As I get ready for communion I've just penned a few thoughts about how to self-examine...
A Testing Question
Paul tells the communion church that they have to examine self. What sort of examination is required of Christ’s communicants?
This exercise is not designed to produce hopeless despair, self-flagellation, self-analysis or superficial assessment; rather it aims to allow the search light of the Scripture, in the power of the Spirit, to dig up hidden crimes, admit obvious errors, break down stubborn hearts and forsake wayward steps – proper self-examination induces a state of godly sorrow, that breeds a true repentance, and leads the soul to Christ, for pardon, cleansing and strength. The diagnosis is made and the soul restored to health! The examination verb has to do with removing dross - the metal should melt in the furnace and then the impurities be scooped off! Soul gold should be the result!
No one rule fits all – we all come in various states: saints are hot & cold, others weak or strong. The conscience may be soft and may not need probed too much. Some consciences are robust and may require a loud wake up. If that is the case then perhaps the best advice is to examine the soul enough (no two believers will be identical in this respect, nor will any individual be the same at every time and season in life): just enough, mind you, till sin begins to smart, until sin breaks the heart, then leads on and up, for grace, to Christ. So be deliberate but also delicate or determined as each communicant demands. How can you seek help if you don’t see you are sick?
Not looking round at others to nod your head at them, but looking in at self to see what is amiss. Paul says clearly let each one – that’s the sense of ‘man’ – look out for his own sin. Take a Bible verse like Galatians 5:22 – is there love joy peace? Or am I falling short? Rehearse the Ten Commandments – seek out their deep intent. Not just does God come first, but does my whole soul love His Christ. Or go to seven churches – am I lukewarm or on fire, have I forsaken my first love? Is their any pride – or only humble word, thought, deed? The answer makes all meek!
If you still feel pure – go to Psalm 51 – sinners by nature and practice steeped and shaped in iniquity. Pause on Romans 3:23 so see if you fall short. Look to the Sermon on the Mount: what do you find there? Meek and making peace, uncompromising in persecution, an angry murderous word – does that not disturb? Always, and last, make a B-line for the Cross. See the spotless lamb who never committed one sin! See the Hell pangs as He bears your punishment! Surely nails and thorns will be enough to lay you low, and bring tears to your soul! Then lift your eyes again to hear ‘Father forgive!’ Clinging to Christ re-covenant to His embrace!