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! 2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV
Scripture calls us to examine ourselves. For what purpose? To make sure our faith is genuine.
I don’t know about you, but I find that thought pretty sobering. After all, faith saves us and ushers us into the kingdom of God. If our faith isn’t genuine, dear one, we can’t claim the promises that come through it.
Heaviness grips my heart for the body of Christ. Half-truths and deceptions have woven their way into our theology. If we allow them to remain, beloved, I fear it will cost us dearly.
Take a moment to ponder Jesus’ words from Matthew 7:13-14.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
Jesus said the way that leads to life is hard, and few actually find it.
Yet the message often heard from our pulpits suggests something else. “It’s easy to come to Jesus. You just have to pray a simple prayer inviting Him into your heart, and it’s done.”
I wonder, dear one. Why would Jesus tell us it’s hard if it’s so easy?
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting that anything other than faith in Jesus Christ ushers us into eternal life with the Father. I’m suggesting that you and I ought to be certain we know what that means.
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.
You and I need to know, dear one. Is the faith we profess to have truly saving faith? Or when examined against the entirety of the Word of God, will we find that it falls short?
Jesus said some things that we find a little too easy to ignore.
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25
You and I certainly want to follow Jesus into heaven. But are we willing to do what He says is required to do so? Will we lose our worldly lives for His sake? Or are we trying to use Him to achieve the life in this world we desire?
On another occasion Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).”
Scripture offers several warnings about the dangers of “looking back.” Yet that’s our tendency. We often look back with longing on the life Jesus seeks to rescue us from.
That’s what happened to Lot’s wife. God chose her for deliverance from the punishment about to descend on the immoral. Yet as He was leading her away to safety, she looked back with longing on the life she was leaving and became a pillar of salt.
She missed the deliverance God intended for her because her heart had grown attached to the world she was living in, defiled though it was. She loved the things of the world more than she loved God, and it became her downfall.
Jesus said in Luke 17:32-33.
Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.
Jesus calls us out of a world defiled by immorality. That’s the point of the redemption poured out on the cross. He offers the power to free us from our attachment to sin and worldly philosophies so that we can know Him and walk in His righteousness.
Do you desire to be rescued from the world, beloved? Or do you find that your heart longs for what it offers?
If your heart longs more for the things of the world, you may be standing on dangerous ground.
. . . Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4
You see, saving faith in Jesus Christ can’t occur without repentance. We must desire to leave behind our life of sin and embrace God’s righteousness. And we must believe that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross offers the means to accomplish it.
And that’s the most beautiful part, dear one. Becoming righteous has nothing to do with our efforts to clean ourselves up. It’s about believing and receiving what Christ did. And as we spend time with the Lord we profess, our belief in His Word changes our thoughts and attitudes to make us like Him.
Behold, He is coming soon. Take hold of Jesus’ words, dear one.
“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36