“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 Cor. 13:5
Albert Einstein didn’t allow his theory of relativity to be accepted by the scientific community until it had been thoroughly tested by 3 different measures. The third and final test was passed on May 29, 1919 when photographs of a solar eclipse confirmed Einstein’s prediction that a ray of light just grazing the surface of the sun would be bent by twice the amount predicted by Newtonian physics. Just as Einstein wouldn’t allow his theory to be accepted without testing, Paul writes here that we shouldn’t accept our position in Christ without testing. He has learned to never assume the spiritual condition of a person, even those he himself has shepherded.
The context of this statement in the letter to the Corinthians is the fact that Paul has confronted several members of this church who were engaging in a form of ongoing sin. Paul recognizes that when persistent sin is present in the life of someone, it raises the possibility that they are not true believers. A believer indwelled with the Holy Spirit will undergo a process of gradual sanctification, moving away from previous sinful patterns.
It is true that when someone comes to true faith in Christ, they will have sinful habits that take some time to disappear. The key is that the sinful habits should diminish and disappear over time. True believers will have less sin in their lives today than 5 years ago.
If that is not true, then Paul tells us we should ask ourselves why. As physicians, we’re not used to questioning our judgment when it comes to how we treat our patients. But when it comes to our spiritual condition, if there are ongoing sinful patterns present in our lives, we would be wise to test ourselves as Paul suggests.
Don’t assume that simply because you attend church on a regular basis and “went forward” many years ago you truly belong to Christ. If the indwelling witness of the Holy Spirit is absent and there is no evidence of movement toward holiness, make the effort today to completely submit to Christ.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, help me examine myself to know my true spiritual condition.