2 Corinthians 13:5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
5 Keep testing yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Keep examining yourselves! Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you, unless indeed you fail to meet the test?
When was the last time that we truly took a good look at ourselves? How did we feel about what we saw? When we ponder over our personality, what are we actually projecting to others? Most of us are very complex people when it comes to our thoughts, feelings and beliefs so it might be difficult to lock down what kind of personality that we have. As a man, are we faithful like Abraham one moment and then blown back and forth like doubting Thomas the next? As a female, are we submissive like Sarah when we are in public and then like domineering Jezebel in private? As a Christian, are we devoted and energetic for the truth on Christian meeting days and then loving the world like Demas the other days out of the week? As a Christian, have we entirely taken off the old person with its practices and clothed ourselves with the new person? – Colossians 3:9-10; Ephesians 4:20-24.
Some women are known to spend much time every morning, ‘putting on their face,’ as it is commonly expressed. So much so, it has been commonly joked about, and men know not to interfere until the project is over. However, truth be told, men are very much concerned with how they look when going out into public. Thus, all of us are conscious of whether our hair is out of place, if we have a pimple or a cold sore, or if there is something about us that is unkempt, ruffled, scruffy, or messy. We want to look our best. What we may have not considered is, our personality is always showing as well. The deeper question though is “are we putting on our personality to cover over before we go out in public while our real personality is on display in private?” Is what the public sees, who we really are? Does our real personality bring honor to God?
A man walking the roads of the countryside in a small European country comes to a fork in the road. He is uncertain as to which way he should go. Therefore, he asks several who are passing by for directions, but some told him to take the left fork, and others said to make the right. After receiving contradictory information, he simply did not know what to do, how was he to go on, without knowing for certain which path led to the destination. He was unable to move on until he knew what the right path was. Having doubts about our faith, our walk with God, his Word can influence us similarly. It can actually cause severe emotional turmoil as we go about our Christian life.
There was a similar situation in the first-century Corinthian congregation. Some known as “super-apostles” were actually taking the apostle Paul to task, as to Paul’s walk with God, saying, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.” (2 Cor. 10:7-12; 11:5-6, ESV) Certainly, we can see how a Christian in that congregation could wonder if they were truly walking with God when the apostle Paul himself was being call into question.
Paul founded the Corinthian congregation in about 50 C.E. on his second missionary journey. “When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.’ And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.” (Acts 18:5-11, ESV) The apostle Paul was deeply interested in the spiritual well-being of the brothers and sisters in Corinth. Moreover, the Corinthian Christians were interested in their spiritual welfare as well, so they wrote Paul for his counsel on certain matters. (1 Cor. 7:1-40) Therefore, Paul, under inspiration, offered them inspired counsel in what would be his second letter to them.
“Keep testing yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Keep examining yourselves! Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you unless indeed you fail to meet the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5) If these brothers in the days of having Paul found their congregation, who spent sixteen months under the guidance of the greatest, inspired Christian, needed to self-examine themselves, how much more should we need to do so, as we are 2,000-years removed. If these brothers followed this advice to examine themselves, it would have offered them direction on how to walk with God and let them know if they were on the right path.
Remember, Jesus warned, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 7:21, ESV) In other words, not every Christian was going to enter into the kingdom, even though they felt that they were walking with God. Jesus spoke of their mindset in the next verse, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’” (Matt. 7:22, ESV) Yes, these ones, who felt that they were walking with God, on that day they were supposing that they were truly Christian, were in for a rude awakening. What is Jesus going to say to these ones, “And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matt. 7:23) What were and are these ones lacking?
Jesus said they were not doing the will of the Father, even though they believed they were. Notice that in 98 C.E., the apostle John, the last surviving apostle, in one of his letters offered that same warning too. He wrote, “The world is passing away, and its lusts; but the one who does the will of God remains forever.” (1 John 2:17) Thus, we can see the wisdom of the apostle Paul’s counsel to ‘Keep testing ourselves to see if you are in the faith. Keep examining ourselves!’ Thus, the next question is, what do we need to do to follow this advice? How does one test whether or not they are in the faith? In addition, what does it mean to ‘keep examining ourselves after we have tested ourselves?
