A Spiritual Examination

Bible Book: 2 Corinthians  13 : 5
Subject: Salvation, A Call to; Examination, Spiritual; The Heart

Spiritual Examination

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, editor, www.pastorlife.com
2 Corinthians 13:5
Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disqualified.”

Examinations are a regular part of life, especially when we are young. We all faced many tests and exams when we were in school, and many of you here today are still fulfilling your education pursuits and you are very familiar with exams. Also, we go through physical exams by a physician at times – for regular checkups or because we are having some issue that concerns us. So, we are used to the idea of exams and tests. But, what about a spiritual exam? Have you had a spiritual checkup lately?

My wife and I made a visit a few years ago at the home of a young couple who had a small child. The husband and wife were very pleasant and welcoming to us. At some point in the conversation I brought up the question regarding the husband’s salvation. He stated that his parents had him baptized when he was a baby and that satisfied him that all was well between he and the Lord. I began to explain that parents are to be applauded for dedicating children to God, but I wanted him to know that salvation is only possible through a personal decision. He became very angry and accused me of speaking ill of his parents. I did all I could to remove that feeling from him and focus on his own commitment, but it was to no avail. So, we left the home that night disappointed. A few days later he made an appointment through my secretary at the church to talk with me. This young man came into my office and choked up as he admitted that he had never accepted Christ. He said that my questions had caused him to look hard at himself and he wanted me to lead him to faith in Christ. How wonderful it was to show that young man how to know Jesus. He accepted the Lord, was filled with joy and I had the privilege of baptizing him a few weeks later.

It is important for each person to look at his or her heart and determine personal salvation is real. You just can’t take your eternity for granted. Far more important than a final exam in school, or a physical exam at the doctor’s office, is a personal examination of your own heart before God.

Think with me about this examination process this morning.

I. It is an Individual Examination

The text states that you are to “examine yourselves.” The young man I mentioned a moment ago was not being examined by me when I talked with him in his home, but he did go through a personal examination of his own heart afterward. That is what each person must do. No one can tell you if your saved, or if your heart is right with God - no one but the Lord can do that. You have to look at what God says in His Word about the human soul and determine if you are saved and living right before God.

You see, I can’t tell if you are a Christian or not a Christian by looking at you. You may come to church or have some religious background that makes you appear to be just fine. Your spiritual condition is similar to your physical condition. I have a friend who appeared to be perfectly healthy, but one day he was playing golf and became short of breath, which was followed by a tightness in his chest, so he stopped his round of golf and went straight to the hospital. An examination there revealed that he had a blockage that was likely only minutes from causing his death. They were able to stent the blockage and he went home the next day. Even his own doctor had not seen that problem until the heart attack occurred. Every person must look at his own spiritual heart before God - or better yet, allow the Lord to examine you and give you a personal diagnosis.

When I joined the Army, they put my in a line of men being examined. Though there were a large number of us, they examined each of us one-by-one. No part of the process was skipped or ignored. I want you to know that you cannot be in God’s army, a soldier of the cross, unless you bring your heart to Christ. You see, every person has a bad heart spiritually, and that means that only Jesus can give you a NEW HEART and make you a citizen of the kingdom of God. You must come to Him who died for you at the cross and repent of your sins. You must trust Him to save you and give you a NEW BIRTH.

Sadly, there are many people in our churches who have never been genuinely saved. They were prompted to join the church as children, especially during Vacation Bible School, or to make a decision at the same time as their friends were making a decision. They meant well, but actually never were truly converted and saved. Through my five decades of preaching the gospel I have seen hundreds come and admit that a spiritual examination of their hearts revealed the lack of salvation. What peace they found once they made a true and eternal commitment to Christ.

I’ll tell you what many people spend their time doing – they spend their time examining everyone else. Jesus warned us not to judge others, but to get the wooden beam out of our own eye instead of trying to get the splinter out of our neighbor’s eye. You see, everyone can find someone who is worse than he is. You can look out there in the world and find someone who is a greater sinner than you are and that can lead you to falsely determine that you are accepted by God because you are better than some other church member or so-called Christian. Listen carefully, God is not going to measure you for heaven based on some other person, but He measures us by the perfection of His own Son, Jesus. I can assure you that you, nor anyone else listening to me, measures up to the sinless Son of God. God demands perfection and only Jesus has that to give to you. He took your sin and mine to the Cross, but it is to no avail to you unless you come to Him by faith and accept Him as your Lord and Savior.

So, first we can say that God’s call is for each of us to examine ourselves so that we can see if we are truly in the faith – truly saved and ready to meet God this very day. But, notice something else…

II. This is an Imperative Examination

The words “examine,” “prove,” and “know” come from an imperative command of God. The Lord is not suggesting this examination, He is commanding that we do it. His voice is emphatic, demanding and commanding. Why? God commands this because your eternity depends on it.

