If, as true believers, our lives are hid in Christ, then as we go through the rest of our sojourning here on earth we are not only coming to Him to know Him more, but also to know ourselves more. We cannot know who we really are in any other manner. Many fear coming to Christ, they fear it will mean losing who they really are. But we are never fully alive apart from Him, never living abundantly or enjoying the glory He has in store for us. To believe that my life is hid in Christ (Colossians 3), and that I am fully alive in Him invigorates me, even as the mundane attempts here and now to bog me down. Well, in this endeavor to know Him more and ourselves more, every now and then, we read through and meditate on 2 Corinthians 13. (Pause, read the whole chapter, please.)
Verses 5-8: Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless you fail the test? But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test. Now we pray to God that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved. For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth.
This chapter is not a call to be ‘completed’ as a daily checklist; and there certainly are some who struggle with what some call “naval gazing,” too much focus on self. The call we see in Scripture is not to naval gazing or even a focus on self, but to being honest with ourselves as we determine if our life is in line with His Word. We do this by focusing on the Word, focusing on what all of Scripture reveals about the character of God. This focus cannot be had in a brief moment; it requires that we follow the example of Jesus who frequently went alone to desolate places (mountaintops, gardens) and prayed. We must prayerfully enter such a time, and sit there in the Word letting His Spirit cut away flesh and encourage the flourishing work He is bringing about. As we sit in the Word, we cannot pick and choose passages, isolate verses, or even leave off the Old Testament out of ignorance. Newborn babes in Christ will be looking at the fresh truths of the Gospel as they examine themselves. But those who are maturing in Christ will also be taking into account all of Scripture. God’s love, graciousness, patience, compassion, forbearance, wisdom, and glory cannot be fully appreciated if we ignore the prophets and history books of the Old Testament.
Our maturity is manifested not in being able to cut away portions of Scripture that do not apply, but in realizing I am under the Word, I must listen to Him, know Him. No person is in a position to judge the Word of God, but rather we must be attentive to the Spirit as He uses the Word in our lives, as He wills. And then I can rejoice to hear James’ call to let the indwelling word sanctify me (See James 1:18-25)!
Examine yourself, see if your life is in accordance with the truth, Redemptive truth, with the doctrine handed down once and for all (see Jude, looking for the words “the faith” in particular). Or does your life (your choices and affections and goals and dreams) line up with the course of this world? Have you committed logical fallacies as you’ve determined what is true doctrine? If the Spirit dwells in you, and you come to Him, reading and desiring His words of eternal life–you will find Him, and find yourself in the process. When you seek Him with all your heart, soul, and mind, you will find Him and your life hidden in Him. Redeemed, secure, flourishing, full of purpose and hope and joy and peace.
This call is also not meant to be ‘completed’ as an annual checklist, in a moment every once in a while. This is not a command to set a New Years’ resolution, or an end of the year assessment. As we are continually in His Word, the Spirit will draw you into God’s deep wisdom which Paul reminds us is only for the mature. (Now turn to 1 Corinthians 2:6-16) This call requires humility, knowledge of the Word, understanding and delighting in the Word; in short: abiding in His words and in His love (John 15:10; but really, all of John 13-17). We cannot know if our life is in line with the truth if we do not intimately know and manifest the truth. You can only manifest the truth if it is in your heart, abiding there. The more we abide, the more the Spirit will help you examine yourself when necessary.
It is His sweet mercy to slowly reveal more parts of our hearts and minds that need His cleansing; and as He does may we humbly crucify those parts of our flesh and enjoy more of the life He has in store for us.
To enjoy a sample Scripture Meditation on abiding and prayer, click here.