“Examine yourselves to see whether you are still in the Christian faith. Test yourselves! Don’t you recognize that you are people in whom Jesus Christ lives? Could it be that you’re failing the test? I hope that you will realize that we haven’t failed the test” (2 Corinthians 13:5-6 GW).
The American humorist Mark Twain is widely credited with the following quote: “Some people are troubled by things in the Bible they can’t understand. What troubles me are the things I can understand.” (1) The passage from 2 Corinthians 13:5-6 quoted above is one portion of Scripture that may fit Twain’s description. You see, these verses may be troublesome but not because they are hard to understand. Instead, they challenge us to engage in the kind of spiritual self-examination that may lead to a difficult question: “…are you just pretending to be Christians when actually you aren’t at all?” (TLB).
For instance, we have already applied this passage to a number of characteristics that are irreflective of God-honoring character. But what if the presence of those characteristics leads us to discover something more foundational- the possibility that our beliefs fail to align with genuine Biblical faith? What are the factors that may indicate we are failing such a test?
Well, one potential indicator would involve a failure to follow the path of spiritual growth described in Acts 2:42 by neglecting to regularly engage in prayer, Bible study, communion, and church attendance. A person who seeks to honor God in these four areas is someone who is well-positioned to pass the test of genuine Christianity.
Another way to gauge the depth of our faith is to measure our adherence to Jesus’ Biblical teachings. As Jesus said in John 14:21, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” The Amplified Version of 1 John 3:7 sheds further light on this idea: “…The one who practices righteousness [the one who strives to live a consistently honorable life—in private as well as in public—and to conform to God’s precepts] is righteous, just as He is righteous.”
Finally, we should remember that “Nothing is hidden from God! He sees through everything, and we will have to tell him the truth” (Hebrews 4:13 CEV). If we prayerfully approach God through Christ with an attitude of humility and respect, we can seek His help as we examine ourselves to determine if we are truly in the faith.
(1) Perhaps spuriously- see here