There are times when we falter in our faith and give into temptation, but that does not mean that Jesus Christ is not in us. Unless, of course, we examine ourselves and fail to meet the test (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Even in the Christian, there are times when quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder creep into our lives and churches. (2 Corinthians 12:20). Sometimes even impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality are added to the list (2 Corinthians 12:13). When we experience this, we should examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). How are we to do this? Here are three steps we should take.
First, we must examine the truth of God’s word, especially in the areas where we are faltering. We need to know what scripture teaches precisely and examine our lives to determine where we line up and fall short. This step may seem like an easy part of the test, but this is the most foundational. It is where many people go wrong.
Countless people pretend to look to God’s word as their standard, but they prefer to read their current behavior into scripture rather than let scripture speak to their behavior. Theologically, these are the people who chafe against inerrancy. They deconstruct the text rather than listen to it. Culture is their actual standard, and they mold scripture accordingly. It is Satan’s age-old question, “Did God really say? If we do this, we fail the first part of the test.
Second, we must then act on the word. It is not enough to be hearers only. We must be doers of the word as well. If we know the truth, see our shortcomings, and have no desire or effort to repent and walk according to the word, we deceive ourselves (James 1:22). Sometimes children of God do the very things they hate (Romans 7:15), but the key to that verse is that they hate it and work to mortify their deeds of the flesh (Romans 8:13).
Finally, we must seek restoration. We must look for a change in ourselves and in relation to our local church body. It is easy to point the finger at the fellow believers around us, but that adds to the gossip, slander, and conceit. It does not restore it. We must aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree in the word, and live in peace with fellow believers (2 Corinthians 13:11). Seeing these three steps in action while looking to Jesus for our forgiveness and righteousness is evidence of a living faith. It is how we know Jesus Christ, the God of love and peace, is in us, even when we fall short.