Examining Ourselves

Key Verse: “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?”
—II Corinthians 13:5, New American Standard Bible

Selected Scripture:
II Corinthians 13:1-11

SELF EXAMINATION, AS encouraged by our Key Verse, is an essential component of the Christian life. However, such examination of self must be tempered by this foundational truth of our faith: we are justified in God’s sight through our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior. We echo Paul’s heartfelt desire, to be “found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own, … but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.” (Phil. 3:9, NASB) It is a failure of faith to judge ourselves too harshly. It is also a failure of faith to judge ourselves too leniently. Such leniency may reflect the attitude that Paul rebuked, “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”—Rom. 6:1,2, NASB

“If we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.” (I Cor. 11:31,32, NASB) The Lord, in his kindness, disciplines us when we make errors in judgment regarding Christian principles. His discipline is corrective or therapeutic, not punitive. His interest in us is not to show us how fallen and weak we are, but to make us see what we can become through his grace. Apostle Paul eloquently expressed this concept in the Epistle to the Hebrews. He first quotes from the Old Testament: “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by him; for those whom the Lord loves he disciplines, and he scourges every son whom he receives.”—Heb. 12:5,6, NASB; Prov. 3:11,12

Paul then expounds on the meaning of this Scripture for us. “It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.” (Heb. 12:7-10, NASB) To become partakers of God’s holiness is a notable encouragement in our practice of self-examination.

In evaluating ourselves, it is not healthy to go to the other extreme and conclude that we are unworthy of God’s love and favor. We leave that judgment in the hands of the Lord who bought us. (John 5:22,23) “I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” (I Cor. 4:3-5, NASB) Proper self-examination is done in the light of Christ’s abundant redemption.