We know that going in for a yearly physical, especially as we age is a good thing. It can catch early symptoms of a health issue before it becomes a problem. Even more important than a physical check-up is a spiritual check-up. It determines the matter of where we spend eternity. It's one of the most important examinations we will ever take.
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!
~ 2 Corinthians 13:5
In the above passage, the apostle Paul is calling on the Corinthians to examine themselves to see if their faith in Christ is genuine. He wants them to determine if their walk matches their talk.
Many profess Christianity by knowledge about God or their morality or by their involvement in various ministries within their church. They may base is it on a prayer they once said, or look to things like their baptism as a basis for saving faith.
It is by grace alone we are saved through faith in Jesus Christ but as Martin Luther stated, “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.”
It is possible to profess faith in Christ and still be unsaved. Paul exhorts us in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to examine ourselves because the outcome of real faith will show that Christ is indwelling in us by the Holy Spirit and it will result in godly lives that desire to be obedient to the Word of God.
I recently read Jerry Bridges' book, Who Am I? Identity in Christ and chapter 5 had some excellent questions for us to examine our hearts that I want to share with you below. Do we show evidence of being new creations in Christ? Take some time and pray through the questions from Who Am I? Identity in Christ:
Questions to Examine Yourselves:
What is my attitude toward God? Do I gladly acknowledge my dependence on him and my accountability to him?
What is my attitude toward my sin? Am I concerned or indifferent about it?
What is my attitude toward Jesus Christ? Do I trust him as the one who dies for my sin on the cross?
What is my attitude toward the Bible? Do I truly want to grow in my understanding and application of it in my life?
What is my attitude toward prayer? Do I also want to grow in this area of my life, or am I quite content to see prayer as an occasional call out to God for help?
What is my attitude toward other Christians? Do I appreciate being with them and learning from them, or do I actually prefer the company and lifestyle of my non-Christian friends?
Mr. Bridges writes, “These are important questions that we should seek to answer truthfully. The stakes are too high to ignore them or play games with them. Our eternal destiny is at stake and eternity lasts forever. There is no end to it. All of us will spend eternity in the blessed presence of God, or we will spend it under the never-ending curse and wrath of God.
So the question each of us should honestly face is this: Do I have some evidence that I am a new creation? Can we say something such as this: Yes, I still struggle with remaining sin and I see my frequent failures, but as I look at these questions I can truthfully say that, though I have a long way to go, I believe I'm headed in the right direction.
Having examined ourselves, we should also be concerned for friends and relatives who consider themselves to be Christians, but who show little or no evidence of being new creations. At the very least we should pray that God will lead them to a genuine saving knowledge of Christ. And then, depending on our relationship with them, we can seek to graciously challenge them to examine themselves.”
Scriptures to Examine Your Heart:
Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
~ Matthew 7:20
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
~ Galatians 5:22-23
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
~ Ephesians 2:8-9
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
~ James 2:17-18
More Signs of True Genuine Faith:
The book of 1 John was written so we can know we have genuine saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. These scriptures below (taken from GotQuestions) are a great series of tests and be reminded we won't fulfill them all perfectly all the time but the pattern of our lives will continue to show a love for God and spiritual growth.
1. Do you enjoy having fellowship with Christ and His redeemed people? (1 John 1:3)
2. Would people say you walk in the light, or walk in the darkness? (1 John 1:6-7)
3. Do you admit and confess your sin? (1 John 1:8)
4. Are you obedient to God's Word? (1 John 2:3-5)
5. Does your life indicate you love God rather than the world? (1 John 2:15)
6. Is your life characterized by “doing what is right”? (1 John 2:29)
7. Do you seek to maintain a pure life? (1 John 3:3)
8. Do you see a decreasing pattern of sin in your life? (1 John 3:5-6) [Note: this refers to not continuing in sin as a way of life, not a total absence of sin.]
9. Do you demonstrate love for other Christians? (1 John 3:14)
10. Do you “walk the walk,” versus just “talking the talk”? (1 John 3:18-19)
11. Do you maintain a clear conscience? (1 John 3:21)
12. Do you experience victory in your Christian walk? (1 John 5:4)
Does your life show evidence of true saving faith?
True salvation is not to be found through the mere reception of any creed, however true or scriptural. Mere ‘head notion' is not the road to heaven. “You must be born again,” means a great deal more than that you must believe certain dogmas. The study of the Bible cannot save you! You must press beyond this; you must come to the living, personal Christ, or else your acceptance of the soundest creed cannot avail for the salvation of your soul. Salvation lies in Jesus only!
~ Charles Spurgeon
Who Am I? Identity in Christ by Jerry Bridges
Two Ways to Examine Yourself to See if You are in the Faith – @ Rick Thomas
Self-Examination Speaks a Thousand Lies – @Desiring God