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? 2 Cor. 13:5, NIV
Not very many people like tests. We would rather assume that we know what we are supposed to know or are qualified to do what we want to do. However, examining ourselves is a good thing. It is not to bring fear or condemnation, but to give us a realistic appraisal of ourselves - what we are doing right and where we need to improve.
Paul even instructed the Corinthians to test themselves to see if they were really Christians or if they were floating along on an emotional or intellectual current. This is not a test we want to fail on Judgment Day! Much better to examine ourselves now. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to search our hearts and reveal the Truth to us.
So how do we examine ourselves? Here are some ideas.
Have you ever accepted Jesus Christ as your Saviour? You may have been born into a Christian home, but you cannot be naturally born into a relationship with Jesus Christ. You cannot simply become a Christian by adopting a certain lifestyle or by agreeing to certain Truths. Even the devils know the truth, but they are not saved. It requires personally repenting of the sin nature and accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
Is Jesus Christ the Lord of your life? Do you look to Him through His Word as the ultimate Lawgiver in your life? Do you recognize His right to rule from the centre of your heart over your entire life? The Lordship of Jesus Christ is not an option. Granted, we are all imperfect disciples. We all fall and struggle at times. But do you recognize and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Master of your life with the right to set all the rules? When properly understood, His rules are good and bring life to us.
Watch your words. Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. We can deceive ourselves in many ways, but if we will listen to what is coming out of our mouth we can have a glimpse of our heart condition. Is it full of anger, bitterness, criticism, jealousy etc. or is it praise to God, thankfulness, love, joy etc.? If our heart condition is not what it should be, then it is time for genuine repentance.
Do we love the Word of God? All the great men and women of God throughout the centuries have had a love for the Word of God. We can have an intellectual interest in the Word of God and study it as we would any great work of literature, but that is not love for the Word of God. We read and study the Word of God because we love Him, we want to know Him…and we want to apply it in our lives so that we are obeying Him.
Does our love of God and desire to please Him drive our actions, or do we do ‘good works’ because it makes us feel good or other people accept or admire us. This goes to motivation. Some people may do great works - even casting out devils and healing the sick - yet hear the words from Jesus, “I never knew you.” Why do we do what we do? Very important question to ask.
From time to time we need to pause and examine ourselves in the presence of God. Are we on track? Are we doing what He wants us to do or what we want to do in His Name?
These are 12 questions John Fletcher [1729-1785] used to ask himself each day. I am not suggesting that we should ask them every day, but it would certainly be good to review them every once in awhile.
1. Did I awake spiritual, and was I watchful in keeping my mind from wandering this morning when I was rising?
2. Have I this day got nearer to God in times of prayer, or have I given way to a lazy, idle spirit?
3. Has my faith been weakened by unwatchfulness or quickened by diligence this day?
4. Have I this day walked by faith and eyed God in all things?
5. Have I denied myself in all unkind words and thoughts? Have I delighted in seeing others preferred before me?
6. Have I made the most of my precious time, as far as I had light, strength, and opportunity?
7. Have I kept the issues of my heart in the means of grace, so as to profit by them?
8. What have I done this day for the souls and bodies of God’s dear saints?
9. Have I laid out anything to please myself when I might have saved the money for the cause of God?
10. Have I governed well my tongue this day, remembering that “in a multitude of words there wanteth not sin”?
11. In how many instances have I denied myself this day?
12. Do my life and conversation adorn the Gospel of Jesus Christ?