Thursday, January 22, 2015

NTDS (51): Examine Yourselves

2 Cor 13:5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you — unless, of course, you fail the test?  NIV

Wait a minute. Was Paul suggesting that the people in the church of Corinth, whom he had written to in two lengthy letters, might not even be Christians? At first glance, it would appear that way. The word examine here in Greek means “to test” or “scrutinize’ or “to try.” Paul is telling them that they need to test themselves, to see if they really are followers of Christ. Why would he say such a thing?

When you read both letters to the Corinthian church, you can see that they had a myriad of problems. Not understanding how to distinguish between God’s grace and His desire for obedience, they fell short in a number of areas.

Paul was referring here to the fact that they had questioned His apostolic authority and sometimes looked to false teachers. All the way back in chapter six, he had rebuked them for becoming unequally yoked to unbelieving “apostles.” It may have been because of the eloquent speech and debate techniques used by these false apostles, that the Corinthians were often led astray from the truth. That is why Paul said he did not come with wisdom of the world, but in God’s truth, accompanied by His power (read chapter 10).

In following these worldly philosophies, instead of Paul’s teaching, the Corinthians had fallen into much sin. 2 Cor 12:20-21 “I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.”

Because of this, Paul exhorts them to take a hard look at themselves, test themselves to see if they are truly “in Christ Jesus.” Paul and his companions have clearly demonstrated their own faithfulness to the Lord, which he has described throughout the letter. Now it is their turn to see if that is true about them. He is hopeful that they will see where they have erred (v7), and so prove that they are “in the faith.”

This exhortation is for us as well. We need times of reflection, where we examine ourselves. If we say we are Christians, our behavior should match up to that declaration. Too many people today, following false teachers that excuse sin and do not fear the wrath of God, may be deceiving themselves, believing they are saved when they are not. Too many people say, “I love Jesus” but are completely disobedient to His commands and the teaching of scripture. Jesus stated clearly that if we are His disciples, if we truly love Him, we will obey Him, and that if we are not in obedience, we do not love Him. Want proof? Read the following verses.

John 14:23
 “Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.”

John 14:24
 “He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.”

Matt 7:21-23

21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”

2 Thess 1:8
 “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.”

So let’s examine ourselves, so that we may prove that we are “in the faith.” If we are, our behavior will prove it. We do not “obey” our way into the faith, but our faith is demonstrated by our obedience. Our obedience is motivated by love and it is empowered by the Holy Spirit, which is the evidence of our relationship with Christ.

I pray that you will all “pass the test,” but if you have any doubt after examining yourself, that you are “in Christ,” I encourage you to make your calling and election sure (2 Pe 1:10). Give your heart to Jesus today. On the right side of this blog are instructions on how to do just that.

God bless you

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