A student in college has some courses which are called electives, which means that the student can elect to take certain courses or not to take them. Receiving a diploma does not require that you take those elective courses; however, there are some required courses. One cannot graduate without taking and passing the required courses. God’s required course for every person is a personal examination that results in the absolute assurance that you have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, that you have repented of your sin, and that you have pledged to follow the Lord all your days. This is not a religious decision, but is rather a personal, heart decision. Religion can’t save you! Jesus alone saves. Is He living in your heart? Have you trusted Him to save you?

I was preaching in a revival some years ago when a young woman interrupted the service. It was midway through the week of revival services and I had just gotten up to preach that night. She called out to me and said, “Preacher, I’ve got to say something.” It was a bit unusual. As she stood in her place about three rows back in the pews, I told her to speak. I thought perhaps she was so filled with the Lord that she had a testimony to share. She then went on to tell how she made decision to join the church when she was a child because her mother urged her to do so. She then said with tears, “I’m not saved. I want to get saved right now. I can’t wait any longer.” I call for an invitation hymn to be sung and called on others to make decisions, and she was saved and so were several others. Yes, that was the only time I ever had such an experience as a preacher of God’s Word, but I’m so glad that woman didn’t put off her decision. It is imperative that you examine yourself before God and make your commit the Lord immediately upon His call to your heart. You don't have to stop the service to become a Christian, but you must not put off the commit God calls upon you to make!

Now, not one other thing related to this examination ...

III. It is an Indispensable Examination

We read in Ephesians 4:18, “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” Note that people are lost, often they are lost because they are ignorant. Why does a doctor urge you to have an annual or regular examination? The doctor hopes to find a problem before it becomes impossible to treat or to heal. The doctor knows that you cannot likely see the problem and that only an examination can reveal that an issue is present in your body.

Many people are in the darkness regarding their lost condition. They are ignorant concerning the dire situation they are in. All of us in this service are one heart beat from God and for a lost person that means that you are one heart beat from an eternity without God - unsaved and unprepared to meet God you move along in life as if all is well. Dear friend, a spiritual examination is indispensable.

A. In Inward Examination

A spiritual exam must be done inwardly. That is why the Lord demands that “you” examine “yourself.” No one else can see your heart or know you spiritual condition. Look right now at your heart – have you trusted Jesus and are you truly redeemed? I didn’t ask if you are a church member? The question is: Are you a member of God’s family through the new birth!

B. An Outward Declaration

Every person who is saved is required to make the commitment outwardly – in front of others.

In Romans 1:16 we read that Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

In Psalm 31:1, King David wrote, “In you, O Lord, I put my trust; Let me never be ashamed; Deliver me in your righteousness.”

No one can be a secret disciple of Jesus. Though the exam in our heart is individual, your faith must be public. You see, Jesus died for you and for me in front of a howling mob. They beat Him, stripped him, nailed Him to a cross and mocked Him as He died. He did that out in the open - in front of anyone and everyone. You cannot trust Jesus as your Savior and do so secretly or privately. Faith in Christ must be expressed openly.

Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 1:8, “Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord…” Again he wrote in 2 Timothy 1:12, “…I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”

Every person who came to Christ for salvation in the New Testament, did so openly – in public. And that is what God requires of us, that we commit our hearts and lives to Him before others - that we only trust Him as the Son of God, that He died for our sins and rose from the dead, and that we are trusting Him as Lord and Savior.

Conclusion

If you had a symptom common to cancer, you would be at the doctor’s office tomorrow morning. If you had chest pains and shortness of breath, you would be at the hospital tonight. Friends, look at your inner heart right now. Does Jesus live there? Do you know for sure that you are saved and ready to meet God tonight? If not, settle it right now.

Turn from your sin, trust Jesus as your Savior this very moment, and openly come during this invitation to make your decision known.

Some years ago, I had a friend who needed kidney surgery, or he was going to die. His friends raised the money, the surgery was performed, and his life was saved. That man could not stop talking about his wonderful friends – he was not ashamed of them – he was proud of them. He talked on and on about how wonderful they were. When any physical health issue was discussed anywhere, He would stop everyone and tell his amazing story. He bragged on those who saved his life.

Let me tell you that I was lost in sin and had I no way to pay for my sins. I was doomed to an eternal death - to be separated from God forever; but, Jesus paid the price for my salvation with His blood. He died for me on the cross. I am not ashamed of Him. I can’t say enough about Him. If you will trust Him just now, step out and come as we sing. He was not ashamed of you at the cross and you ought never to be ashamed of Him before others.