Most of us have had a physical examination as an annual check-up, for employment purposes, or to find out if we have a potential health issue. Does God require us to have a spiritual examination?
A physical health examination is the process by which a doctor examines the body of a patient for signs of disease. A routine physical will check common measures of a healthy body: your personal and family medical history, lifestyle behaviors, vital signs, and other factors.
There are a few differences depending on whether we are male or female. (Biologically, there are only two sexes, though some try to argue with that fact today!) A few particulars apply to males, and a few to females, but, generally speaking, we all are measured against the same basic, “perfect” health standards.
An examination is a diagnostic, an act of identifying a potential disease from its symptoms and analyzing the cause. If we are above or below certain standards, it indicates we have a disease or condition.
In Old Testament times, the priesthood was responsible for examining the people of Israel to determine if there was leprosy or a plague (Leviticus 13–14).
David, king of Israel, wrote Psalm 26, which shows he understood the need to have his heart examined—a spiritual examination. He said in verse 2, “Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my mind and my heart.” The psalm indicates that he had examined himself in various measures to determine if he was living according to God’s ways. He recognized that, although he strived to walk in integrity, he needed God’s redemption and mercy (v. 11).
The Apostle Paul tells Christians: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
This idea may be foreign to many who call themselves Christian today, who have been told that they do not need to obey God’s commandments and that all they have to do is accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and they are saved “by grace alone” (implying that whatever they do after that doesn’t matter). But let’s examine that idea in light of some scriptures.
Why the need to examine ourselves? Notice further, in 1 Corinthians 11:27–28: “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” Clearly a person can take the Lord’s Passover (which some call the Lord’s Supper) in an unworthy manner, and be guilty!
We need to know what could make us unworthy! As in a physical exam, there are things the doctor does not want to find because it indicates disease. Similarly, there are things we would not want to find when examining ourselves spiritually. Galatians 5:19–21 speaks of the “works of the flesh”: “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; … those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
These sins are common in this modern age! If you are practicing them, you will not be in the kingdom of God! That’s what the Bible says! Did you know that?
Physically, we want our “readings” to be in the normal range. Likewise, in our spiritual lives, there are things we should expect to find. If we have God’s spirit, we should expect to find these spiritual fruits: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (vv. 22–23).
Are you “IN THE FAITH”? Examine yourself! To help you in this process, read our booklets What Is a True Christian? and Satan’s Counterfeit Christianity. The article “The Danger of False Conversion” may also be helpful!