2 Corinthians 13:5
“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?”
This verse carries two vital commands. First, we are told to examine ourselves, then we are told to test ourselves. Both carry the idea of looking at our lives in the light of the Word of God, to determine whether or not we are truly saved. Not all exams are of equal importance, but this is a test we must not avoid, or fail. What is at stake is not a low-grade in class, or the possibility of summer school, but where we will spend eternity.
“Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?”
The first question on the test is whether or not you have received Christ. John wrote, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, . . .” (John 1 :12). He went on to explain that we receive Him when we believe. It is vital to ask yourself: have you recognized you are a sinner, that your sins have eternally separated you from God, and there is no effort that can be made on your part to remove those sins? Then we must realize, Jesus Christ went to the cross in order to provide a way for sin to be forgiven and removed. If you will look to the cross, confess your sin, and believe Jesus died for you, then Christ is in you.
“You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” James 2:19
Paul wrote to people who believed they were saved. Perhaps many of them went forward, responding to an altar call, or prayed with a prayer-team member after hearing a message of salvation. Some of those who prayed may have gone out the doors and right back into the sin-filled lifestyles in which they had been living. They may have placed their confidence for eternity in a raised hand or a walk forward. James reminds us, there is a faith that saves and a faith that does not save. Paul put it like this,
“ . . .that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
Believing with the heart is more than making a one time confession; it involves the surrender of a life to Jesus. Heart believing is ‘trust in and reliance upon’. The person who has truly believed on Jesus, is the person who is walking after Him, and being changed by Him. “By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” 1 John 2:5b-6
Another important part of this exam is to look at your life before and after you made a decision to follow Jesus. How has it changed? John spoke of two very important changes that will take place in a person who is truly saved. First, he spoke of us “walking in the light.” Darkness and light are often used in the Bible to speak of sin and holiness. We are told to cast off the works of darkness or to have no fellowship with the fruits of darkness, while at the same time, being told to walk in the light. Since receiving Christ, what sins have you cast off? Are you still looking at the same things, going to the same places, drinking the same stuff? Or have you begun to examine your life in light of the cross? The best way to cast off the works of darkness is to look at the life of Christ, and to live for the things that are pleasing to Him.
“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” 1 John 2:3
John mentions another vital question on our exam. He writes, the way to discern we know Him, is that we are doing what His Word says. As you read your Bible (which you should do daily) it is important, not only that you mark it, but that it marks you. You should allow the Bible to write on your life. How has your private life, family life, public life, and church life been changed by the daily reading of the Bible? Are you loving your spouse, raising your children in the things of the Lord, seeking to influence your neighbors, co-workers, and friends to follow Christ? Are you attending and serving at your local church? Simply put, are you letting God’s Word redirect your living? These are not things to take lightly. This is not an exam that you can afford to fail. It is critical that you honestly evaluate your life, not in light of what you think, but in light of what the Bible says, and ask yourself “Am I ready to face eternity?”
Questions for 2 Corinthians 13
- As Paul wraps up this second letter of the Corinthians, we have gotten to know them pretty well. The Corinthian church had a lot of problems, but they were greatly loved by Paul, and by God. We see that God’s heart is to warn those who are sin, and to give them opportunity for repentance, before consequences become more severe. How has God warned you in your life about the consequences of sin? Is there anything in your life now that God is warning you need to change?
- Paul brought up the idea of God’s strength being made perfect in our weakness. In verses 3-4 we see that this principle was at work both in Jesus and in Paul. Read Rom 6:1-13. This principle should be in work in us as well: death to self, new life by the Spirit of God.
- In verses 5-6, the word translated as “disqualified” is a word used to test money to see if it is real or counterfeit. Paul is here telling us to examine and test our lives to see if we are really following God. The test is that actions speak louder than words. What evidence is there in your life that you are walking with God? Privately when no one is around? Personally in your relationships with others? Publicly when people look at your life and the way you live?
- Verses 7-9. Paul ultimately is writing these things so that the Corinthians would “do no evil” and “be made complete”. In other words, he wants them to be more like Jesus. Consider those in your own life that God has used to help you grow in Jesus. Have you responded to God’s work in your life? Are you still willing to let God do work in you? Pray for a soft and moldable heart to let God have His way in your life.
- In verse 10, Paul mentions that writing this letter was a way that he could say a lot of hard things to the Corinthians so that he didn’t have to do that when they were together. Sometimes writing a letter is a good way to articulate our thoughts and help us say the right things. Maybe God would have you do the same with some people you love? Even if you don’t send them a letter, writing will help you to know what is most important for you to speak to them about.
- Read verse 11. What four things does Paul tell the Corinthians to do? What is result of obedience to these things?
- Read verse 14. Paul speaks of each person in the Trinity in this verse. What does this verse teach you about God’s heart for us?