“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 you fail to meet the test” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
The Corinthian church was a challenging one for the apostle Paul.
Some in the Corinthian church mistook his teaching about grace to mean sin didn’t matter since God’s grace is greater. But, Paul’s teaching never meant for the Christians in Corinth- or for us-to live in perpetual doubt of our salvation. Just the opposite. He wanted them, and us, to grasp the truth about salvation—that Jesus fully atoned for sin on the cross. If we (or they) take credit for even a portion of our salvation, it will leave us empty and doubting faith. Paul knew God’s grace is greater, and that sin always matters to God. Paul was very direct about this in his teaching. So direct, it ultimately cost him his life.
Paul knew the implications of the gospel in a person’s life were to be lived out, and he didn’t want those he loved and to whom he ministered to have a false assurance of salvation. This false sense of salvation by some in the church at Corinth had caused them to slip back into the sinful tendencies they followed before their conversion.
Today, many of us harbor a similar mindset as the Christians at Corinth. We fear the consequences of calling sin what it is because of what it may cost us.
When we notice a pattern in the life of a friend, coworker, loved one, or fellow church member that is contrary to God’s will, our first thought might be, “Who am I to judge”? Possibly the verse that says, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1) comes to mind. If it does, I would ask you to consider Matthew 7:1 in context. The verse is about having an overly harsh and judgmental attitude toward a person. And while it is not our role to pronounce someone else guilty before God, that doesn’t mean we forgo appropriate discernment that recognizes sin and distinguishes between belief and unbelief.
We are sometimes so busy not “judging” that we fail to properly teach the true meaning of grace. The Bible tells us that through grace we walk by the Spirit so not to gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). It tells us to be diligent to make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10).
Grace abounds more than sin, in fact, grace overwhelms it. Those who have been overwhelmed by grace and redeemed by the Savior live with a desire to please Him. Has grace overwhelmed you?
Are you in the faith?