Keep Testing Yourselves
In a test, there is an examination of a person or an object to find something out, e.g. whether it is functioning properly or not. In this test, there must be a standard by which the person or object is measured. For example, the “normal” human body temperature is 98.6°F (37°C). Therefore, if we were testing our temperature, it would be measured against the normal body temperature. Anything above or below that would be considered high or low. Another example is the normal resting heart rate for adults, which ranges from 60 to 100 beats a minute. However, our test in this publication is to see if we are truly Christian. However, what we are looking for when we ‘test ourselves, to see if we are in the faith,’ is not the faith, that is the basic Bible doctrines. In our test, we are the subject. What we are testing is, if we are truly walking with God. If we are to test our walk as a Christian, we need to have a perfect standard. Our perfect standard by which to measure ourselves is,
Psalm 19:7-8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
7 The law of Jehovah is perfect,
restoring the soul;
the testimony of Jehovah is sure,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of Jehovah are right,
rejoicing the heart;
Yes, the Word of God, the Bible is the standard by which we can measure our walk with God. On this, the author of Hebrews wrote, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12) Thus, we must test our walk with God by examining our life course as outlined by Scripture, to find his favor, to be in an approved standing, to be declared righteous before him. Herein, each of the twenty chapters will have a text that they will be built around, a text that defines what we should be in the eyes of God. For example, several times Jesus says ‘if we are doing __________, we are truly his disciples.’ Well, the objective would be to discover what all is involved in doing __________.
Keep Examining Yourselves
The phrase keep examining yourselves is self-explanatory, but it involves a self-examination. We may have been a Christian for a number of years, but how many times have we had a spiritual checkup. Every six months we are to go in for a dental cleaning and unless there is a problem, we should get a health screening once a year. The problem with our spirituality is it is far more susceptible to injury than we are physically. The author of Hebrews warns us, “We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” (2:1) One chapter later, we are told, “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (3:12-13) This same author warns us about falling away (6:6), becoming sluggish (6:12), and growing weary or fainthearted (12:25).
Why would this be the case? If we are saved, why is it necessary that we keep examining ourselves? Why would we still be susceptible to bad behaviors to the point of drifting away, to the point of having an unbelieving heart, falling away, becoming sluggish, growing weary, or fainthearted?
There are four reasons. (1) First and foremost, we have inherited sin, which means that we are missing the mark of perfection. (2) In addition, our environment can condition us into the bad thinking and behavior. (3) We have our human weaknesses, which include inborn tendencies that we naturally lean toward evil, leading us into bad behaviors. (4) Moreover, there is the world of Satan and his demons that caters to these human weaknesses, which also leads us down the path of bad thinking and behaviors. After our self-examination, what is needed if we are to overcome any bad thinking or behaviors and how are we to avoid developing them in the future? We will offer more on this in each chapter as well as two appendices at the end, but we offer this for now. It is paramount that we fully understand what all is involved in our human imperfection and never believe that we are so strong spiritually that we would never fall away, slow down, or becoming sluggish in our walk with God.
Obviously, this should be of the greatest concern to each one of us. We may be a person of good character and believe that in any situation, we will make the right decisions. However, the moment that innocent appearing situation arises, we are plagued with the inner desire toward wrong. We need to address more than what our friends, or our workmates, or our spouse may see. We need to look into our inner self, in the hopes of determining, who we really are, and what do we need to do to have a good heart (i.e., inner person).
As we know, we could not function with half a heart. However, we can function, albeit dysfunctional, with a heart that is divided. Yes, we have things outside of us that can contribute to bad thinking, which id left unchecked will lead to bad behavior, but we also have some things within. The apostle Paul bewailed about himself, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” (Romans 7:19-20) This is because all of us are mentally bent toward the doing of wrong, instead of the doing of good. (Gen 6:5; 8:21; Rom 5:12; Eph. 4:20-24; Col 3:5-11) Jeremiah the prophet informs us of the condition of our heart (our inner person), “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?” These factors contribute to our being more vulnerable to the worldly desires and the weak human flesh than we may have thought. One needs to understand just how bad human imperfection is before they can fully implement the right Christian Living Skills.
Returning to the book of Hebrews, we are told, “solid food belongs to the mature, to those who through practice have their discernment trained to distinguish between good and evil.” (5:14) We will have evidence that we are one of the mature ones by training ourselves to distinguish between good and evil. We likely believe that we are already spiritually mature, which may very well be the case. Nevertheless, we are told by Paul to carry out this self-examination and to keep on examining ourselves, to remain that way, and even to improve upon what we currently have by way of maturity. Just as a man or woman in a marathon must continually train their muscles to surpass others in the sport, our discernment (perception) needs to be trained through regularly and rightly applying the Word of God. Throughout this publication, we will apply the inspired words of James, Jesus’ half-brother.
