Have you examined yourself lately? It is important that we do especially as we prepare to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. We do not want to appear before God in an unworthy manner. Best to judge ourselves than to be judged.
Paul said, “…let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” (I Corinthians 11:28-31)
God formed a spirit in man, “The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.” (Zechariah 12:1). That spirit distinguishes humanity from animals, “Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” (Ecclesiastes 3:21). It is our human nature - the very essence of who and what we are. God created human nature to be passed on genetically through all generations. We have inherited it through our parents from Adam and Eve.
Unfortunately human nature was corrupted. Right from the outset when our first parents put their faith in Satan rather than God, the spirit in them was corrupted. It became a mixture of good and evil. Adam and Eve were told that if they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they would surely die (Genesis 2:17). This was not some quaint ‘Bible Story’ it was a crucial and defining moment for the whole human race. Rather than believing in God the creator who was good, they chose to believe in a created being who had become evil. Instead of believing God they made their own judgement of Satan. In other words they determined for themselves what was good and evil – a role normally reserved for God. That was why God said, “Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil:” (Genesis 3:22). As a result their human nature was corrupted by the one in whom they put their faith. It became a perverted mixture of good and evil and in that corrupted form has been passed on through all the generations that followed.
Goodness is something that can be sustained forever but evil will inevitably result in death and destruction. That is just the nature of evil. Not only did the corruption of Adam and Eve’s nature mean that they would suffer death as God predicted, it meant that all the following generations receiving that corrupted nature would also suffer death. In other words the whole of humanity had become subjected to death.
David understood that the human nature he had inherited from his parents had been corrupted, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5). He also knew that his inhereted human nature had to be replaced by a new and right spirit, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” (Psalm 51:10-12). That right Spirit he was talking about is the Holy Spirit of God.
The Holy Spirit is the very essence, mind and divine nature of God. That nature of God is good, “Oh how great is thy goodness,” (Psalm 31:19). It is eternal, “…the goodness of God endureth continually.” (Psalm 52:1). And that same divine nature is in His son Jesus Christ, “…he that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). They are both holy and are comprised of spirit - they are Holy Spirit!
The spirit in man is different to the Spirit in God, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” (I Corinthians 2:11). Without God’s nature we are reprobates, “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?” (II Corinthians 13:5). Reprobate means it has been rejected. In other words human nature in its corrupt form is simply not acceptable to God. It must be transformed, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2).
The only way we can escape eternal death is if we are transformed by receiving God’s Spirit and taking on His divine nature in place of our own corrupted human nature. When we are called to be reconciled to God through faith and repentance we can receive His Spirit, “Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 3:28 NKJV).
Giving us the Holy Spirit can be likened to giving us His own spiritual DNA which contains His very character traits that can grow to fruition within us,“…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23). Also, “For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;” (Ephesians 5:9). As those traits grow to fruition we become like His son, “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:13). And God will also be our Father, “…I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (II Corinthians 6:17-18). It means we have received His divine nature which is incorruptible and everlasting.
This does not make us immediately incorruptible and eternal like God. It is a process that takes time. We still have to contend with human nature until we are resurrected to spirit and our old nature is shed for evermore, “…put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24).
Adding to Faith
The transformation begins by believing God. Having fallen from God’s grace through lack of faith, the only way to be reconciled with Him is through faith. Believing what God says we must then go on to add to that faith by exercising the very traits we receive through His Spirit to bring them to fruition, “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. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.” (II Peter 1:3-12).
The goal is to eventually come to the fullness of the stature of Christ, “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:13).
As the fruits of God’s Spirit begin to mature within us we must continually examine ourselves to ensure the effort we are making is producing results. This is especially important as we prepare to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” (I Corinthians 11:28-32).
There are a number of passages that can be used as a guide to examine yourself. For example: Exodus 20:1-17, Matthew 5:3-16, Psalm 15:1-5, Mark 7:21-23, Romans 12:1-3, 9-21, I Corinthians 13:4-7, Galatians 5:19-26, Colossians 3:5-25, II Timothy 3:1-5 and finally Psalm 51:1-19.
From these few passages it is easy for us to draw up profiles for good and evil. The good profile representing God’s divine nature and the evil profile being that of Satan’s nature. Human nature is a mixture of both good and evil. When we receive God’s Spirit we receive all the elements of the good profile to which we can be transformed through repentance and by prayerfully putting them into practice.
Before we come before God to observe the memorial of Christ’s death we need to honestly examine ourselves against these two profiles to ascertain our current status and to identify the areas where we still need to change. Self examination can be a very sobering and painful experience that often requires some heartfelt repentance. It is important that we do examine ourselves so that we do not come before God on this very special occasion in an unworthy manner. If we honestly and diligently judge ourselves then there will be no need for us to be judged.
Why do we need to do this? Because we love God and desire above all things to be like Him. We want to think and act like He does. We want to cast off our own evil ways and be transformed to His ways, to honour and glorify Him in our lives, because He is good! He is perfect in every way, magnificent, almighty and powerful. He is the epitome of love!