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THE ART OF SELF-EXAMINATION

May 9, 2013
Text: “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you –unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”  II Corinthians 13:5

Objective testing of your faults and sins is well nigh impossible. Looking at our own shortcomings is difficult and we don’t like to fess up to our failures. Each of us has a file of excuses to offer for our sins and vices. Nevertheless, this painful exercise must be a regular  part of our spiritual regimen, for not to do it shows our pride and self-satisfied souls.

The goal of this self examination, Paul tells us, is whether we are “in the faith“. This phrase means to be within the bounds of Biblical teaching, the teaching of the church, or within the confines of Biblical ethics. Do we conform to what God has revealed that he expects of us? From the day you become a Christian you begin to learn more of the doctrine of Christ. The apostle Peter insists that, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” II Peter 1:3 So, learn and do.

It is intrinsic to this test of our mettle that we accept a higher standard than the musings of men for our behavior. That gauge of righteousness is eternal and shall last forever. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Matthew 24:35   To use any other yardstick to judge ourselves is to make a false comparison. At best, each of us is an unfinished project. So keep working at it.

The critical inner inspection is incomplete if one does not admit his sins. The typical  reaction when we are confronted with our sins is to evade responsibility and excuse our offences. But that does not alter ourselves or make amends to persons we have offended. When King David was confronted with his adultery with Bathsheeba, he did not try to squirm out of his guilt. He makes a straightforward admission to God and men. The record indicates that he said, “I have sinned against the Lord.” II Samuel 12:13 My we all be as honest and forthright.

When we find some error or transgression in ourselves, it is necessary the we change. Yes, it is imperative that we repent and ask forgiveness, and also reform. There is no true repentance without modification of behavior. James gives us a perfect illustration in chapter 1 and verses 22-25. He speaks of a man who looks into the mirror and sees a dirty and unshaven face. But instead of washing and shaving, he turns and carelessly goes on his way. Remaining mired in sin and evil habits is impenitence, still shackled to our sin.

“O, wad some Power the giftie gie us  To see oursels as others see us!” Robert Burns

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