II CORINTHIANS 13:5-6: “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. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.” (NKJV)
OBSERVATION: When was the last time you “examined” yourself? Is it even important to do so? Many would object that self examination is counter to the teaching of grace. Yet, it is not some pop-psychologist that is calling us to examine ourselves, it is the Apostle Paul!
Why was Paul so emphatic about this command to the Corinthian Church? Was it simply because he knew more than they did, and was standing in judgment over them? Or, perhaps, was it because he knew more about personal pitfalls and deception than most? I believe it was the latter. Listen to some of Paul’s statements regarding himself.
- “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” (Romans 7:15-20 NKJV)
- “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (I Corinthians 10:12 NKJV)
- “For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (I Corinthians 15:9-10 NKJV)
Paul knew all to well – “There but by the grace of God go I.” Paul did not persecute the church as a flaming heathen. No, he persecuted the church as a devout Pharisee. He thought, with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength – that he was doing the right thing. Paul knew how easy it was to be self deceived, to slip away from the will of God, and so he warns the Corinthians, and us – examine yourselves!
This is not some navel gazing introspection of our humanity. Rather, it is an examination of our path, our passion, and our purity. Are we walking in the footsteps of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Are we walking according to the principle of sacrificial love? Are we living our life in the light of the truth of God’s Word? In other words – as we run the race of life – are we staying in our lane? A runner is disqualified if he or she moves outside of the boundary of their lane during the race. Paul’s desire is that all finish well, that all win the prize, that all hear the words from Jesus – “Well done thou good and faithful servant!”
So, how do we examine ourselves? There is only one way. It is not by comparing ourselves with others. It is also not by comparing ourselves with what a preacher or evangelist says. It is not based on feeling, emotions, or our circumstances. The only way we can examine ourselves is by placing our lives under the illumination of the Holy Spirit through the light of God’s Word! It is only the written, unchangeable, ultimately authoritative, holy and redemptive Word of God that can truly discern our heart! And we all need a heart checkup regularly!!
- “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:11-13 NKJV)
Lord, thank you for Your Word that is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Shine upon me today and reveal anything that needs changing. Convict my heart of any area of my life where I have drifted away from Your will. Grant me the grace to repent, return, and do the first works of love and righteousness that I have been redeemed for.
In Jesus Name!