“Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Paul admonished the church in Corinth and enjoined each and every one of them to evaluate themselves to determine the genuineness of their Christian faith. This evaluation is important among Christians today. Most often we think that all is well even when we compromise and deviate from God's will.
King David in his own case did not want to examine himself; he decided to yield himself to God to ascertain his faithfulness. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life” (Psalm 139:23-24). This is the prayer of King David, the man after God's heart.
“Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him” (Luke 2:41-45).
The greatest mistake any Christian can make is to assume that Christ is with him when He is not. The parents of Jesus made the mistake physically and went a day's journey before they realized that their assumption was wrong. Many Christians are spiritually repeating this same mistake. Only personal examination will help us realize our errors and drive us to seek Jesus genuinely. Every believer should speak for himself/herself and not assume they’ll make it to Heaven.
Paul believed Christians in Corinth should test themselves. Is it wrong if I deduce that there is both genuine and fake faith? It is obvious that there are Christians with false faith who do not want to obey God but have the assurance that the Kingdom of God is theirs because they believe in Christ. It is obvious that Paul wrote this epistle to the church and not to the unbelievers; will those who fail this test be counted worthy?
Personal examination of our Christian lifestyle and stewardship is very important in answering this question. We are saved by grace through faith, no doubt about this. But shall we continue in sin so that grace may abound? Paul answered this question with, “God forbid!” (Romans 6:1-2 ). We do not have to work to be saved, but as soon as we come to Christ, works start.
Examining ourselves is part of the work of monitoring and evaluating our Christian life. We cannot continue to live carelessly in disobedience and claim that Jesus is among us. Today we have armed robbers, fraudsters, prostitutes and transgender people who claim to have intimate relationship with Christ. If only these people were helped to properly evaluate their Christian faith, they would surely realize their follies and go back and search for Jesus just like His parents did when they realized that they left Him in Jerusalem.
The emergence of false teachers has worsened the situation of those who have left Jesus behind in their Christian journey. They have encouraged them to continue in their ways and have assured them that all they need to make it to Heaven is simply to believe in God. They have forgotten that even the devil believes and trembles: “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror” (James 2:19). Are demons going to make Heaven? Of course not.
In His last words to the Apostle John in Revelation, Jesus suggested that we should not even examine ourselves any longer but should continue with our ways: “Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy. Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done” (Revelation 22:11-12). Are believers not part of those to whom this message is addressed?
The above statements by Jesus Himself are alarming. Both Christians and unbelievers should, as a matter of urgency, examine themselves. Jesus further said, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” (Revelation 22:14-15).
There are people who entered the gate of God's kingdom and others remained outside. Remember that faith without work is dead! Let us regularly examine ourselves and reject all ungodly lifestyles. Our eternal life depends on this.