As we meet together I trust that the Lord will bless us and as we look at 2 Corinthians 13:5, there’s so much, so much, so much in there. But we’re only going to touch on one point and I pray that as we look at just a small portion of this topic, that we’ll be encouraged to look not to each other but to look to Christ. He is the Author and the Finisher of our faith. We’re here because of what He’s done for us. He wants nothing but the best for us.
And here Paul writes that you and I, he encourages us to “examine ourselves”, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”
A Bible scholar one day was sharing this very same topic, except a lot more. Having a burden for his congregation, he wanted them to live a righteous and a holy life. And as he went on preaching, he addressed the matter head on, and listed out the sins of his congregation, of his people. Gossip, slander, judgmentalism, he went on, adultery, materialism and a lot more. Until finally he said, “if you want to be right with God, you’ve got to stop this behaviour, and start living for Jesus”.
On the surface though it sounds pretty good doesn’t it? It appears to even have Biblical tones to it, right? Of course. The danger though is, if you and I, if we follow this very pattern, we will soon end up in a web of legalism. The Word of God, brothers an sisters, scorns this type of examination, where we look to ourselves and we see all these problems. All these traits, and we get up within our own strength to manifest what is better. You see, swapping works from bad to good does not change the heart. Is that right? Swapping works from what is bad, “now I see I’m pretty bad, I realize I’ve gotta do this now”. So with all my energy I move forward and I attempt to do what is right. That does not change, it does not change the heart.
We can call, you know we can, we can call this a change yes. Its a change. We can call it a change of behaviour. Is that right? A change in our behaviour. We can also call it. We can also call it behaviour modification. We modify our behaviour. So we look good. So we look right. Its such an easy, easy temptation to fall into. I’m sure we’ve all been there. Its such a very easy thing to fall into.
May I ask a question, are you at times tempted to measure, or to examine your Christian walk based on the things you do, or things you don’t do? I have in the past. I’ve fallen into that. Measure my spirituality by things I do or things I don’t do. I’m alright. I don’t do this, yeah I’m alright. Examining behaviours as a test of salvation is not safe. Why? Ephesians Chapter 2:8-9. We read there, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” That is why. Yes definitely a change of heart will produce beautiful works. Absolutely. But its not the other way around.
I don’t have many statements tonight, I think just two or three. But one of them is this one here found in Christ Object Lessons, page 159, “No outward observances can take the place of simple faith and entire renunciation of self. But no man can empty himself of self.” No what? No outward observances. “But no man can empty himself of self. We can only consent for Christ to accomplish the work.” Are we being tempted to do this in the past, or even today? Or is this the concept that we have? That if I do it a certain way, you know it looks alright, so I’m ok. It shows that I have faith. No. “Then the language of the soul will be, Lord, take my heart; for I cannot give it.” We can’t even do that. “It is Thy property. Keep it pure, for I cannot keep it for Thee. Save me in spite of myself, my weak, unchristlike self. Mold me, fashion me, raise me into a pure and holy atmosphere, where the rich current of Thy love can flow through my soul.”
I want to memorize this. Its a beautiful prayer of faith and humility. Examine yourselves Paul writes whether ye be in the faith, prove your own selves, know ye not your own selves how that Jesus Christ is in you except ye be reprobates? What does it mean to examine? Study closely. Review closely. Just looking up the term here, to examine is to observe. Its to observe closely, study closely. To look in the mirror. To evaluate. I love this. I love this. To evaluate general health. I like that. To evaluate general health. Or determine cause of illness. That’s what it means to examine. Is it something that we should as Christians do? Is it important? Is it necessary to do that? Is it?
And notice how Paul writes, to examine, others? Did Paul write here to examine others? Yet how often do we sit and examine others? What did Paul say here? To examine oneself. This is a very, very personal work. A very personal work. So let us remember this. And if this was not important or necessary to look at us, then Paul would not have said that. We read in Mark chapter 8:36-37, “or what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
That is another reason why we ought to examine ourselves. Are we faithful to our Saviour, or not? Jeremiah 17:9, and that is why the heart, your heart, my heart deceives me. Deceives us, deceives you, each one of you. The natural heart. And that is why we need to stop and take hold of this counsel of the Apostle. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?” Who can know it? You don’t even know what is in your heart. The extent of wickedness within. You find yourself doing something one day and, whoa! Where did that come from? Did I really? Then you have to go to your brother or sister and apologize and fix it up, make amend. Where did it come from? The heart is deceitful and wicked.
