reason we sin is that we forget who we are and whatís true about us. In the heat of the day, we can get caught up in our old ways of responding. We can get caught up in other peopleís ways of responding to things. We need to remember Godís one-step formula to freedom from sin: we need to remember who we are.
Letís keep in mind what God has done for us and what He has made us. When he sins, the Christian is like a dog that meows or a cat that barks. He is acting inconsistently with who he now is.
Thirdly, some Christians sin because they donít want freedom from a particular sin. This attitude is serious and dangerous. Judgment, demonic oppression, deception, or worse can result from willful sins.
Finally, the critical picture of the Christianís situation is the account of the children of Israel in the promised land. This account is truly the mother of all biblical analogies. Now I canít go into much detail here, but the following is a useful way to view this subject.
God promised the children of Israel this land. He said, "Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you . . ." (Joshua 1:3). Before they set foot on the promised land, God had already said it was theirs. Before they had actually taken Jericho, God had said to Joshua, "See! I have given Jericho into your hand . . ." (Joshua 6:2). They could take the land because God had already given it to them.
Now you are the promised land. Your soul and body are the promised land. Just as He cleared evil out of the promised land, God wants to clear evil out of you. Just as He wanted to replace the evil inhabitants with His people who would live righteously and be blessed therein, so God wants to replace your old man with His righteousness so that He can bless you with life and glory.
God said to His people, "I have given the land to you," and yet Jericho still stood tall with its thick walls. Plenty of enemies were alive and well when God made His promise. You might ask me, "Chris, do you mean there are enemies in our promised land?" Yes, there are. In our lives and souls, God has promised deliverance from all evil. Yet, there are pockets of resistance against this promise. High things exalt themselves "against the knowledge of God . . ." (2 Corinthians 10:4,5).
God says your old man died with Christ. Yet there are still Jerichos and enemies raised up against Godís promise. These habits, bondages, or strongholds sometimes seem to taunt and defy you, as if saying, "Weíve had you twenty years, and now you think youíve been set free. Impossible! You canít deny that we exist."
Yet you would declare with all faith, "Habit, there has been a change of ownership. In this contract (the Bible), you have been specifically excluded. I donít deny that you exist; I deny your right to exist on this property any more!"
Youíd continue, "Now if you donít believe and respect the authority given me by this contract (the Word), I will call for the power (the Holy Spirit) to back me up on this! Iím moving in a different direction now."
A revelation that I have been crucified with Christ gives me the authority to expect and demand bondages to lift off me. "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days" (Hebrews 11:30). Seven days implies perfect faith, since seven is the number of completion. James 1:6-8 admonishes us to ask in faith with no doubting.
Some of the Jericho's--pride, anger, lust, alcohol, drugs--in your life may have been there for years, and the walls are thick. These thick walls must give way to the unrelenting force of your faith in Godís promise. Encourage yourself in the Word that declares your freedom; confront the problems and hold your confession. Step out in a different direction by faith.
And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarahís womb.
He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.
And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness" (Romans 4:19-22).
Binding demons helps at this point also. Binding them often relieves pressure. They hide behind manís sin and deception. They exert pressure and speak discouragement, unbelief, and all manner of deception to oneís mind. They also like to claim territory not theirs.
People sometimes ask, "Does my death with Christ mean that I never sin?" This is the wrong question to ask. The important question is how much deliverance do you truly want. The Lord gave me this truth to answer people regarding their sin. "You are entitled to as much deliverance as you really want!" In His death, Jesus has freed me from any and all sinful habits and problems. How many do I really want out of my life? My want-to is the limit to my deliverance. Here is a great place for a sound, biblical name-it-and-claim-it teaching. Name that sin; claim your deliverance.
Now, I doubt if anyone on the earth today wants 100 per cent deliverance. Yet we all press on to a stronger resolve in certain areas of weakness.
Dead To Sin?
How do you take a sin to the cross? Where is the cross? Do you hang a crucifix on your wall and kneel before it?
Whenever you compare a sin you committed to the truth that you died with Christ, you are effectively taking that sin to the cross, i.e., the truth of the cross in your life.
The rock solid truth that I am dead to sin in Christ is the cross in my life. When I compare who I am with what I just did (sinned), I experience the pain and shame of the contradiction. Something has to give! Either I stop sinning or I back off my commitment and stand of faith, i.e., I stop believing I died with Christ and am therefore dead to sin. The sharp contradiction between who I am and what I just did is painful. Itís supposed to be. Then again, is there such a thing as a painless cross?
I can always move the cross to avoid the pain by saying, "Well, Iíll get free someday," or by countless other escape strategies. Moving the cross or completely backing off it will lessen or nullify its power in my life. On the other hand, by receiving forgiveness for and deliverance from a sin, I experience the promised peace and victory.
All the above considerations also apply to the forgiveness we have in Christ. The truth that we are forgiven in Christ is also the cross in our lives.
The Lordís Supper is simply going to the cross with all of our sins and issues.