Assurance: Examining Yourself
Paul commands those in the church at Corinth: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5).
Many people believe they are saved – but their lives look the same as an unbeliever. They seldom speak about Christ, read the Bible, pray or share the gospel. Many would not even know how to explain the basic truth of mankind’s need for redemption, Christ’s atonement, repentance and Lordship of Jesus Christ. In their own eyes they deem themselves righteous because they do not do this or that sin like others.
Jesus told a parable specifically targeted to such persons who “were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else.” (Luke 18:9). Such a one stood and prayed like this: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get” (v. 12).
This man certainly felt secure in his righteousness, but the true measure of one’s purity is found when one compares oneself to God. God’s standard is holiness, a totally sanitized, never once sullied, purity of being.
“God is light,” writes John, “in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). In His kingdom heavenly beings day and night unceasingly shout “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty” (Rev. 4:8). Isaiah in vision stood before this sight (Isa. 6:3) and immediately understood his true sinfulness. “Woe to me!” he cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” (v.5).
God’s Holiness has a way of shocking a mortal into proper perspective — and Holiness is what God requires in order to enter His Presence: “…without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14). The only way to holiness is by beginning all over again. “You must be born again,” said Jesus (John 3:7).
This is exactly the reason Jesus came to this Earth: to make a whole new beginning possible… to replace our old beginnings and everything up until this time with something new! The Old Testament calls it giving us “a new heart.” It is Himself… it is the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer and making him holy too. All self effort must be surrendered. At the end of this process John says, “We shall be like Him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2). And until then, as Paul describes it, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20).
Our assurance then is just this, this indwelling Spirit, this changing of our hearts, this “fruit” of changed behaviours and viewpoint much in contrast to that of this present evil world. We are beginning to become, each day, bit by bit, more and more like Jesus. As we began, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5).
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