James 1:22-25 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.
24 for he looks at himself and goes away, and immediately forgets what sort of man he was. 25 But he that looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, being no hearer who forgets but a doer of a work, he will be blessed in his doing.
Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:15)
As the father and the husband, the wife, and mother, or a single Christian, male or female, we have dreams of the kind of work we want to do, the type of job, church life, or family life. This is perfectly fine; James is simply recommending that God be at the forefront of any decisions we make. James wants us to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” This does not mean that everything that we think, do, feel, or believe in our life is the will of God because we are imperfect humans, and we are living in a wicked world that is ruled by Satan, the Devil. This is not to say that human weaknesses, a fallen world, or Satan can foil God’s will. It means that we will not perfectly follow the Lord’s will at every moment of our life. If we did, we would be perfect.
Being imperfect humans, who are ‘mentally bent toward evil,’ possessing a deceitful heart that is desperately sick, and a natural desire for wrongdoing, we can do but one thing. We need to heed the following verses,
Matthew 7:21-23 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’
1 John 2:15-17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
How are we to know the will of God? We do so through the inspired, fully inerrant Word of God. If we have a biblical worldview and we follow Scripture, interpreting it correctly, we will do the will of the Father. What we do not want to do is to adopt some cliché, repeatedly saying, ‘If the Lord wills it.’ This makes it superstitious, some routine or habit, which is using it to be noticed by others. This becomes insincere or phony and a mockery of the principle behind James’ words. We need not say it out loud but know in our heart of hearts that we seek God’s will and purposes in every decision in life, and when we fail to do so in a case of human weakness, we will correct it most of the time when it comes to our attention.
Instead you ought to say. Instead of doing our will and purposes, doing what we have been doing, we need to instead realize our absolute dependence on the will and purposes of God. Every one of our lives and accomplishments is subject to his will. Now, we need to offer a warning and word of caution here. Many Christians confuse their will with the will of God. They simply make their choice and then say, ‘it is God’s will for me’ or ‘I am doing the will of God.’ How then are we to know what the will of God is? It is simple, (1) apply what the Bible says into your life, (2) live by the Bible, and (3) if what you are doing isn’t biblical; then, examine yourself. Does our job consume so many hours of our time, or do we have so many obligations on our time that we do not have time for God? Do we have time for (1) family, (2) all church services, (3) the time to study and prepare for those services, (4) personal Bible study, (5) family Bible study, and (6) proclaiming, (7) teaching the good news to make disciples?
If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that. The marks of a true Christian would be like the different lines that make up a person’s fingerprint, a print that cannot belong to any other person. The true Christians contain their own unique grouping of marks, forming a positive “fingerprint” that cannot belong to any other person.
Are we sure that we are truly walking in the truth? What kind of self-examination is fitting for servants of God? The Apostle Paul exhorted the Christians at Corinth to “examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.” (2 Cor. 13:5) Why should Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians be of interest to us? We can do the same today. It will protect us from being uncertain about whether we are walking in the truth. What standard do we have for testing whether we are in the faith, and why is that the perfect standard? If we are going to take a test to see whether we are truly in the faith, namely, truly walking with God, we must measure our conduct while considering the Word of God.
William Lange Craig wrote, “Remember that our faith is not based on emotions, but on the truth, and therefore you must hold on to it.” What truth? Jesus said to the Father in prayer, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17) By identifying the Scriptures that actually say, “You are my disciples if …,” we can know if we are truly Christian. A test that can actually tell us whether we are walking in the truth should never be based on emotionalism but instead on Scripture. Do our words, thoughts, actions, mind, and heart attitudes harmonize with the Scriptures? Within this publication, we will be able to let the Word of God prove who we really are. Let us follow the Apostle Paul’s counsel by testing ourselves to determine whether we adhere to God’s Word.
When we are inundated in the Word of God, it serves as the voice of God, telling us the way in which to walk.
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CHRISTIAN APOLOGETIC EVANGELISM
CHURCH ISSUES, GROWTH, AND HISTORY
 A “fellow worker” with Paul at Rome (Col. 4:14; Philem. 24), who eventually, “in love with this present world,” forsook the apostle and left for Thessalonica (2 Tim. 4:10). No other particulars are given concerning him. (ISBE, Volume 1, Page 918)
 B.C.E. means “before the Common Era,” which is more accurate than B.C. (“before Christ”). C.E. denotes “Common Era,” often called A.D., for anno Domini, meaning “in the year of our Lord.”
 Lit the face of his birth