OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew


            In the opening lines of Psalm 26, David cries out for God to judge him.  “Judge me, O Lord; for I have walked in mine integrity:  I have trusted also in the Lord; therefore I shall not slide.  Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reigns and my heart” (vs. 1-2).  Not very many individuals would volunteer for an examination by God.  We know that a day of judgment is coming (II Cor. 5:10).  However, we are more than willing to wait for that day to come.

            For David to invite the Lord’s examination, he must have been very confident.  Surely, he had already taken a complete inventory of himself before he made his request of God.  Even though we many not want an immediate assessment of our lives by God, we, too, should constantly be engaged in self-examination.  In II Corinthians 13:5, Paul exhorted his readers, saying:  “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?”

            Self-examination must involve numerous elements in order for it to be successful.  First, the examination must utilize the correct standard.  Note the use of the word “correct” that describes the standard.  There are many “religious” standards that exist in the world:  feelings, man’s conscience, man’s approval, creeds and confessions of men, etc.  These standards, however, are not God’s standard.  On the Day of Judgment, the standard by which all will be judged will the Word of God.  Listen to John’s description of that day as recorded in Revelation 20:11-12.  “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.  And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened:  and another book was opened, which is the book of life:  and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”  Since we will ultimately be judged by God’s Word that is where our self-examination ought to begin.  What does God’s Word say about my beliefs, my thoughts, my words, my actions, and my motives?

            Self-examination also needs to be thorough.  Webster defines “thorough” as follows:  “…exhaustive…marked by full detail…careful about detail:  painstaking…complete in all repsects.”  In our self-examination, no stone should be left unturned.  If one aspect of our life is not investigated, it might be that area that condemns us.  In Matthew 19:16-22, a young man comes to Jesus questioning him about eternal life.  Jesus gave him a list of various commands that he needed to keep to have eternal life.  “The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up:  what lack I yet?”  Most of us know what was lacking.  The young man had one portion of his life that was not regulated by God, his love of riches.  When told to give them up, he could not, and went away sorrowful.  Yes, a man has to be thorough and pay attention to every detail in his self-examination.

            A proper self-examination will also include the quality of honesty.  In essence, our examination must accept the truth of the findings.  King Saul, the first king ofIsrael, had a difficult time doing this.  When he sinned in his attack on the Amalekites, he was convinced that he had obeyed God.  “And Samuel came to Saul:  and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the Lord:  I have performed the commandment of the Lord” (I Sam. 15:13).  He said this even though he had violated God’s commandment by sparing the King Agag and the best of the flocks and herds of the Amalekites.  The prophet Samuel immediately confronted Saul’s disobedience.  “And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” (I Sam. 15:14).  Saul was not honest.  The evidence of his transgression was in hearing distance, yet he still denied his iniquity.  The same thing can happen to any individual.  We can deceive ourselves into thinking that our sin will not condemn us.  We might come to believe that God will just overlook a few transgressons.  Such thinking is not honest.  Each person must come to grips with his mistakes and violations of God’s Word as he examines himself.

            Self-examination must also be constant.  Yearly inspections might be fine for buildings, but they will not suffice for the Christian life.  Our adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8).  If he can find a weakness, he will attack it.  If he knows of a strong enticement that will appeal to one of our lusts, he will present it unto us.  Thus, we must ever be sober and vigilant.  Paul realized this.  He said:  “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection:  lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (I Cor. 9:27).  Daily examinations are imperative.  Let us always be aware of our Christian walk.  “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise” (Eph. 5:15).

            Self-examination will also be a basis for action.  When we see something in our lives that does not conform to the will of God, we need to repent and make the proper changes.  John the Baptist told the Pharisees and Sadducees to “bring forth fruits meet for repentance” (Matt. 3:8).  James exhorted his readers to be “doers of the word.”  “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22).  He then taught that God’s Word is to be used like a mirror.  When we look into the mirror of God’s Word and our lives are out of order, we need to make the necessary adjustments.  “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:25).

            Self-examinations are a necessity for every child of God.  These examinations are both difficult and valuable.  They are difficult because they may turn up some unpleasant findings.  On the other hand, they are valuable because they allow us to make the necessary corrections in our lives to be well-pleasing to God.  We beseech every reader to examine himself.  Remember, the day is coming when “…every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12).