2 Corinthians 13 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
This is the third time I am coming to you. Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses. 2 I have previously said when present the second time, and though now absent I say in advance to those who have sinned in the past and to all the rest as well, that if I come again I will not spare anyone, 3 since you are seeking for proof of the Christ who speaks in me, and who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you. 4 For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, yet we will live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you.
5 Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test? 6 But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test. 7 Now we pray to God that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved. 8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth. 9 For we rejoice when we ourselves are weak but you are strong; this we also pray for, that you be made complete. 10 For this reason I am writing these things while absent, so that when present I need not use severity, in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me for building up and not for tearing down.
11 Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you.
14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.
In today’s text Paul says: Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test? It is vital that we are indeed “in the faith.” Ephesians 2:8-9 says: By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Hebrews 11:6 says: Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. So first, without faith, without believing, we cannot be saved. John 3:16 says: God so loved the world that He gave His only begottenSon, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. It is not by our own works that we are saved, that we have eternal life, but rather it is by the work of Christ, dying on the cross for our sins that we are saved. Still we must have faith in Christ’s work. We must believe that He died for our sins. Then also, without faith we cannot please God. In truth this is the same as our salvation. That’s what pleases God, that He would reward us with eternal life so that we might be with Him now and forever.
So, what is the test then, how do we examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith, if Christ is in us? 2 Corinthians 5:17 says: If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. In John 3:3-7 Jesus says: “Most assuredly, I say to you,unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Most assuredly, I say to you,unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.That which is born of the flesh isflesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” So, if we are in the faith, if Christ is in us, there should be a discernible difference in us. If people knew us before we were saved and then meet us again after we are in the faith, they should not recognize us as the same person. It should be almost as if another person was born and replaced the one they knew before. The first test then, is have we changed? Are our old ways gone or at least are they going away? Or do we still act the same way we did? Do we still follow our own desires rather than God’s desire? Do we seek Him and His rewards? The psalmist says: Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
We are not saved by what we do, but rather by what we believe. Yet, believing, being “in the faith,” should also produce a discernible difference in what we do. Ephesians 2:10 says: We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. James 2:14-20 says: What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? It is not enough only that we believe, believing should change the way we act. If we are in Christ, then He is in us. We have the Holy Spirit with us and in us. Galatians 5:16-24 says: Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Here’s the thing, the testing of ourselves, the self examination is not something we do once or even once in a while. It is something we should do every day. In Luke 9:23 Jesus says: "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Every day we should examine ourselves to see if we are “in the faith.” What John the Baptist said of himself and Christ in John 3:30, should also be true of us: He must increase, but I must decrease. Even though we are born again and we are a new creation in Christ because we believe, walking and growing in Christ is something that lasts the rest of our lives. We should test and examine ourselves and just as the test that a college student takes is harder than the test of a first grader, so too should our examination go deeper the longer that we are in Christ. Romans 8:28-29 says: God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren. Everything in our lives, all the good things that God does for us; all the bad things that the world and the devil would bring against us and all of the consequences of our own actions, are used by God to conform us to the image of Christ, His Son. Daily, we should look at what has happened and test ourselves and examine ourselves. We should deny the things that are of our old self and we should become more like Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says: We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. That should be the goal and the result of our examination that we are continually transformed to the image of Christ and the glory of God.
May the prayer and the declaration of the psalmist in Psalm 26, be our prayer and declaration:
Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, And I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. Examine me, O Lord, and try me; Test my mind and my heart. For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, And I have walked in Your truth. I do not sit with deceitful men, Nor will I go with pretenders. I hate the assembly of evildoers, And I will not sit with the wicked. I shall wash my hands in innocence, And I will go about Your altar, O Lord, That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving And declare all Your wonders. O Lord, I love the habitation of Your house And the place where Your glory dwells. Do not take my soul away along with sinners, Nor my life with men of bloodshed, In whose hands is a wicked scheme, And whose right hand is full of bribes. But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; Redeem me, and be gracious to me. My foot stands on a level place; In the congregations I shall bless the Lord. Amen.