KNOWING OURSELVES

KNOWING OURSELVES

Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?  2Co 13:5 

April 30, 2023

Who Is the Bestest?

Everyone wants to believe that they are a good person and that no one has reason to find fault with them, but that is not realistic.  The best of people with the nobliest of intent are often criticized and thought to be wrong.   Our present society is a good witness of this fact. Among the Christians who had professed a love of Jesus, Apostle Paul taught the Romans that there is none good, no not one. 

What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  Rom 3:9-11 

It was the gentiles of Rome to whom Paul was writing and that he desired to see, but he had to deal with the current position of the Jews, of which he also was one.  He affirmed that he was a Jewish servant of the Lord, but he was called of Christ as an apostle of the gentiles and desired to have fruit among Romans and Greeks.  Here we are considering three ethnic people all ministered to by one apostle who desired to bring them all into one body, the body of Christ.  Paul persuades them of his love for them and that their faith in Christ is spoken about throughout the whole world.

Then as now people tend to think themselves better than another ethnic group, but Paul aimed to let them know in Rome that there are no perfect people. He emphasizes that there is none righteous, no not one.  He had asked prior:

What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Rom 3:1   

No Physical Preference

The Jews who had been called as a special emissary of God to the world had missed their calling and even circumcision had not profited them because of disobedience.  So here Paul explains that the Jews were not better or good because of their racial heritage.  They were reckoned to be sinners as others.  At verse 9 he states: “both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin.”  He is concluding that we are all in the same boat of sinners regardless of our heritage. 

Only One Who Is Good

If God’s special people as Jews did not qualify as being good or righteous based on who they were established to be in God, what hope is there of Christians today being considered good based on personality or physical characteristics.  Jesus went on the say that there is none good but God.  Jesus made that statement, but He had the knowledge that He indeed was good because He was God in the flesh and those that called him good were in fact correct.  Jesus was bringing out the point that if you call him good then you must also be calling him God.

And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Mk 10:18 

They did not have the understanding that Jesus was God, so Jesus was being somewhat satirical. Jesus also knew at that time what we now know, that we become acceptable, good or righteous through his sacrificial death.  That knowledge was not available to the questioner, but some parables or sayings were given to cause them to meditate on them and pray for answers like Peter who got a revelation of Jesus’ divinity.

Faithfulness Satisfied the Father

God found faithfulness in Moses and Abraham.  Jesus was faithful in all His ways.

And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after… Heb 3:5 

So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.  Gal 3:9

While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. Mt 17:5 

And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.  Lk. 19:17

Fruit That Speaks

So, if you ask if a person is good, it would have to be answered based on that person’s position in Christ.  Only In Christ are we made righteous, godly, and possess the fruit of goodness. 

 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Eph 5:9   

If being good means being in Christ, then we have to examine the life of the professed Christian to see if there is fruit that give proof of Christ.  A faithful Christian produces fruit from righteousness.  Therein is where we find many difficulties because some people are calling themselves Christian who are not.  When we examine the Christian walk, we should see the fruit of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.  We heard Christ admonish the Jews that put their trust in their heritage as Jewish children born of Abraham:

Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.  Lk 3:8

Real Change

Jesus rebuked the Jews for thinking that they could claim righteousness merely by their association with the family of Abraham or their hereditary promise.  Likewise, today people think they are the righteous by virtue of their title of Christian or fellowship with a church body.  Abraham was a man of proven faith who believed and followed God.  Jesus testified as John did also saying that more is required than physical or mental association with a religious body, even if that body is Jewish or Christian.  Paul gives us more clarity.

For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.   Rom 2:28 

Paul makes it plain that God is requiring more than the physical or hereditary Jew and more than a person who goes to church and claims Christianity. Paul is saying show me the heart of Christ.   John the Baptist came to call the Jews to obedience through repentance of sin, and the disciples of Jesus called the Jews to repent of their rejection and crucifixion of the Messiah and receive Christ for salvation. We see in scripture that a heart change is necessary to be the Christian we are called to be today.

If that means we have to know if the person’s heart is changed, we are still in a difficult place because many people insist, they are all right the way they are.  Yet God looks beyond physical performance to the heart and He sees what is really in us.

