Knowing that judgment day is coming, the Scripture places much importance upon the examination of one’s own behavior, conduct, and motivations. It is much better to measure by the Word of God in this life while there is opportunity to change, than to wait until the judgment when it is too late.
“So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). One day, we shall all stand before God at the judgment and give an accounting of the life that we lived here on earth. We will not be judged based on how everyone treated us nor upon the circumstances which we faced. We will be judged on the condition of our heart and upon our daily decisions and behavior.
While it is much easier to see the sin and faults of others, Paul exhorted the church at Corinth to “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Look not at the lives of others but examine your own life and faith. Search your heart and soul diligently (Psalms 77:6) and prove your own experience with God. We are all human and prone to error and to getting off balance if we do not take time for self-examination. Just because someone has served the Lord for years does not guarantee that he is today living pleasing to God. “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts” (Proverbs 21:2). It is much easier for a person to assume he is correct and others are wrong than to sincerely examine his own life. God is in the business of examining not only the conduct, but the very heart of man. Hence, it is wise to honestly scrutinize our own lives that we may be what God desires and not what the flesh has accepted as permissible. Whatever we sow in this life we will reap in eternity. Be not deceived, we can not fool God, for He knows all things (Galatians 6:7-8). The Scripture teaches clearly in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 that the unrighteous will not gain Heaven. All fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, drunkards, liars etc. will suffer in eternity unless they turn to God and live righteously. The world is full of professing Christians who are committing these sins. Their end is assured unless they repent. There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, and yet is not washed from its filthiness (Proverbs 30:12).
Danger of Delusion
Without self-examination in the fear of God, one is prone to delusion. It is not enough to hear the Word; we must be doers of the Word or we will be deceived (James 1:22-25). A head knowledge of truth and fellowship with godly people alone does not prepare us for the judgment. Some of the most critical people are individuals who have a beam in their own eye. “First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).
It is a blessing to walk in integrity and to live faithfully. This is far different from those who proclaim their own goodness (Proverbs 20:6-7). A profession does not save nor does spiritual boasting bring power from God. Jesus said: “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts” (Luke 16:15). Self-examination is not about self-justifying, “For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth” (2 Corinthians 10:18). So many people excuse things in their lives that are clearly not approved of by God. Some people trust in their family name, their tribe, church history and affiliation, or position of leadership. John the Baptist told the Pharisees: “Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father” (Matthew 3:9). They considered themselves righteous because they were descendants of holy men of old. We may have parents or grandparents who labored for God. We may attend services with the “Church of God,” but that does not save us nor justify wrong doing in our lives.
An outward form of religion and worship does not save us. “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). Jesus spoke extensively of the self-righteousness of the religious leaders of His time in Matthew 23:23-29. They spoke the right words, but they did not follow the law of God. They dressed righteously and yet they were carnal and full of iniquity. Jesus said they were hypocrites. Dressing modestly is important and needs to be examined, but even more importantly, the inward man must be examined. There are people who appear pious outwardly and yet are mean-spirited, proud, and hateful. Examine thyself.
We must measure ourselves in the light of truth and not stay in the cover of darkness, self-justification, and self-righteousness. God will judge every secret thing (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). Investigate your own life and do not excuse anything ungodly. When people cover their sin, they will not prosper. If they will confess and forsake it, God will have mercy (Proverbs 28:13).
Known by the Fruit
Proverbs 20:11 reads: “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.” As a child is known, so we should identify ourselves in honesty by our doings. What kind of fruit are you bearing? Jesus said a good tree brings forth good fruit (Matthew 7:16-23) and that we would know others by their fruit—so we should know ourselves. What a blessing to examine one’s own life and see good fruit. Yet, Jesus warned about wolves in sheep’s clothing. There are ministers all around us preaching and professing power with God, and in reality, they are spiritual wolves. The true sheep have confidence and security when they examine their life, for the sheep know the voice and follow the shepherd (John 10:27).
Examine Body and Spirit
The whole man should be examined, inward and outward. Jesus asked Peter: “Lovest thou me more than these?” (John 21:15). Do you really love God more than anything in this world? Are you seeking after the things of this world or does Christ have priority? We are instructed in 1 Corinthians 6:20 to glorify God in our body and in our spirit. When people look in the mirror they see a reflection of themselves. Individuals need to look into the spiritual mirror and examine their spiritual reality, measuring their lives by the standard of God’s Word.
Seek God’s Judgment
King David set an example for us in his prayer on multiple occasions. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts” (Psalms 139:23-24). When David was confronted with his sin by the prophet Nathan, he acknowledged his sin and sought for forgiveness. Let us open our hearts for God to search and show us anything that is unlike Christ. It might be a weakness which is not even sin that is hindering spiritually. Examine yourself and find victory in confession and change.
A Willing Heart
“Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). Clear yourself before God and daily exercise yourself as Paul to “have a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men” (Acts 24:16). As individuals are honest and open before God, there will be continual spiritual growth.
Joy in Complete Surrender
There is wonderful peace when you know that your sins are forgiven, your heart is pure, and your desire is to please God. What a wonderful testimony to be able to say as Jesus concerning Satan: “[He] hath nothing in me” (John 14:30).
Knowing that the end of time is near, what kind of person should we be? Let us not fear to examine ourselves, for there is a God who is willing and waiting to minister to the needs of our life.