2 Corinthians 13:5
Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you…
I. POINTS ON WHICH SELF-EXAMINATION IS REQUIRED. They relate to your connection with Jesus Christ - whether he is in you and you are in the faith. It is assumed that the word of faith has been preached; then follows the question - How does this Word affect or influence you? It is easy to hear it and give it a formal assent - but this is not enough. Are you really in the faith? Does the truth compass you about and impress itself on all your views, motives, and principles of action? If so, Christ is certainly in you. He dwells in your heart by faith, and by his Spirit vitalizes and purifies your spirit.
II. THE KIND OF EVIDENCE NEEDED. The thing is not to be assumed, but proved. There is a mode of proof which onlookers may read and estimate. It is that which appears in your temper, demeanour, and actions. If men see good fruit in you, they infer that you are a good tree. But self-scrutiny must go into the matter more deeply; Onlookers see actions, but not the motives from which they spring. Some of your words and deeds they know, but not all of them, and not your actuating dispositions. Examine yourselves by the double test of the inward and the outward life. Review your motives and secret desires, as well as the current of your tempers and the tenor of your lives.
III. THE DIFFICULTY OF CONDUCTING THIS EXAMINATION.
1. In the nature of the case. Genuine self-knowledge is perhaps a rare attainment. The moment we go beneath the surface and try to probe the hidden things of the heart, we find ourselves among intricacies hard to unravel - a review of motives, the detection of half motives, and the analysis of transient thoughts and feelings as respects their moral complexion and significance. We are in a labyrinth of plans, wishes, imaginations, passions, caprices, and principles. One motive lurks behind another, one current of desire flows beneath another. And feeling, when subjected to analysis, ceases to be feeling, and it is only the recollection or the shadow of it which you can examine.
2. Through the delusions of self-esteem. Men shrink from a severe self-examination, lest the result should be mortifying, if not alarming. And even so far as they go, they are influenced by a desire to think hopefully of their own state, and to apply to themselves easy and partial tests. Like a teacher who is partial to a particular scholar and asks him only those questions which he is sure to answer, or an unjust judge who gives ear only to the side that he favours, every man is apt in self-examination to be biased in his own favour and to dwell on his best points as though they formed the whole staple of his character.
3. From exaggerated self-distrust. Some minds are morbidly sensitive, and do not so much examine as torment themselves. They cannot own what Christ has done for them, through fear of presumption. And their self-judgment is hindered by over caution and a dejection mistaken for humility.
IV. THE WAY TO REACH THE TRUTH ABOUT YOURSELVES. The Lord must be asked to preside over and direct the examination. It is he who looks upon the heart, and so it is he who can give you an insight into your real selves. Begin with the prayer in Psalm 139:23, 24. The Spirit of the Lord then shows you what you are by means of the lamp of the Word. And with such guidance you ought to know whether you are the Lord's or no. But you must yourselves watch as well as read and pray. It is a good rule to note the significance of little things, in which the mind is less on its guard and so more freely reveals its bent. A physician watches slight symptoms in order to detect and cure disease. A judge takes note of small incidents in a case, and shows the jury how, on the combination of these, the verdict of guilt or innocence must turn. So also should he act who would diagnose or judge himself; though, on the other hand, one must not lay all the stress on minor points, but should rest the main conclusion on broad and comprehensive grounds.
V. THE CONDITION OF THOSE WHO CANNOT BEAR THE TRIAL, "Disapproved." There is no verdict of "not proven." Those who name the Name of Christ are approved or disapproved. Leave not your relation to Jesus Christ in doubt. Repair to him who can solve your doubt and give you the good part that shall not be taken away. - F.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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?