2 Cor 13:5 “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?”

     Paul was ‘giving it’ to the Corinthians, again!  They questioned if Christ was really speaking through him.  Much of what Paul had to say to the Corinthians was tough for them to hear.  The best way to ignore someone is to ‘pigeon hole’ them by denigrating their credibility.  Paul’s reply was simply to point to his integrity and fruit;  “For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.” (v. 4)   Then Paul urges his readers to apply the same test to themselves and see how they measure up.

     The Forerunner Commentary makes a crucial point; “This verse applies at all times, . . .  [not just on Sunday for one hour]. Here, ‘faith’ is used in the sense of the truth. Those who are in the truth live by faith. They live according to their beliefs in God. The truth is the center of their lives, and by it they direct and choose the course of their lives.”     Living an authentic Christian life is walking in His promises and according to His Word.  This test cuts through appearances and pretence.  If we don’t have the courage to apply it to ourselves we can be sure our children, our spouses and our neighbours see when we don’t measure up (even if we may not be to concerned about what God sees).  The Forerunner Commentary concludes; “We can easily make the acceptance of Christian faith a substitute for living it. Jesus says, ‘But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?’ (Luke 6:46). Each person must do his own examination.”

     God healed me of  heart disease.  No more pain; I can work in my garden and around the house with no problems.  I walk five kilometres five days a week.  My cardiologist was at a loss to explain how it all happened and said; “People don’t often get a second chance.”   Even so, if I have a little muscle ache or twinge I can get scared –  ITS BACK!  Doubt and fear are always lurking, waiting to rob the quality of my life.  My walk is to be a good steward of my healing;  follow a good diet, get lots of exercise, get a check up once a year and use common sense.  My walk is to live in accordance with God’s promise and Word; “Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole.”  (Mark 10:52) 

     Healings can be in many forms and sometimes they don’t happen the way we want or when we want.  Paul asked to have a thorn removed but God told him; ” . . . , My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”  Paul realized; “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Wholeness isn’t in the healing – it’s in the walk.  What is the point of being healed if I won’t live a ‘whole’ life?  To give in to fear, to give in to doubt is to fail the test.  To acknowledge doubt and fear and overcome by faith in Jesus (Phil 4:13) is to pass the test!  At the end of the day we walk into Jesus’ arms.

     To say ‘God healed me’ and to live ‘God healed me’ are two different things.  The former is a matter of the tongue and the latter is a matter of faith.   When the two are aligned we live authentic Christian lives.  Honesty allows us to say what a challenge it can be to live aligned with our faith.  Greed, anger, lust, envy and pride  operate in my life to  rob me of an authentic life.    So often, I say ‘God is an awesome God!  He’s so good’.  But does my faith, my trust in Him bear witness to my words every time?  No, I fall short.   Try living ‘God loves you’ when your dealing with a neighbour who throws garbage on your lawn.  Try living ‘God protects me’ when people are lying about you and others believe them.  Try living ‘I’m delivered’ when fears gnaw at your guts.  How do you fight these tendencies? Admit them, confess them, and rely on Jesus to overcome them!

     The Good News in all of this is that failure is a fact of my life as a Christian.  God has standards – VERY HOLY STANDARDS – and I will never be able to measure up.  God knows this and that is why He sent Jesus.  The Pharisees wouldn’t agree.  They claimed a righteousness that entitled them to God’s acceptance.  They believed that they didn’t need Jesus.  But I do!  I fail the test every day.  Being honest about it, bearing witness to it and giving testimony about how God makes up the difference in my life brings change in me.  Honest words of brokenness and struggle spoken among people who understand because they share the same walk creates a fellowship that is focused on Jesus as the ‘author and perfector’ of our faith.  “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”  (James 5:16)

       Paul urged those in the  Corinthian church to test themselves.  We would do well to do the same in our churches and share the results in our times of testimony.  James knew that humility comes with confession.  Humility brings us closer to God; “Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off.” (Psalm 138:6)  When we admit and confront our own inadequacies among those we trust and love, God draws closer to us and we draw closer to each other in true fellowship.  Our eyes; “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  (Hebrews 12:2)

     And by testing yourself and giving testimony about it you will come to know your church.  Are you afraid of sharing like this?  Would you judge others who let you know that they were not as good on the inside as they appeared on the outside?  Would you be judged by those in your church?  Do you belong to a church that shares real issues and struggles?  This is dangerous stuff.  A church given over to confession, repentance would be terribly shaken up by the Holy Spirit.  A revival fire would start that couldn’t be put out and it would purify the fellowship.  What would be left?

     Scripture testifies:  “And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.  Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.”  (Hebrews 12:27-29)

     It all starts with a simple test!

     Praise the Lord!