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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Barcus & Laura Neal

March 10, 2024: Testing Our Faith- II Corinthians 13:5-11

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. 

(Psalm 139:23-24)

God knows the very intent of our hearts.  He sees our good, our bad, and our ugly.  We on the other hand, find it very easy to see the flaws and faults of others while ignoring our own weaknesses and lack of faith. We may devote time for God on Sunday, but how often do we include Him in the everyday circumstances of our lives? We compartmentalize God for those times when He is convenient. This lesson is all about taking stock of our relationship with Christ, evaluating our attitude toward others, and determining our commitment to the truth of the Gospel.  Paul is writing to the church in Corinth, a church that he started (Acts 18).  From the beginning this church has had more than its share of contention and confusion.  As we read about this first-century church, notice the similarities to the church world of today.  As followers of Christ,  listen intently to the words of Paul as he reminds the Corinthians to evaluate and refocus their thoughts and actions based on the faith that they claim and profess.  

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.

 The church at Corinth has many issues with Paul.  They do not think he is charismatic enough, he is poor, he's not a great speaker, and he is not concerned with prestige and rank among his peers.  The Corinthians have decided that although he started their church, he is not the one to represent this congregation.  They have divided loyalties to other evangelists that have come around in Paul’s absence. The church is divided, some preferring Apollos, others Peter, and some Paul. There is disagreement about eating meat, the freedom to sin, and whether the resurrection of the saints has or has not already taken place. In truth, they are a mess! The church is splintering over many things. 

Paul advises the Corinthians to examine themselves.  Are they truly Christians?  How can they be acting as they are?  If they are truly living in their faith, if they have been transformed by the mind of Christ, and if they are being led by the Holy Spirit, they cannot be divisive and disruptive to the spreading of the gospel, the purpose of the church. Paul insists they change their thinking and their actions. Paul uses a word not frequently used today- Reprobate.  A reprobate is someone who is unprincipled, wicked, or depraved.  It was commonly used to describe someone that has rejected God and His teachings and has become worthless to the cause of Christ. A reprobate has failed to take advantage of situations and opportunities afforded them.  Paul asks that as they examine themselves, that they also evaluate their actions.  Does what they do promote or detract from the Gospel and getting people to come to the knowledge of God?  This a great question, individually and corporately, for the church today. 

Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates. For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection.

Paul reminds them that they know right from wrong.  Don’t do evil, he says, not for appearance sake, but rather because it is honest and what God requires. The truth of Jesus Christ will stand on its own.  It will win out in the end.  It is sufficient. It will also change how we act, the way we think, and what we say, encompassing every aspect of our lives. Evaluate yourself Paul says; recognize the sin and weights that so easily get in the way. Submit to the gospel, which is Christ.  Paul is writing to remind them and build them up into a strong witness for the Lord. This church can’t just dismiss or forget what they already know.  

  • Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment: (Exodus 23:1-2).

  •  For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. (1 Corinthians 3:3-7).

  • What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? (Romans 6: 1-2).

  • Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. (1 Timothy 4: 1-7).

Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction. 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.

These verses remind me of a parent instructing a child,  “Don’t make me come down there!”  Paul is writing because he is not present with them, but if he were, they would probably not like his tone or his disapproval of their actions.  He reminds them that he knows the scriptures (He is a Pharisee of the Pharisees, Trained under Gamaliel).  He started their church and preached the message that got them saved.  The same disputes in the Corinthian church occur today in our churches.  The called out are in a war with great spiritual consequences. 

Are we able to evaluate our own lives, especially before casting doubt or creating conflict with other believers? Does self-will, pride, and arrogance sneak into our conversations and actions within the church as well as outside the church? How does one evaluate their spiritual health? Do our actions represent Christ, or are they a distraction to those around us seeking a close and personal relationship with the Savior? How do we handle ourselves when conflict(s) arise? Do we take sides, promote discord among friends, divide the church family, or distort truth to benefit our cause? Do we have respect of persons, measuring by anything other than the word of God?  If Paul were writing a letter to us today, he might again say, don’t make me come down there!”



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