Examine Your Faith
“Examine yourselves to see if your faith is really genuine. Test yourselves. If you cannot tell that Jesus Christ is among you, it means you have failed the test.“ – Vs 5 NLT
Paul ends his letter to the Corinthians with a challenge. He tells them that he is going to be coming to see them again, but prior to his visit he challenges them to test themselves. He wants them to examine themselves to see if their faith is real or not. In the Greek, the word yourselves is placed first for emphasis: “yourselves, examine.” They are to take a corporate look at their collective faith. He wants them to “examine” themselves to prove the worth or genuineness of their faith. The word he uses for faith is pistis and in this context it denotes profession. The Corinthians were professing a belief in Christ, but was their life matching that profession? If the life of the congregation is not in conformity with the truths of the gospel, it negates any claim to standing firm in the faith. Paul reminded Timothy, “ I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15 NASB). The church holds up the truth of the gospel by the manner in which we live it out. We prove the gospel true with our lives. When we profess one thing and do another, we undermine the foundation of the life-transforming claims of the gospel message. That is why Paul was challenging the Corinthians to examine themselves. He knew that true profession results in true life change and a life characterized by “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV). When those things are lacking within the community of Christ, there is cause to do some serious self-examination regarding our profession.
Paul even uses a little bit of sarcasm to get his point across. He says, “If you cannot tell that Jesus Christ is among you…” He questions whether they even have the capacity to recognize Christ’s presence among them. Paul is not really asking if Jesus is indwelling the individual. That is ultimately where he is headed. but what he seems to be saying is that the condition of their fellowship was such that it was almost impossible for them to recognize Christ as being active right in the midst of them. They had reached a point where they were failing to recognize the authority of Paul and the activity of God in the middle of their fellowship. They were questioning Paul’s apostleship, ignoring God’s activity in their lives, and were out of touch with genuine evidence of the Spirit’s work in their community. Don’t we run the same risk? We can reach a point where we are no longer able to recognize God’s activity among us as His people.
As the people of God we should be experiencing and expecting the power of God to be at work in our midst. If it is not, then we must do some serious examination of what it is we say we believe. We must examine ourselves to see if our faith is really genuine. If we do not see God’s activity in and around us, Paul says we fail the test. Our profession is not real. Fruitlessness is the sign of a dead faith.
Paul’s prayer was that they would do what is right (Vs 8), that they be made complete (Vs 9), be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace, so that God of love and peace would be with them (Vs 11). Paul’s desire was that they examine themselves. He wanted them to wrestle with the reality of whether or not their profession of having saving faith was real. And this was not just to be an individual examination, but a group effort. As a congregation, they were to take a up-close and personal look at each others’ lives to see whether they were exhibiting the fruit of a genuine faith in Christ. For the church to uphold the truth, it must live out the truth. It must stand on the truth. It must prove the viability and reliability of the truth through daily life together. So that the world may know that the gospel really does work.
Father, give us the strength and the guts to examine ourselves to see if our faith is real. Help us to be honest and examine whether or not what we say we believe is what we really do believe – as individuals and as the body of Christ. May we be willing to ask why we do not see Christ more active among us. The problem is not with Him, but with us. Reveal to us the true nature of our confession so we can experience the true nature of the gospel. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men