2 Corinthians 13:3-5. since you seek proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. 4 For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God. Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
Self evaluation is a pretty important thing. Gaining self awareness, understanding yourself. Why do you do what you do? And even more important, what do you believe?
Paul’s opponents in Corinth have been evaluating him. That is the backdrop of this whole letter. Paul is planning his third visit to Corinth. He will be there soon. His opponents have been critical of his apostleship. They have asked for letters of reference and claimed that his gospel is false. Their logic? His weakness proves that Christ is not with him. They served a triumphalistic Christ. A Jesus of miracles and power in strength. But Paul served a Christ of power in weakness. A Christ whose greatest display of power was actually his greatest display of weakness – the cross.
These opponents have put Paul to the test. But now Paul asks the church to put themselves to the test – examine yourselves…test yourselves.
For what? What are we testing ourselves for? To see if we are in the faith, to see if Jesus Christ is living in us.
Is Jesus Christ in you? Are you in the faith?
You might be thinking, “wait there’s a test?” “Nobody said there was going to be a test!” Maybe you thought you just said the prayer and then that was it. Or maybe you thought that once you’re saved there is no actual proof of that salvation.
Paul doesn’t use this language of a test anywhere else in his writing. It is unique to 2 Corinthians. For the Corinthians, “passing the test” means repenting for the way they treated Paul and recommitting to his gospel, the true gospel. He’s going to want to hear it from their mouths when he gets there. This gospel will manifest itself in love, peace, and an understanding of grace in weakness. Not accusations and rebellion, much less believing a false gospel.
How do we pass the test? We examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith.
The answer is NOT to simply have faith. Rather, it is to be in THE faith. The faith that Paul speaks of is a unique faith. A faith that by the death and resurrection of Christ we can be found to be in Christ. It is faith that includes specifically our union with Christ.
So look closely at what Paul says:
Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?
Realizing that Jesus Christ is in you is the test. Trusting in the indwelling Christ is the test of faith. It’s faith in God’s grace. Faith in union with Christ. This is not meant to be too simplistic. It is the ultimate question, eternity hinges upon it. Are you in Christ?
But it is also not meant to produce doubt. It is meant to be assuring. Are you in the faith? How do we know who is in the faith? Those who believe that Jesus Christ is in them. Those who trust in union with Christ are in the faith and have passed the test.
Ok, are you looking for something a bit more tangible? Well then ask yourself this series of questions to see if you are actually saved:
Do you believe that Christ took your sin so that you could have his righteousness (5:21)?
Do you believe that transformation comes from the faith of beholding and not by self righteous efforts (3:18)?
Do you believe that your inner self is being renewed day by day (4:16)?
Are you able to open wide your heart to others in love (6:11-13)?
Do you feel godly grief over sin (7:10)?
Do you believe that the power of grace is found in weakness (12:9-10)?
If you answer NO to any of these is your heart able to receive God’s grace? Can you trust in your union with Christ in the midst of your NO answers? Oops, we’re right back where we started.