In II Corinthians 13:5-6, we are instructed, “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?” This is an important exhortation. However, I have asked many Christians and Christian leaders if they are doing this, and so far I have not found one who was or could even explain how to do this. Could this be why there is so much weakness and shallowness in believers today?
The Christians who are not testing themselves or even know how to may still be doing well in their Christian walks. Still, this would not be in the New Testament if it was not helpful. I labored to understand the tests of the righteous for years. Then, several years ago, when I taught on “The Seven Tests of the Righteous,” it became one of the most popular messages I ever preached.
There was obviously great hunger among those who were in pursuit of the Lord to understand this. The message went all over the world. More recently, I mentioned in a message just a few of these principles and saw the same kind of quizzical interest and great desire to understand this, so I will include this later in this study. But first, let’s address some of the important “pre-test” questions we need to consider.
Among the first ways we can test ourselves to know if we are abiding in Him is to examine the reasons we are following Him. Do we seek Him to glorify Him or for what we can attain? By following Him, we will attain far more than we can conceive, and to appreciate and look forward to these attainments is not wrong. However, when attaining things becomes our main motive, we are not following Him so much as our own ambitions, and we remain spiritual babies at best.
Selfishness and self-seeking are some of the deadliest traps along the path of life. Again, this does not mean we cannot appreciate and enjoy the rewards of serving Him. However, remembering “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing,” we must keep our priorities straight. Even Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him, but when our main devotion becomes self-centered rather than Christ-centered, our priorities become out of order.
Jesus declared that His disciples would take up their crosses to sacrifice their desires and interests to follow Him. The tradeoff is, if we do this and seek to do all things for His sake and His reward, our reward will be far greater than anything we could ever achieve by being self-focused. It’s a matter of devotion. Who are we serving? To pass this test is the first and biggest test of all.their crosses to sacrifice theirdesires and interests to follow Him. The tradeoff is, if we do this and seek to do all things for His sake and His reward, our reward will be far greater than anything we could ever achieve by being self-focused. It’s a matter of devotion. Who are we serving? To pass this test is the first and biggest test of all.
Another basic test of life is manifested in nature: when something stops growing, it starts dying. Is our love for the Lord growing? He warned that, in these times, the love of many would grow cold. For their love to “grow cold,” they must have had love for Him, but then let it die. What are we doing to continue growing in our love for Him?
God is love, and I have learned that it is not possible to learn anything about Him without loving Him more. Therefore, to continually seek to know Him better will cause our love for Him to continually grow. Jesus even said that eternal life was to know Him (see John 17:3). True disciples live to know their masters and learn from them, so what are we doing to learn from the greatest Teacher ever? Do we esteem this greatest of honors to be taught by the Lord as we should? This should be our primary devotion in life.
We will continue with some of these tests in this study. We are told in Scripture that the Lord tests the righteous, not to condemn us but to help us stay on the path of life. In school, we take tests so we can graduate to the next level. Or, as our friend Francis Frangipane says, “You never fail God’s tests; you just keep taking them until you pass.” Let’s pass the tests we keep repeating, so we can graduate. And remember, all His tests are open-book tests, and all the answers are readily available in the Bible.
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