The Relationship Between the Cup and the Scattered Fire (continued)
The Cup Marks A Separation
But then there are other things about the cup. This cup sets forth and represents the absolute holiness and apartness of Christ, and of all that is related to Christ. You remember First Corinthians ten: 'You cannot drink of the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons' (verse 21); you cannot bring there together. It betokens a failure to recognize the utter apartness of two whole realms. This cup speaks of that apartness, that holiness, that separateness of Christ and all that is Christ's. It marks the difference, the fundamental and radical difference, between the Christian and everyone else.
That is the whole argument of the First Letter to the Corinthians. Throughout that letter we have an unlawful bringing together of things, focused in that unlawful bringing together at the Lord's Table. It is a terrible letter, which really does center in this matter of the cup. What the Apostle is doing is seeking to point out that there is a discrimination that must be exercised, a difference that must be discerned. It is a question, not of degrees of Christian life, but of the very basis and nature of the Christian life - that a Christian is this, and not that. These things are separated by the cup. The cup is something very holy, something very separate, something very different; and if you and I drink the cup, we are supposed to be different from everyone else, that is, from everyone who is not the Lord's. There is a character required by this cup, a character that is different. The cup declares that. It challenges everything that does not belong to Christ: it stands against that, because that is against the cup. This is a holy thing.
No wonder the Apostle was so strong on this matter - and no wonder that distressing and tragic things were happening in Corinth! "For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and not a few sleep" (verse 30) - through not discriminating at the Lord's Table. It is searching.
But note, again, this cup deals with and removes all the ground of satan. satan's ground, of course, is the ground of nature: your nature and mine - what we are in ourselves. That is the playground of satan. The cup deals with that and takes satan's ground from him; it put him out. That is why Judas had to go: the cup drove him out. The very significance of the cup meant that he was not of it: he was of another; he must go. He is satan's ground in the holy circle, and he must be eliminated.
The Unifying Work of the Cup
But then again, the cup is the great unifying factor for the Lord's own. It is in the first place the great means of unification with Himself, for it is our common participation with Him. The cup links us with Christ. It not only distinguishes us as His, as different, but it declares a relationship which is - to use the symbolism - most truly a blood-relationship. In the second place, it establishes a relationship of that kind between all who are joined to the Lord. The cup is that which unifies His own.
(continued with # 4)