2Co 13:5 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! 2Co 13:6 I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test.
In Church we have spent a couple of weeks speaking on how we can examine ourselves to make sure we are of the Faith. While our salvation is as sure as the righteousness of Christ because it is based on his work, not ours; yet the Bible constantly tells Christians that taking it for granted can be an eternal mistake. So we are told to make our calling and election sure. Briefly, I think this is done primarily in making sure there is fruit in your life that gives evidence of a regenerated heart and I believe the way this is seen is two-fold. Both of these fruits for the most part involve an inward look at the heart before an outward look at one’s life.
Firstly, only I can see my heart and only I know if I am trusting solely on the finished work of Christ on the cross. Obviously many false professors have walked an aisle and made a public profession of Christ. So the only way for anyone to know if it was real or not is to first be honest with yourself. True, saving faith looks to no other righteousness than that of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you are holding on to some work or some religious system, some earthly priest, etc. in addition to Christ then you are not a biblical believer in Christ.
A second test also involves the heart before looking at the life. It is to determine whether you love Christ more than any other thing or person. Salvation isn’t just an act of faith, it is the Holy Spirit giving you a new nature not only so you can trust in Christ but also so that you might have light and life and submit to Christ as Lord. Again, only I know if I love Christ and want to glorify him in everything I do. It is obvious that the churches are full of people who have outwardly “accepted” Christ Jesus but inwardly they still put their wants above his. This is not bringing forth “fruit meet for repentance”.
If we seem to pass these two tests then they will be evidenced by a lifestyle that obeys the Lord. There will be a constant and genuine sorrow over sin which leads to repentance and an effort to put exposed sin out of our lives. There will be humility as we recognize Christ as our only wisdom and righteousness. There will be contentment in all situations because we trust the Lord to keep his word when he says, “All things work together for the good of those that love him”. It isn’t that these things will be constant and perfect but we live according to our heart’s love and desires. If we are by nature lovers of Christ, we can’t live lives that looks like lovers of sin.
Let me close by listing some things that we must be very wary of when examining ourselves and even others. Such things as praying, walking an aisle, an emotional experience, being baptized, attending church, leading an outwardly moral life, knowing facts about Jesus and even conviction over doing sinful things is not necessarily evidence of a regenerate heart.
You might think that I just contradicted myself but there is a problem with these things. Any lost person can do each one. They don’t require genuine faith and a transformed heart. If we see ourselves doing them we haven’t really proven anything and this is why we have to look first at the heart and the motive for why we do what we do. It might be better to say that they only help us examine ourselves in that only their absence proves anything. Their presence doesn’t prove saving faith but their absence would definitely be a warning sign.
If a lost person doesn’t do any of this, then we are not surprised. But if a professing Christian isn’t doing them then they are suspect at best. Some of them like walking an aisle aren’t going to be the experience of all true saints but my point is that people that love the Lord will look like it outwardly. And so the absence of holiness and obedience is a failing mark on the test of whether one has been touched by the grace of God.