Passing the Test
Robert Wurtz II
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test? But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test. (2 Cor. 5-7 NASB)
I have chosen the NASB for this text because it maintains continuity in the use of the word test to translate dokimazo and adokimos. Dokimazo means ‘to test’ and adokimos means ‘to fail the test.’ We are first told to ‘test ourselves.’ This is utterly important. The reason being is that too often as Christians we can see everyone’s faults but our own. The tendency is to assume we are right with God and have no need of repentance, when the fact is it could be that years of hardness have numbed us to some behavior that does not please the Lord. One of the great errors of the children of Israel was that they were forever trying to bring God offerings, etc., that He was not accepting because they refused to stop and listen to Him when He showed them their error. It is folly to try to praise our way through rebellion. As important as it is to worship and praise God, He is more concerned about how we treat one another than how many hours we sing to Him and praise Him. We are to get right with what He is putting His hand on and then bring our offering. Perhaps if we write this 100X as sentences we will realize God is serious about dealing with sin before we move on to offerings:
“Leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:24).
I was recently in a conversation where a young girl was surprised to hear that ‘sleeping around’ is wrong and that homosexuality is wrong. The question then became, how could that be? I suggest it is because the law of God written in our hearts from birth, that gives every human being a basic sense of right and wrong, had been ignored over and over again. As the conscience brought the sinful behavior into question, rather than the person stopping what they are doing they just seared their conscience. From now on until that behavior is challenged with the truth of God’s word the person will keep on as if it was not sin. A hot-iron of sorts has been applied to the conscience in that area. This is the consequence of ignoring God’s built in smoke–alarm (as some have called it) that alerts us to the wrongfulness of our actions.
Another example is in relationships with family and friends. A person can be in the habit of speaking sharply to their spouse until they feel no pain of conscience when they do it. Children at a young age may back talk their parents and then curse them as adults because they seared their conscience in that area. Relationship attitudes that form in childhood also carry over into adulthood that are the result of a seared conscience. One of the most frequent search phrases that link to this blog is ‘one friend at a time’. The behavior is such that apparently in distress people want to know why they deal with people in their life that seem to behave as if they can be your friend one day and then next week act as strangers. It is easy to diagnose. As a child the person probably did this type of thing all the time and their parents didn’t correct them. Why? Because parents are often times the child’s worst teacher. Some teach their kids to curse and swear or drink alcohol and smoke. Others are taught less obviously scandalous actions such as we find in school kids (one friend at a time)- especially school girls. Men teach their sons to fight and be bullies – not knowing that when they get older they will likely curse one another and treat each other like animals. What needs to happen? In all of these cases and a million more of varying variety, someone has to take up God’s word and AWAKEN the conscience again in that area. otherwise they will meet God in the judgment thinking they had no sin- looking for the splinters in their brother and sister’s eyes, not seeing the beam that was in their own eye all along.
What if there are no ministers touching these subjects? What if everyone’s conscience is seared in these areas? We have to take the word of God and allow God to probe into our hearts and minds to make sure we are not long in the tooth with some sinful behaviors. Just because it appears men seem to be getting by with it does not mean it is OK. God will overlook ignorance for a little while, but then He calls men everywhere to repent. When we are in the faith we are walking according to the revelation God has shown us.
Many times people try to seek deliverance for things they need to renounce and repent of. Paul said that he brought his body into subjection lest when he had preached to others he himself would fail the test. We need to make sure that we pass the test and do whatever it takes in our response to God and His grace to indeed pass the test. This is what Paul himself did according to 1 Corinthians 9:27. This implies some sort of policy of standards and testing. We have this in the secular world. Many things that we buy or come in contact with on any given day have been ‘tested’ based on approved standards and procedures. If we did not test things we would have no idea if they were working as designed. Yet Paul says, ‘test yourselves whether you be in the faith.
A Failed Test
I recall as a young boy going to youth camp with our church. As is typical of many children, the older boys treated the younger boys terribly. When the leaders were not looking they harassed us and made us feel like animals. Then they would smile to the leaders, or even mommy and daddy as if they were not the criminals that they were. They may have even gotten a pat on the back “great job, SON!” But we knew better. We were the victims of there devilish actions. So when a prayer meeting broke out in the young boys dorm the older boys campground across the came to see that was going on. I happened to be there to stop them at the door. “Hold it there boys, remember earlier today when you ran us out of your area? You can just head back to your own dorm!” At the ripe old age of 9 years this seemed like justice to me. An elder man looked at me and said, “That’s not brotherly love.” The words cut to the heart. I repented and allowed them in. But I have often wondered if these boys ever repented of their own actions towards us or if they grew up entertaining that dastardly behavior even in the work place? Getting people in trouble at work or God-forbid they became managers and would fire people just because they didn’t like their looks? Were in tall corn now, but we need to keep it real. Away with the fake and in with reality.
Were they ever really saved?
I know they prayed a prayer, but did they really come into the faith? Only in the last 100 years have people been told they are saved by ministers. They used to be told their conversion was ‘hopeful’. But now we live in an age where modern Christendom can something be declared to be true before a real test can be made. For example, prior to the evangelistic crusades of Billy Sunday, people were said to be ‘hopefully converted’ or that they ‘found comfort in prayer’ etc., but today folks are said to be ‘saved’ if they simply say a little prayer or make some sort-of doctrinal confession. What is more insane is that a system of logical deductions drawn from proof texts is used to say that people ‘have’ the Spirit of God- rather than being as Paul and asking the people. (Acts 19:1ff) Does anyone look for fruit anymore? As Pentecostals we are often no better. When was the last time a person was declared with certainty to have received the Holy Spirit because they went back and apologized for the way they treated people in relationships? When was the last time you heard a message on the fruit of the Spirit? Many speak in tongues and have ought in their hearts. Why? Their conscience is seared and because ministers are often jesters we have few that are qualified to search consciences as they so desperately need to be searched.
It’s almost as if all caution has been thrown to the wind and men fall on top of each other trying to declare that if a person makes a profession of faith, then they must by default ‘be saved’ and are filled with the Holy Spirit. But this is a strange way of assessing things. Jesus said that you will know them by their fruits. Where is the test that we are told to perform? It strains reason to say that a person has the Holy Spirit that does not yield any kind of fruitful evidence to support the statement. Furthermore, we risk maligning the Holy Spirit by saying certain people ‘have‘ the Holy Spirit that act nearly like devils. But all caution is thrown to the wind in this crisis era, and a madness is in play that will stop at nothing to pronounce the Holy Spirit being in people that show no fruitful evidence of the fact. TEST yourself whether you be in the faith. Do your own actions line up? Do you love all, even your enemies from the heart? Are you truly loving your neighbor as yourself? These are sobering questions we need to visit in this evil and adulterous generation where the love of many has waxed so cold that they feel no pain of conscience when they mistreat their neighbor.