Cherishing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Examine yourself…to a point

This past Sunday we studied Hebrews 5:11-14 in our series through this book. So far in this book we have studied three different warnings and each warning has caused us to take time to do a spiritual check-up. This past Sunday was no different. These type of texts in Scripture are challenging and convicting. In these texts, we see places in our lives where we fall short or where we are not doing well. So what do we do with this type of conviction? How long do we examine ourselves?

I would like to start with that last question: how long to we examine ourselves on texts like this? The reason I am asking this question is because there are two polar opposites that I believe we should avoid. On one side there is the side that tells us to constantly examine our sin, see our sin and put it to death. Then on the other side there are those who say that we should not concern ourselves at all with personal examination. There is no need to be concerned about our spiritual health or sin because the Lord will show us. While there is some truth in both perspectives, I think biblically, we should land somewhere in the middle. We most certainly should examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5) and most certainly the Lord will show us our sin because we cannot see our sin without the Lord’s help. However, we should not stay in constant examination mode. Too often when we do this we focus more on our sin and more on our inadequacy than we do on the Lord and his ability to help us. So we should examine ourselves quickly and move on.

Now what happens when we examine ourselves and we are convicted by our sin and feel bad about what we see? How should we respond to it? This is where 1 John 1:9 is very helpful to us. We confess our sin, believe that God has forgiven us and move on. This does not mean that we are trite or flippant about our sin. Rather we respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit by repenting of our sin, believing that Christ’s death is sufficient for our sin, and by the power of the Holy Spirit try to put that sin to death. Notice there is no discouragement or beating ourselves down because of our sin. We should, as one author wrote, “For every 1 look at your sin, take 10 looks at Christ.”

The warning texts in the Bible are not texts that we can or should ignore.  Warning texts are intended to be an act of love from our gracious heavenly Father who loves us. These texts are intended to show us our imperfection and cause is to cling more closely to him. So let’s not skip them, ignore them or misread them. Let’s embrace them for God’s glory and our eternal benefit.

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