We also read in Titus 1:16, do you profess to know God? Who are baptized here? We have a profession. We have made a profession. I have made a profession. Do we profess to be Christians? “They profess that they know God; but in works they…” what? What does it mean “in works they deny him”? What does that mean? In their actions? In what way? Our deportment sometimes, things we do and say, our lifestyle we live sometimes. Our dress and so on. Our mind goes there strait away. Think deeper. What is the world watching us for? We are Christians. When they see that we live like worldlings, like the unconverted, what does that make God about His work in us? About the work of the Spirit of God in us? God is what now? God is a liar to the world. If this is what the gospel does for this man, for this woman, then I don’t want God. We are giving a wrong picture, a very bad picture to the world of the works of God, the works of His Spirit in our lives. And we are all guilty of this. “In works”, so yes other things we do as well, of course. But I think if we really think carefully, I think it goes the other way as well.
We think the most beautiful gospel is Matthew, Mark, Luke and John because they give a beautiful picture account of Christ. The reality of Christ and of redemption. We are writing our own gospels too, according to Jacques, to Luke, the gospel of Chris. “They profess that they know God…”. We profess that we know God, but in works we deny him, “being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” That is why we need to stop and take up the counsel of the Apostle here, to examine our ways.
Do we say we love God, that is why we want to follow Him? We give ourselves to Christ in baptism? We profess we love Him, we are Christians. We are reminded here, 2 Corinthians 2:8, “Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.” And that is what it comes down to. Love to God.
If I may ask a question. Which is better? We mentioned earlier, behaviour modification. Which is better? A behaviourally modified holy church that has no affection for Christ? I’ll repeat that again. Which is better? A behaviourally modified holy church that has no affection for Christ? Or a behaviourally modified unholy church that has no affection for Christ? Neither. Neither. Yet how often do we find ourselves in both of those cases. [audience member: “the holy one is probably worse”]. Yes, exactly right, that is more deceiving brothers and sisters. More deceiving.
You know its very easy to look and to live the part. Its very easy to eat the right food. It is very easy to wear the right clothes. Isn’t it? It is. To even speak the right words. Its very easy. We’re experts at changing our behaviour. I’d like to share another statement here from the same book Christ Object Lessons, page 158, “No man can of himself understand his errors….The lips may express…” This is amazing. “The lips may express a poverty of soul that the heart does not acknowledge. While speaking to God of poverty of spirit, the heart may be swelling with the conceit of its own superior humility and exalted righteousness.” The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked above all things, who can know it? Who can know it? Who can know it? God.
So brothers, sisters and young people. It is desirable to examine, to prove ourselves. To know, to know we are in alignment with, or in agreement with God’s mind. Its important. its important to review this for ourselves. And to understand His will for us.
You know, Paul had an experience with a number of so-called Christians in his time, in his day. They’re real character and Christian experiences were revealed as they gathered themselves together. And these were not positive experiences. We’re not encouraging experiences, and is the reason why Paul wrote this specific message to them to examine themselves. He faced some challenges as he sought to reconcile them to Jesus. And the doctrine of this Epistle, of Corinthians is reconciliation, when you look at it. And that’s what Paul was trying to help them achieve. To be reconciled to God, to Christ. They questioned his ministry. They questioned his ministry. They questioned his messages. They didn’t like what he was telling them? The heart is deceitful, who can know it. Their spirit was rebellious in nather brothers and sisters. It is the way we are naturally. And they questioned him, his authority, they questioned who he was. Paul says, look, I will answer for myself to God, but you examine yourselves before the Lord. Prove your own selves. A personal work Paul left with them.
The times in which we live, personal examination is necessary. So we can make decisions. We can correct, by God’s grace our ways. Take steps to correct our ways and bring honour to God and to Christ. Because if we don’t, as we go through Corinthians, you can fine there you know Paul suggests that neglect to do this relate to death. We need to know what is God’s will for us and what is it that’s stopping God from blessing us as individuals and as a people.
Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith, prove your own selves, know ye not your own selves how that Jesus Christ is in you except ye be reprobates? That’s a big term. What does it mean to be a reprobate? Rejected. Someone with no hope. And I tell you what, its one thing to be rejected by your friends. It is one thing to be rejected by even your family, but it is something else to be rejected by the Holy Spirit. By God. We don’t want that. We don’t want that.
