Examine Yourselves

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2Cor. 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
The Scripture informs every Christian of the need to examine their lives. Every Christian should be able to prove they are “in” the faith and that Christ is actually “in” them. Paul states a truth often overlooked in the modern church which is this – every born-again Christian can and should know the state of their soul. Paul recognizes that a person can be religious and a member of a community of believers but not himself/herself be born of the Spirit of God. If they do not know if Christ is in them, Paul suggests, it is because they are not in the faith at all and the Spirit of Christ is not in them. Paul uses the word “reprobate” which means depraved or worthless. Strong words. The idea is this - if there is one thing a follower of Christ ought to know, beyond any doubt, is whether or not Christ is in them. If we do not know, Paul wants to know why, and he puts forth the question “is your entire religious life worthless?”

We do not have to be a theologian to be saved but we do have to be born of the Holy Spirit. Every person legitimately born-again is more than a religious person; the World is full of religious people who are willing to die for their faith but they are not born of the Spirit of Christ. A genuine born-again Christian is inhabited by the Spirit of Christ and he/she is a new creation just as the Scripture says “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation, old things are passed away, behold all things become new.” 2Cor. 5:17.

1John 2:4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
One good way to “prove” whether or not we are in the faith is to honestly evaluate our relationship with the Word of God. Do I believe the Bible and do I live by what it says? Do I have a biblical worldview or do I have a personal war with the Bible and especially with bible-believing Christians; do people who quote scripture rub me the wrong way? Do I accept biblical views of morality, gender, and marriage? Where am I in relation to the written Word?

Why is my relationship with the Bible a test of whether I’m in the faith, or not? Good question and the answer should be obvious. The Holy Spirit is the Author of the Bible, 2Tim. 3:16-17 NLT “ All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. If we are born of the Spirit of God then there will be an inward agreement with who God is and with what He says. Those in whom the Spirit of Christ dwells are not at war with what God says! If there is an inward struggle with the written Word perhaps you need to make a decision. Are you going to believe the Scriptures as written, and live by them, or, are you going to continue your silent war with the Word of God?

1John 2:5-6 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
If Christ is in us and if we are abiding in Him then we are growing in love for God and for one another. It is not enough to say Christ is in us, there must be clear and objective evidence that we are in Him and He in us. Verse 6 says the evidence of our relationship with God is that our heart is being perfected in the love of God. We are putting off our envy, jealousy, anger, bitterness, hatred, and we are forgiving those who have offended, used, abused, or hurt us in any way. We are no longer living for ourselves but growing in the love of God and our growth in love is the evidence that something larger than ourselves is at work on the inside and that indeed our faith is genuine.

1John 2:15-17 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
John puts his finger on our relationship with the World. He says, “if we love this World then the love of the Father is not in us!” John says things like this; He draws a line and asks which side are you on? Is my life about possessions, do I work so I can have more? Can I be satisfied with less of this World and more of God? What if the cost of spiritual growth is having less of this World, less possessions, less achievements, and  less worldly pleasures? Jesus says we can't serve two masters. 1John says if we love the World the love of God is not in us. Whatever or whoever we love will have first place.

There are teachers who relate godliness to money, meaning if you are a godly person God will reward your faith with worldly possessions, 1Tim. 6:5. We are warned to stay away from these people and flee their doctrines; we are to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness, and eternal life, not money, 1Tim. 6:11-12.

1John 2:22-24 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
One of the proofs that Christ is in us is our belief that Jesus is the “Christ.” He is Emmanuel, literally God with us. Matt 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Being born of a woman, Jesus is fully man but described by John as existing from the beginning and referred to as the Word of God. John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. If we deny the deity of Christ then we are not born of God, Christ is not “in” us, and we are not in “the” faith. If we believe that Jesus Christ is Lord then we are in relationship with Jesus and also with the Father. Also, we are "in" the faith.

1John 3:8-10 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
What is our relationship with sin? Jesus, according to 1John 3:8 came to destroy the works of the devil, which practically speaking is a life of sin. The devil lives a life of sin and his work is to lead us into a life of sin. If Jesus is living in us then we will not be giving ourselves to the lifestyle of the devil. Rather, Jesus will be destroying that lifestyle and leading us into a life of godliness. More to the point. Jesus became a man, died, and then rose from the dead so that His people could have an eternal victory over sin. His redemptive work destroys the dominion of sin and destroys the works of the devil. Again, just saying you know Jesus is way too easy, the acid test that Christ is in you is are you destroying the works of the devil? Are you growing in love for God and others? Are you putting off the old and putting on the new, are you walking out the gift of righteousness in your practical everyday life? God hates evil, do you hate evil?

Phil. 2:12-13Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
We are to examine ourselves to determine if we are in the faith. Philippians 2:12 says to work hard to show the results of our salvation meaning we are to be diligent so that we can possess the new life Jesus has called us to live. As followers of Christ we are called to be Salt and Light in this World, we are called to show the World who Jesus is by demonstrating His victory over the devil. So, are you in the faith? Are you Salt and Light to this World? Are you overcoming the devil? Are you a witness to the redemptive victories of Jesus? Not the politically correct, non-judgmental Jesus, but are you a witness of the Jesus of the Bible who came to destroy the works of the devil? Are you a witness of the Jesus who died to cleanse His followers from sin?

21 Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.
If we're a religious or spiritual person with many good works it's way too easy to assume a good relationship with God because of our many wonderful works - and it's way too easy to assume God would never reject a person like me. If we are wise we will take a thoughtful look at Matt. 7:21-23 and hear what is being taught, which is this - God will never accept the substitution  of good works for obedience to His Word. Matthew 7 describes those who stood before Jesus and pointed to their many wonderful works as proof of their goodness. Jesus responded by saying "depart from me I never knew you, you who break God's laws". It is true these people were full of good works but they were also disobedient to the Word of God; Jesus said they were lawless. They were outwardly good but lived lives filled with compromise. They were not following Christ but following their own heart. They were religious but had their own rules about good and evil. We all need to ask ourselves the right questions: Do I allow the written Word to direct my way of life? Have I built my own doctrine of salvation around my own good works? Do I allow the Word or do I have the last word on my behavior and my lifestyle? Who defines sin, me or the Bible? Who defines righteousness? Am I a hearer only, or a doer of the written Word? Have I replaced what God says with my many wonderful works?

"Examine yourself whether ye be in the faith", have a thorough and thoughtful look at your life. It's worth the effort. 

 God bless you,
Jim

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