The Exam


“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?” (2 Corinthians 13:5).


Most people find any kind of examination daunting because they fear that the questions will be too difficult or that they might not live up to other people’s expectations. In a very real sense examinations bring us face to face with what we are really made of. Has what we have studied in the past made us fit for the future? Will we be qualified or disqualified at the end of the exam? Will we reach the mark?

The motivation

Paul encouraged the believers in Corinth to examine themselves to see if they were truly living up to the standards of God’s word. Self-examination is not a once-in-a-lifetime duty, but ought to be practiced by us on a regular, even daily basis. Why do we find such an idea difficult when we have no problem judging other people? Some take self-examination on board but begin from a worldly standpoint that really leads to nothing more than endeavouring to be a better or successful person.

Our motivation for self-examination must be to free up our lives to please God more. Once in a while the manufactorers or our phones, MP3 players or digital boxes issue updates so the device can function better. In God’s word we find daily updates, that once installed, make us more useful to the Lord and His people. He wants us to walk even closer to Him and manifest the power of salvation each day. “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Self-examination looks at three aspects of ours lives: [1] Our past; the areas where we have failed the Lord. [2] Our present; what we are actually doing or not doing. [3] Our future; our commitment to obey God and willingness to be led by His Spirit. Maybe we already know that changes must be made to the way we live before we can truly say we are committed to Christ. Is it time to put Hosea 10:12 to the test and find out what God can do with us? “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you”.

We need to take stock of our lives, especially if the ‘gifts of the Spirit’ and the “fruit of the Spirit” are not manifest in our lives (1 Corinthians 12, Galatians 5). Where has going our own way brought us to? Every failure in our lives finds its root in our refusal to do things God’s way. “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 16:25). What is our motivation? Is it to please God or ourselves?

The meaning

People in the world who make a success of themselves do so largely because they are focused. Somehow Christians cannot even muster up this human attribute today. There is evidence all around us that supports the fact that believers only want to go to Heaven rather than live faithfully unto the Lord. Before we criticise others let us remind ourselves that we are no different. To examine ourselves means that we must make sure that our spiritual lives (there is no such thing as a secular life in Biblical Christianity) are ever increasing in the love and knowledge of Christ. “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

In examining ourselves we are not aiming to become a successful somebody either in the world or the church. The glory of reputation means nothing in the Kingdom of God. The word ‘success’ only appears once in the Bible and in that place it is directly related to obedience to the word of God. “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Joshua 1:8). Look again at what Joshua was calling the people to do. He was in effect asking them to reevaluate their lives and relationship with God. Were they committed to Him and would they continue to serve Him faithfully? Notice that he encourages them to learn, meditate upon and do the word of God in their every day lives. To Joshua, serving the Lord was not confined to observing the religious duties in the Tabernacle. The Lord Jesus Christ speaks to every believer in Matthew 6:33 when He said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness”, that is, ‘put God first’. This is exactly what Joshua was impressing on the hearts and minds of Israel to his dying day, “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). Upon examining ourselves are we likely to come to the same conclusion and utter the same declaration as Joshua?


Examining ourselves will be as difficult or as easy as our desire to love and serve the Lord. Do we honestly and wholeheartedly desire to live a life that walks closer to Him each day? Upon examining ourselves will we advance to actually implementing the necessary changes in our lives? We all need improvement and correction, therefore let us determine to find ourselves fully in the faith rather than being found to be reprobates at the end.