Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for. —2 Corinthians 13:5–9 (ESV)
Here, the apostle Paul is wrapping up his second letter to the Corinthian church. At the beginning of his letter, he addresses the people as “the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia” (2 Corinthians 1:2). This is important to know if we are to interpret and apply the passage appropriately – by and large, Paul is speaking to believing Christians.
The fact that Paul is speaking to Christians is important because he says in the first part of 13:5, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.” With the welcoming address that Paul gives, isn’t it safe to assume that they are in the faith? Isn’t it safe to assume that they believe that Jesus is the One who took away their sins? Yes, and Paul isn’t asserting that they’re not. Let’s look at how Paul continues in the chapter: “Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” Paul’s not saying that they’re non-believers, he’s acknowledging and proclaiming that Christ is in them!
It’s not certain why exactly Paul is saying this to the Corinthians. They may have been doubting their faith. If you read through the two letters to the Corinthians, you’ll see that they did many things that didn’t represent Christ well. However, Paul is saying that “a believer never gets beyond the need for regular self-examination.”
When was the last time that you examined yourself for evidence of salvation? This isn’t to make you doubt what Christ has done for you, but to actually examine your own life, and glory in the evidence of the change Christ has brought about in you. This line of questioning should lead us to ask ourselves, “Am I living like one who has been saved from what I used to be?” Questions like, “Do I love others?” This doesn’t mean that you must be perfect, but do you seek to serve others to glorify His name or your name? As an educator, or parent, we’re always teaching our students and then testing them. Today, let’s take Paul’s instruction to the Corinthians seriously, and examine ourselves, for the glory of God.