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
Paul was probably not asking them if they were Christians, just to examine themselves to see if they were demonstrating that they were in the faith; that Christ was in them because they obeyed His will. To fail the test was to be disobedient and subject to God’s discipline.
According to Jer 17:5-8 the pathway to blessings and cursing from God is very clear:
5 Thus says the LORD, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind
And makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the LORD.
6 “For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes,
But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant.
7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD.
8 “For he will be like a tree planted by the water that extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.”
If the ways of blessing and cursing are so clear why would anyone choose the path of sin? The reason is the natural condition of the heart. It is so deceitful that Jeremiah wondered who could even understand it.
The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?
God answers Jeremiah by informing him that only He, God, can search the heart and examine the mind. God knows the innermost thoughts and motives of each heart that we so easily hide from other people and He can treat us as our deeds deserve.
Self examination is something each Christian should take very seriously. It should be engaged in with fear and trembling, a holy awe.
Tremble, and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still.
It is something we should do seriously and with diligence.
I will remember my song in the night; I will meditate with my heart; And my spirit ponders.
Lamentations 3:40 tells us to “examine and probe our ways.” Webster’s says “probe” means to test or to prove, investigate thoroughly. David said we should lie on our bed at night and investigate the content and condition of our hearts.
We should pray for God’s help in this matter:
Examine me, O LORD, and try me; Test my mind and my heart.
Remember what Jeremiah said about the natural propensity of the heart of mankind in general? Do we think that without God’s help in investigating the condition of our hearts we will do an accurate job of it?
Here is a familiar Psalm, one that we sing;
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
Psalm 139:23, 24
Finally, we must do this self examination on a regular basis for a reason. And that, of course, is so that we may do something about what we find. John, in his epistle says if any of us say we are without sin, we are liars. So, when we examine ourselves, we know ahead of time, to a certain extent, what we will find.
David agrees with the advice given in Lamentations 3:40 . . .
I considered my ways,
And turned my feet to Thy testimonies.
No matter how close we are walking with the Lord right now, regular examinations of ourselves, by ourselves with the help of God will improve the quality and closeness of our relationship with Him. This is one habit it will be good for each of us to cultivate.