And what we’re really being asked here according to Paul i believe, is whether we have in examining ourselves, is whether we have a genuine relationship with Saviour. That’s what he’s asking. Do you have, do I have with my Saviour a genuine, clean relationship with my Saviour? And I pray that we might each ask ourselves the question. Do we have a genuine relationship with our Saviour? Are you a true Christian? Am I a true Christian? Or are you a counterfeit? Am I a counterfeit? Have you been born again? Or are we just raising a front? As the saying goes, just “faking it”. Those of us brothers and sisters who profess to be Christians ought to ask ourselves these serious and solemn questions. If our walk is a farce, then we are rejected by God, we are rejected by God and have no hope. That is why we need to stop and ponder upon these things, whether we do have this relationship, this saving faith in Christ.
Its not enough just to be a member of the church to adhere to all the moral standards in our life. Or even the fact that you daily read your Bible. Its not enough. Its not enough. A true Christian is someone in whom Christ dwells. That’s what it is. Know ye not your own selves that how Jesus Christ is in you? A true Christ, I repeat, is a soul in whom Christ dwells. And the soul in whom Christ dwells, will give evidence that Christ is within. That is why we must take that time to ponder upon the counsel here form the Apostle.
And here Paul is suggesting that, that’s what he’s asking. He’s suggesting that we ask ourselves if we have the evidence that Jesus Christ lives in you personally. Does that make sense? You know we may be asking, so how can I know that? How can I know that? And the answer is found in several portions of the Scripture. You see the Word of God speaks of an inner witness. Of an inner witness. Let’s turn our Bibles to Romans 8:16, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” You will know. You will know if you have a relationship with your Saviour. You will know. The Spirit itself testifies with our spirit. There is an inner testimony. There is an inner witness. An experience, a surety within produced by the Spirit of God who dwells within brothers and sisters that you are part of the great family of God.
The Bible also speaks of a desire; the Word of God speaks of some desire. A desire that is born in the heart of new Christians. That is born in the heart of the born again children of God. In Heavenly Places, page 144, of what we’ve just shared is obtained by believing in the Word of God. What does it mean to believe in the Word of God? What does it mean to believe in the Word of God? To accept its true, look, the devils believe and tremble. Accept and follow, by God’s grace commit it to Him. Lord I can not do it. Please help me. And He will, God is great. He will. You know when God answer our prayer sometimes we think its strange. Have you ever felt that way? He loves to answer our prayers. He hears and He answers. There’s nothing strange about it. If we ask Him we will, you know He says, you who are wicked, evil you know how to give good gifts. I’m God I’m good, why will I not do it for you? Even more.
Obtain by believing in the Word of God, by appropriating that Word to your soul. What does it mean to appropriate? apply it. Take it for you. Apply to your life. Take it. Its yours. We don’t even need to ask Him. Its yours, He’s given it to us. Take it. By His grace, take it. Apply it. And that requires faith as well. This is eating the bread of life and this will bring eternal life, compare Scripture with Scripture. Study the representation of the life of the true Christian as delineated in the Word of God.
In 1 Peter 2:2, those that appropriate the life of Christ for themselves. Those that take on board the life of Christ that He’s given us, the blessings, imparted, by God’s grace will take that with all sincerity. “As new born babes…” we read there, “desire the sincere milk of the Word that ye may grow thereby.” As new born babies crave, the Bible says. Do we crave the Word of God? We will know, we will know if we have genuine relationship. Do we crave the Word of God? I ask myself, do I crave the Word of God? If I don’t, If we don’t, then there’s a problem. We know there’s a problem. How can we grow? A child, a little on there, when I child is born, the first things after it gets a smack, what’s the next thing the nurses do? On the breast. Suck that milk. There’s life in there for that child. Everything that child needs is in there. And I tell you what, once that child gets a taste of that milk and he knows how to suck the milk, that life out, there’s no going back. Every two hours. Night day, any time.
That’s the way we are to be with the Word of God. You know the five pillars of Islam? What’s that? When I was in Seychelles I, I hadn’t seen her for years and years and years, the princess from Bahrain was there, because my aunty used to be a qualified nurse years ago and she worked all her life for the palace in Bahrain. So they have a bond between her and my aunty. Now that my uncle passed away, she came to Seychelles, she said “look I’m building a big house for you in Bahrain, I’d like you to come, live with us, I’ll take care of you.” She said to me, she says, “I’m a terrible daughter, I should have been here a long time ago.” My aunty is well like, “well I have my cats, I have…” She says, “bring your cats, I’ll bring the plan for you and I’ll pick you up and your cats, you can all come”.
I was there one day, she wanted to see me, see Isaac, talk about the family. We had a good talk and at a certain time, she said, “sorry I have to go and pray”. So she left us and went into a back room at my auntie’s house and she prayed. Do we do this with the Word of God? Do we leave what is not important and spend time with the Word? One Sabbath she came to visit, we were there having our worship as well, having lunch after, she came and before she left, she says, “Jesus is coming soon”. She’s a Muslim. She says, Jesus is coming soon. A Muslim. Is this how we speak? Look she may not have the truth as we know but in what she has she’s so sincere and she believes it.
