“Are You Really Saved?” The Painful Process of Self-examination
“I been gone for a minute, now I’m back with the blog post…”. Hey y’all!! I know, I know, I have not written anything in months, but I am back! And with a sensitive and hard hitting, yet necessary subject, at that. Have you ever been surprised to find out someone was a Christian because of the way they lived their lives? Maybe the only way you knew they were a Christian is because they professed it with their mouth and you were left perplexed, wondering how to reconcile what they were telling you versus what you could see. That is what I want to chat about today. Let me first put out a disclaimer: I DO NOT intend to cause blood bought believers to question their salvation! We have ALL sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and will never be sinless until Jesus returns and we enter the phase of glorification. This is not a debate on the doctrine of the preservation of the saints, better known as eternal security aka “once saved always saved” vs. those who believe you can in fact lose your salvation. Instead, my intentions of writing this post with the help and power of the Holy Spirit, is to dig into the biblical truths that admonish us to examine ourselves to determine if we are truly in and of the Christian faith. You ready? Let’s look at what our God has to say regarding the matter!
I want to begin with a scripture that deals with this very topic, 2 Corinthians 13:5:
“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!”
This is Paul speaking to the church at Corinth who he was planning to visit for a third time soon. Paul founded the church at Corinth on his first visit there, where after he was promised by God that he would be protected so that he could “keep on speaking, and not be silent”, Paul stayed with the Corinthians, teaching them for a year and a half (Acts 18:9-11). Some of the members of the congregation had begun questioning Paul’s position, authority, and authenticity of apostleship. They were blatantly insinuating or should I say plainly stating that he was not genuine and boldly demanded Paul give them proof that his words were truly from Christ (2 Corinthians 13:3). So much so, that Paul felt compelled to break out his resume, “boast of his weaknesses”, and inform the people of his approval by God to preach the gospel (2 Corinthians 11; 12:1-8). After Paul obliges the people with his credentials, we find him in the above text asking them to do the same, to prove themselves.
You all know I am a word girl, let’s dig into the Greek word here for examine. Dokimazo (dok-im-ad’-zo), which means:
“I put to the test, prove, examine; I distinguish by testing, approve after testing, I am fit.”
Word Study: properly, to try (test) to show something is acceptable (real, approved); put to the test to reveal what is good (genuine)
Acceptable, real, approved, and genuine. All words that connote a question of profession vs. action; orthodoxy (beliefs) vs. orthopraxy (practice of beliefs). Paul is getting at the heart of the matter, when he asks the Corinthians to “examine yourselves”. Specifically, he is challenging them to call into question if they simply made a profession of the faith or had they begun to truly live it out? Today, this would look like a person claiming they are vegan but still eating bacon, eating cheese, and drinking milk. Some of the Corinthians claimed to be believers in Christ Jesus, yet they were still engaging in sexual immorality and idolatry. Their words and beliefs were not aligned with their actions. The people needed to take a long hard look at themselves to determine if they passed the test of being in the faith. Now to some, Paul’s words may seem condescending, judgmental, or harsh because we live in a world where even as Christians, we do not like to have hard conversations. It is uncomfortable for many of us to call out those that we love, even when we can clearly see the way they are living is contradictory to God’s Word. If I can push it even further, some churches have normalized “only God knows their heart”, “only God can judge” “or never question someone’s salvation, that is between them and God” statements. This is harmful and a detriment to advancing the Kingdom of God with true disciples. There is in fact a way to lovingly ask a person to test themselves as well as a way for God to provide the answer to that test.
How do we know if we pass the test?
Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? —unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”
The Jesus in a person is what determines whether he or she passes the test. Paul’s statement is a question of the standard of a Christian’s life. We should all be striving to look more like The Standard, Jesus Christ each and every day and the evidence of such striving should shine through in our actions. As I stated earlier, this image I am speaking of is not one of perfection. Christians will continue to struggle with sin (1 John 1:8) but the difference is our response to the struggle. If any of us continue to commit a habitual sin, with no remorse, no repentance, no boundaries, yet we claim to walk with God, we are liars and do not live in truth (1 John 1:6). In fact, the bible tells us plainly, “Whoever says, “I know him”, but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person” (1 John 2:4). If we claim to be children of God, we must live like Jesus did. We must bear fruit and the only way we will, is if He is in us! Jesus makes this very clear in John 15:4 “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
True believers do not have to strive to reach this standard on their own. In fact, it is impossible. However, the hallmark of a believer and the greatest way to determine if one passes the test, is evidence of the Holy Spirit dwelling on the inside of them. The Holy Spirit leads believers into all truth and He only speaks what he hears from Jesus (John 16:13). He is the gift promised to the disciples as a counselor who would walk alongside of them after Jesus’ ascension into heaven. He is given as a deposit to ALL believers as a sign of their inheritance into the kingdom of heaven! The Holy Spirit is who allows us to understand and fathom the secrets of God because He illuminates the Word to us. It is Him who enables us to follow hard after Jesus even when our flesh does not want us to do so. Why? Because He is the third person of the God head and He wants to help us glorify Himself. How cool is that? Conviction comes from the Holy Spirit as well. He makes a clear distinction between our fleshly desires and what pleases God the Father. We also see evidence of the Holy Spirit in us when we discover and use our spiritual gifts that come from Him (1 Corinthians 12). One of my favorite functions of the Holy Spirit is the fruit producer that He is in our lives. When you test yourself, and begin to see love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, you can rest assure that Jesus is in you! These are not fruit that can be produced on your own and in your flesh, but only through the power of the Holy Spirit.
I want you to pause for a minute and ask yourself the following questions:
· Do I live to please God?
· Is there any evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in my life?
· Do I pray often and earnestly?
· Do I have a desire to read the Word of God?
· When I sin, am I convicted? Do I repent and ask for God to show His way?
· Do I forgive others who have wronged me, even if this is a long hard process?
Let’s look at some attributes of a Christian with scriptures that show us what a follower of Christ should be striving to look like:
· Love for God above anyone else: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength”. Deuteronomy 6:5
· Love for others: “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself”. Matthew 22:39
· Prayerful: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2
· Student of the Word of God: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
· Doer of the Word: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22
· A repentant heart: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me”. Psalm 51:10
· A forgiving heart: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you”. Matthew 6:14
· Witness to unbelievers: “We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20
These attributes are not an exhaustive list by any means and some of us may be better at them than others. The point is that we want to do these things, even when we fail miserably at them, because we want to please God. We want to commune with Him and we want to look more like Him, because we belong to Him. Prayerfully, this post was just a confirmation that Jesus Christ does lives in you, and that you are in the faith.
However, if you find that you did not pass the test and you do not see any evidence of Jesus in your life you still have time to confess your sins, ask for forgiveness, and “declare with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). God is faithful and just to forgive you and welcome you with open arms into the family. If you have any questions or simply want to dialogue further, feel free to email me as well!
That is all I have for now. Know that I am praying for you all! Until next time, whatever you do, do it ALL for the glory of God.