“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Prove yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you are disqualified” 2.Cor.13:5.
In this passage Paul appeals to Christians to practice self-examination (to test, to try one’s self). The word is present tense active, meaning it is to be repetitive, ongoing, continuous, not a onetime thing. In studying the passage I see at least three things in the examination.
First of all, you need to examine yourself to know “whether you are in the faith.” “The faith” is the word of God, the gospel, which has the power to save those who believe and obey it Rom.1:5, 16-17. This faith comes by hearing God’s word Rom.10:17. Hearing is more than just hearing words spoken. Hearing is receiving the word by obeying it, having it implanted in your heart Jas.1:21. Are you in the faith? Are you really following the faith once for all delivered to the saints Jude 3; 2.Cor.5:7? Are you continuing to walk after the faith revealed? Some have received the word in the past, but later departed from the faith, making shipwreck of it 1.Tim.1:19-20.
Another thing to notice in the examination is to know whether “Jesus Christ is in you.” When you obeyed the gospel, Jesus entered into you, to dwell in your heart Rom. 8:10; Gal.2:20; 3:26-29. He does not dwell in us directly, but dwells in us by faith Eph.3:17; Gal.5:6. If Christ is in you, your mind will be on things above Col.3:1-2. Your life will be transformed Rom.12:1-2, and this transformation will be seen in your faithfulness to Him, putting Him first in your life Matt.6:33. This faithfulness will be seen, not only in daily life, but also in your regular assembling with the saints whenever they meet. Is Christ really dwelling in you when you attend only one or two hours a week? Christians are admonished to “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together as is the manner of some” Heb.10:25. Some think this admonition is for just one hour, maybe two, a week. But I believe it means whenever the saints have chosen to assemble all should strive to be present. Notice Heb.10:24 which precedes v.25. Not only are Christians told not “to forsake the assembling of ourselves together,” but are also told to “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” When one fails to assemble with the saints at the times the congregation has set to meet, is that one considering the other saints. We need to remember we are examples for others to follow, and in neglecting the assemblies, we are not stirring each other up to love and good works. Can you say Christ is really living in you when you neglect the assemblies?
A third point I see in the exhortation to “examine yourself” is to make sure you are “not disqualified,” i.e., not reprobate – not able to stand the test – have a mind void of right judgment) Rom.1:28; 1.Cor.9:24-27; Tit.1:16. One who is qualified has met the rules to enter the life of faith, and is continuing to stay within the boundaries laid out in the rule book (the word of God). We are told in Phil.3:16, “Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.” In other words, don’t deviate from the path you have been following up to this point.
I might also mention the scripture says, “examine yourselves… prove yourselves.” See 1.Cor.11:28; 1.Jn.3:18-22. The examination is a personal examination of yourself, not an examination of others 1.Jn.3:18-22. How does one do this? By letting His word be the guide 2.Tim.2:15; Rom.8:14-16. Ask yourself, “Lord, is it I?” Matt.26:22. How much do I love the Lord? His church? How committed am I to keeping the church pure? Striving for the unity of the faith? How faithful am I in my attendance, prayers, study, teaching, living, etc). Don’t use fellow humans as standards to judge yourself. They make poor judges or standards. Paul says this is not wise 2.Cor.10:12. Your friends will stand with you, your enemies will stand against you 1.Cor.4:6. Let the Lord be the judge 2.Cor.10:17-18. He is no respecter of persons, He is completely impartial. What He thinks is all important 1.Cor.4:3-4. Jesus tells us before judging others, first look at yourself Matt.7:1-5; Gal.6:1, 3; Rom.12:1-3. Each of us will be judged for our own actions Rom.14:10-12; 2.Cor.5:10, not that of others 2.Cor.10:11-12. They will be also judged by their own actions.
After examining yourself in the light of God’s word, the mirror Jas.1:22-25, do you see yourself as approved or disapproved? Is the examination gratifying or regrettable? Regardless, even if you think you are approved (according to the Lord’s standard), look again. There is always room for improvement. You are striving for the goal, but it is still ahead of you. You cannot quit pressing on till the end of life. Paul knew this Phil.3:12-14, and so should we.