As new born babes desire, as new born babies crave milk, we too, the born again will crave the sincere milk of the Word so we can grow each day in Christ, in grace. Do we crave the spiritual milk so that we may grow? Do we? The evidence of a converted soul, the evidence of a renewed heart is that they have a deep and sudden thirst and hunger for the Word of God. They have a hunger; they have such a hunger to be fed. They have that. To know what truth is. To know who Christ is, what Christ is for them. To please God. They desire to know so much the One who fights for them and shields them with His righteousness. Do you have this desire? Do you honestly have this desire? Don’t answer. Something I’d like to leave with us. To leave with each one of us. Do we have this desire so much within us? That burns within?
Because now, it is no longer behaviours modification. No its not. The inner change now produces outward change. We can now honestly answer the question: is Jesus in you? We can even answer it. Without feeling shameful. Is that fair? If someone asks you, brother, sisters, is Christ in you? Can you give, and i pray that we can give that answer faithfully and say yes Christ is in me. With all honesty and genuineness.
Growing up, I thought well how do I, how do I know what’s bad in me? There are many places within the Word that testifies of this. One of them is Psalm 139:23. Let us read this together. This is how, even a child can begin there. A child can begin there. “Search me”, the prayer of the humble, “search me”. One who realizes he’s a sinner and needs a Saviour. Search me o God and know my heart, “try me and know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” Is this our prayer? Because God will answer. God will show us. And when he shows us, let us not be like those in Corinth, who said to Paul, “who are you? By who’s power are you speaking? By what authority are you coming to us?” They questioned him.
A new Christians will now see things differently. A new Christians will, what was once pleasant to him is now, he sees the disgust in what was once pleasant. And this because Christ lives in them. Light can have no part with darkness. If Christ lives within, there’s no part with darkness. We shared a few thoughts last week in Perth, Christ being the light of the world. As He came, darkness comprehended it not. We understood that that “comprehended” meant that darkness could not overcome light. Impossible. Look its the law of physics.
You know as I consider 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 just in closing, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Do we realize, that just in that verse, do we realize the magnitude of our relationship with God? Think about it. And the obligation this puts you and me under? You know to live every second as an example, as an example of God’s way of life. God’s people are not ordinary people. They are special people.
Let’s turn to, I’d just like to read two more verses. The first one is found in Proverbs 4:23, we’re reminded here to, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” The heart, the mind is the storehouse, I believe of our character. Brothers and sisters, young people. We must spend time in meditation. We must spend time in prayer before the Lord. Asking God to reveal to us exactly, and He will, who we are. Not outside. Who we are inside. Who we are inside. Ask Him! Where only God sees. Only God sees what’s inside. Even we ourselves don’t even know what’s inside. Ask Him. Let us implore Him for understanding about who we really are right now, this moment. Not in the eyes of brothers and sisters, but in His eyes. Ask Him to show us who we really are. It is solemn, sobering, but its something that must be by His grace accomplished.
And in 2 Corinthians 2:8, its the last verse I’d like to leave with us. And as we go to the Lord and ask Him to reveal to us, His action will not be one that will only touch on the surface, but one that will reveal to ourselves, each one, what really is deep down into our hearts. Into every room of the heart. 2 Corinthians 2:8, “Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.” Have you done this? Have you, what to confirm? What’s another word that will help us appreciate better? Another word? Strengthen, to affirm your love towards Him. And as love for Christ becomes a reality in our lives, brothers and sisters, Psalm 119:57-60 tells us, as this becomes a reality in our life, this will be our prayers. “Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy words. I entreated thy favour with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word. I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.”
Do we love the Lord? These are the things we need to consider, as we meet together this weekend. And reaffirm, strengthen our love. Especially in light of what God, Christ has done for us. Is Christ our portion? Is He our portion? May God help us brothers and sisters as we meet together this weekend to consider these things. I’d like us to reflect seriously on the practicality of our relationship with our Saviour as we meet together. And pray that as we have considered these things together, the Spirit of God may touch us, the Spirit of God may not give us rest until we have understood God’s will for us exactly. That He may not give us rest, until we have laid everything at the foot of the cross and exclaim Lord search me and show me what is within and with your help, help me to love you. Give me a new heart so I can represent you faithfully. May God help us and guide us and especially encourage us as we meet together is my prayer in Jesus name, Amen.