The Expository Files


 In the Faith, Jesus In You

"Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith..."

2 Corinthians 13:5

One thing that every disciple needs to do fairly often is to take a careful look at himself and make some honest evaluations about how he is doing and what could be done to grow. We need to be careful and not allow our opinion of ourselves get in the way of making an accurate evaluation. James wrote, "But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.

But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does." (James 1:22-25).

Am I In "The Faith"?
"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 indeed you fail the test?" (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Perhaps of first concern is "Is my faith the faith"? This is because there are many, many different faiths across the earth, but there is only one faith that is what the Bible calls "the faith" (see also Ephesians 4:4-6).

Is my faith according to the Scriptures? We have the responsibility to look into the word of God and ask ourselves: Have I done what is necessary to become a Christian? I am not in the faith if I simply do what my parents did (whether they were right or wrong). I am not in the faith if I simply do what "many people" believe or practice. Is my faith according to traditions of men, or according to the Scriptures (1 Timothy 4:6; 6:3; 2 Timothy 4:3)?

Is "The Faith" Active in My Life?
To be "in the faith" that faith must be exhibited in our lives. Faith can never grow, or even be tested at all, if it is not active. Jesus talked about the power of faith, and figuratively described it as being able to move mountains. Men and women of faith can accomplish so much simply because they are empowered by faith, but only if that faith is active. Otherwise, it is dead.

I have designed several web sites. I am no expert, by any means, but I have used maybe a half dozen web design programs through the years. If you had asked me about one of these programs before I had used it, I would not have been very helpful in providing any useful information. It would only be after I had actually used it that I could tell you how its features worked and how it compared to other design programs that I have also used. This is also what is demanded of the Christian; putting our faith to the test! Only then can we discover the various features of the faith.

Mid Term Exams
"Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!" There is one thing that you can do better than anyone else on this earth. While everyone can look at your life and deeds, only you can test yourself in a way that goes beyond outward appearances. Sometimes outward appearances do not fully tell what is within a person's heart. This is because we can pretend to be something we are not. The Pharisees were notorious for appearing to be righteous (Matthew 23:28), but their faith and righteousness was false. It was insufficient (Matthew 5:20).
The same can happen today. Only I can examine myself to see if I am in the faith with reference to what is within. I pray in the assembly, and others know that. But do I pray in private? I contribute to the Lord's cause on the Lord's Day, and others know that. Do I contribute when no one is watching but God? Paul's admonition was that these brethren look at themselves that they might know how they might better themselves, put away those things that must be put away, and ensure that they are truly in the faith.

Is My Heart With God?
Worship is more than words, though it does consist of words of praise and devotion. Worship is more than actions though certainly activity as has been appointed by God is involved. Worship includes true adoration of and reverence for God. It is from the heart and is genuine. There are many, many more "worshippers" of God than there are "true worshippers" of God! "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers." (John 4:23).
The Pharisees came to God, saying some of the right things, but believing or meaning little of what they said or did. They did not seek to give God their best, to truly honor Him, or to put His will even above their own; they came to God on their own terms and acted as if that was acceptable. Their worship was more about pleasing themselves and impressing others than it was about glorifying God (Matthew 15:9; Colossians. 2:20-23).
My worship, and indeed all my walk "in the faith" ought to be an expression of what is truly on my heart. If I am "in the faith" then my worship will be founded upon my heart's desire to be pleasing to God in showing my sincere love for Him.

Is There Sin in My Life or Flaws in My Character?
It is seldom a problem of not knowing what sin is. At the very least, most behavior that is sinful on a moral basis (lying, cheating, stealing) will be questionable even to one new in the faith. Sometimes, doctrinal error may be more difficult to discern. That is why we need to be diligent in learning the Lord's will (Hebrews 5:13; Philippians 1:9,10; 1 Thessalonians 5:21,22).

Honesty with self is demanded here. We must not intentionally overlook, excuse our own flaws. When sin is discovered, there ought to be a willingness to put it away. That mindset is called "repentance" in the Scripture. Repentance involves the change of heart that results in "showing sin the door." To help me in this, the Lord promises forgiveness if I will confess sin to God (1 John 1:6-2:1). This would include "secret sins" (Psalm 66:18). For example, not only do I stop taking revenge on others, I even stop myself from imagining it or dreaming about it. Our success in these things depends on getting the heart right, and that process is not completed overnight. It is a part of "working out our own salvation" as we continue to walk by faith (Philippians 2:12).

Even when it is not a sin, those who seek to give God excellent service desire to excel in "the faith". We are not looking just to get a passing grade, but to get an "A+". This means we will seek to grow in positive spiritual attributes, to reach beyond what is acceptable to what is excellent. If this becomes our goal, then we are well on our way to passing the "final exam". That is the ultimate purpose, after all.

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 15.2; February 2008