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal 5:19-21

For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. Eph 5:8-10

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. Gal 5:22-24

Examination Time

It is not our opinion that counts, but Christ’s determination is what will make the difference between heaven and hell.  That brings us back to how do we know ourselves or change ourselves to be what God requires.  After walking through history and seeing that the Jews were not satisfactory because of their heritage and we are not satisfactory merely because of our association with religion, we come to the place of examining the heart to see if the heart is right.  Our topic scripture suggests that we need to examine our own selves even though we are subject to personal prejudice.  In II  Corinthian 13, Apostle Paul is addressing the church about their sins.

I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare: 2Co 13:2 

Apostle Paul is on record that he has told the Corinthian church about their sin on several occasions.  He calls on “God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth (1Co 11:28).”   So, we see two methods of knowing what is in our heart: personal examination through our knowledge of the Word and through pastoral ministry to us.  Paul had already acknowledged his love for them and wanted only the best for them.  He loved them as his own children; yet he loved them enough to correct them.

The difficulty of knowing our sin today can be found in both of those methods.  Few people read the bible to know their sin and so few ministers are willing to tell people their faults and sins.  People generally want to believe that if you love them, you will never say anything negative about them.  We are so accustomed to churches telling the congregation how much God loves them and how they are all on their way to heaven that few people expect to be told the truth of their sin.  If no one tells you about your flaws or true personality, how will you know?  Every time we read the bible, it exposes our sin.  Every time the pastor preaches, he should be helping us to pull off another layer of carnality.  Christ is inspecting His church and will speak to us through the preacher, the Holy Spirit and the Word of God about our need to be clothed in righteousness.  We also observe the life of leaders to imitate their righteous examples.

The Fruit Of A Nation

When America was at the height of its glory as a nation and thought itself wealthy, blessed, intelligent, full of pride and the world’s best; nations overseas were calling Americans arrogant, rude, selfish, ignorant and lacking integrity that makes one great.  The hardest lesson for America to learn has been the lesson of humility. God has taught us that “The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility (Pro 15:33).”  You can be great and walk in humility and other people will listen; but when you flaunt your greatness in the faces of others, no one wants to listen.  We sang “America the Beautiful” and it seemed to have gone to the heads of people until they became arrogant and rude to others. 

God is in the midst of breaking America’s arrogance through the  difficult times, but we must choose to humble ourselves, hear our sins, and change.  Our nation has not been able to read the word and see its sins because of pride and it has refused to be told the truth by the few ministers that dare to speak the truth.  Many ministers have been smooth talking and using flattery to draw people to the church by the multitudes, but the people did not change for the better because they were not corrected.   The final and most detrimental way to learn of your sins is when God Himself tells you that you have sinned.  God uses intercessors such as family, friends, strangers, church fellows and leaders to whisper lovingly our faults; but when we do not hear them, we may very well hear Him roar as He has been doing from the heavens.

Personal Responsibility For Our End Results

Finally, Apostle Paul told the Christian church to examine itself and prove itself to be real Christians, unless they be reprobates.  Reprobates are those who have left the ways of Christ and spoiled like rotten tomatoes on the vine.  Every tomato seed is intended to be a tomato.  The seed matures and a tomato is formed as first green and begins to turn yellow and then turns red if it is maturing properly. At any point, the tomato can become infected, damaged, or rotten depending on the conditions it encounters.  We can look at a damaged tomato and see something is wrong and reject it for its intended purpose. Ultimately, it is up to us individually to look at our condition, acknowledge our errors, correct ourselves or be corrected until we mature from seed to glory of a finished product. 

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.  Ro. 13:14  

And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.  Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Eph 4:23-25 

We have been given the Holy Spirit to help us in our transition from the fleshy man to the spiritual man.  Jesus assures us that He is working in us, will never leave nor forsake us and that He will finish the good work He started in us; but we have to choose to hear correction and be willing to make adjustments.  Christ is coming back for a church made up of individuals that look like Him and this is our allotted time to dress up!

Having been rebuked and chastened by Apostle Paul, the Corinthian church adjusted their behavior to forsake sin found in the body and to walk in love.  They were finally assured of his love for them and admonished to continue in Christ: 

Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?  But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.  2Co 13:5-6

Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. Greet one another with an holy kiss. 2Co 13:11-12

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