God intends for us to have a self knowledge but the question is how do we arrive at this knowledge?
There are two places in the Scriptures where we are told to examine ourselves. Oddly enough the Apostle Paul is the one who tells us this by way of the Corinthian letters even though he himself says, “To me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.” (1Corinthians 4:3-4) So, Paul doesn’t examine himself and yet he tells us to examine ourselves? What’s really going on here?
In the 11th chapter of 1 Corinthians the subject is the Lord’s Supper. Paul says, “Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.” Let’s look at this for a minute. He’s talking about eating and drinking in an unworthy manner he isn’t saying the eater and drinker is unworthy. In other words it is the way in which the Lord’s Supper is taken not the condition of the taker. So, to me there doesn’t appear to be a command to examine ones self in order to take spiritual inventory but rather a command to remember the body of Christ which is the whole point of communion.
My understanding is that the church at Corinth was forgetting what the Lord’s Supper was all about, and they were just going through the motions. This time of eating and drinking had become mere ritual or religious ceremony. They were no longer acknowledging or recognizing the Lord’s body.
Do you remember when Jesus celebrated the Lord’s Supper with his disciples? He told them “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” So when we come together to have Communion we aren’t called to look at ourselves we are called to look to Christ. It is about remembering him and what he has done. If we look at ourselves, apart from Christ, we are never going to be worthy. This too is the whole point of Communion. Jesus Christ’s spilled blood and broken body are what makes fellowship with God possible for us. He makes us worthy!
Now the other time Paul mentions examining ourselves is found in the 13th chapter of 2 Corinthians. Everywhere Paul went there seemed to be questions about his authority to say and do what he did. There always seemed to be an element of people trying to discredit his authority. This is the backdrop needed to see the next point. Paul says to them “Since you are seeking for proof of the Christ who speaks in me, and who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you…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?”
Paul proves his claims of being sent by God to them by telling them to examine whether or not they are in the faith. Being in the faith is proof enough of Paul’s apostleship because he is the one who preached the gospel to them in order for them to be saved. In other words, if they are believers that, in and of itself, proves he was of God. The examining spoken of here was to prove Paul’s authority not for self-introspection to find sin or fault within the believer.
I hope you will look into these things for yourself and ask God to show you the truth. I for one have given up on self evaluations because they will never be accurate. Instead I ask God to show me. I agree with David when he said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:23-24) NASB What do you say we keep our eyes on Jesus and let the Holy Spirit do the inventory.
Written by Louie