2 Corinthians 13:5-8
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.”
If we are going to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith then we must examine ourselves and our beliefs and our practices against the teachings of the Scriptures, particularly in the New Testament. And we must evaluate if our lives agree or disagree with the teachings on salvation and on eternal life with God and on the Christian life and what it is to look like.
Now, we can’t cherry pick the Scriptures we like and discard the ones we don’t like, and we can’t pull Scriptures out of context and willfully misinterpret them out of their context. Honestly, to do a fair evaluation, we should read word for word from Matthew through Revelation. And we must look at all teachings aimed at those who are to be followers of Jesus Christ.
Now there are many preachers out there telling you what to believe, and they are presenting to you their thinking on what the Scriptures teach, but not many of them today are teaching the gospel taught by Jesus and by his New Testament apostles. They may all be teaching the fundamentals regarding who Jesus is and why he came to the earth and what he did by dying on that cross for our sins, but from there it splits.
Few appear to be teaching what the Scriptures teach in their fulness. Most appear to be teaching a distorted and altered version of the gospel of Christ. Although on the surface these two teachings may appear to look the same, they are not the same. The version of the gospel that is most popular today and which is permeating the church is based in the flesh of humans, for it appeals to the lusts of their flesh and their sinful passions and desires.
And it gives them permission to keep on in their sinful passions and desires under the guise that Jesus has forgiven and forgotten all their sins and that God can’t even see when they sin anymore. So, they make room for the flesh to live and to thrive. They do not put it to death. They see their freedom in Christ as freedom from the guilt and punishment of sin rather than freedom from their bondage (slavery, addiction) to sin.
So, those who are buying into this man-created gospel, which has the appearance of being the same as the true gospel, they are drifting and wandering through life living for the pleasures of their flesh, just slip-sliding away through life as though it is one big party. But it is all about feelings and fleshly appetites and not about holiness and righteousness. And it is all about their personal comfort rather than obedience to Jesus Christ.
And this is why we must examine ourselves and our lifestyles and our beliefs against the whole of the New Testament where it is directed towards faith in Jesus Christ and what it means to believe in Jesus and to follow him and to be forgiven of sin and to have eternal life with God. We must not just listen to preachers or writers of devotions or books, but we must listen to the word of God and get our truth from there, in context.
Pass or Fail?
Now Paul did give us a couple of hints here, although he certainly wasn’t hinting in what he said. He was direct. He prayed to God that they may not do wrong but that they may do what is right. And the measure of what is wrong and what is right is found in the Scriptures. He also stated that he and the other apostles cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth, and we will find what is truth by reading the Scriptures word for word.
So, what is truth? Well, Jesus said that if anyone would come after him he must deny self, take up his cross daily (daily die with Christ to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. For, he said if we save our lives (if we hold on to living in sin and for self) that we will lose them for eternity. But if we lose our lives (die with him to sin and to self) for his sake, we will live (Lu 9:23-26; cf. Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Matt 7:21-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9).
Then Paul said that the truth that is in Christ Jesus says “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (See Eph 4:17-24; cf. Tit 2:11-14; Gal 5:16-21; Rom 6:1-23).
And the Scriptures teach that Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. He shed his blood for us on that cross to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so that we would honor God with our lives. And by faith in Jesus we are crucified with Christ in death to sin so we will no longer be enslaved to sin but to righteousness (1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co 5:15, 21; 1 Co 6:19-20; Rom 6:1-23; 1 Jn 3:4-10).
And then we have all the Scriptures which tell us that we are all going to be judged by God according to our works. So, if we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction. But if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life. And if sin is what we practice, we will not inherit eternal life, but if righteousness and obedience are what we practice, then we will have eternal life with God.
[Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; 2 Co 5:10; 1 Co 6:9-10; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Rom 6:16; Rom 8:1-17; Jn 15:1-11; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rev. 2-3; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27]
The Scriptures do not teach that we can believe in Jesus, be forgiven our sins, be guaranteed heaven when we die, but that we can keep on in deliberate and habitual sin against the Lord. They do not teach that we don’t have to repent of our sins nor follow Jesus in obedience nor submit to him as Lord. They teach the opposite of this. They teach that we must forsake our lives of sin and follow Jesus in obedience if we want eternal life with God.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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