"Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves…"
2 Corinthians 13:5
The Amplified Version of the above scripture says: Examine and test and evaluate your own selves, to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it.
Today, we live in a society that blames everybody, and everything, for the way things, or ourselves, turn out. No one wants to take responsibility for his or her lives.
Psychology tells us that there are three kind of determinism's that influence, or have a determining effect on, who we are, where we end up, and what we become. There are certain truths in each of these three determinism factors, but they are not set in stone - particularly if you are born again.
The first of these is called Genetic Determinism: you are what you are and have certain potentials, or limitations, because of your genetic makeup; your genes, or family tree, are passed down through your family lineage and, thus, you are what you are because it runs in your family.
The second determinism is called Psychic Determinism. This is not to be confused with "psychic" as in a "Psychic Hotline" where someone calls up some devilish spirit for guidance in some area of his or her lives. This is to do with your Psyche or the mind (thought patterns) that form the way you think, and react, to life and other things. These can be disabling belief systems that are programmed into our thought-life. For example, one might say, "About the time I get to a place where I think I'm getting some where, something happens to knock me down and I end up in the same rut as always."
The third type of determinism is known as Environmental Determinism, meaning, we are what we are because of our surrounding environment, or the circumstance in which we were born and raised within.
A lot of the world, our family, our past (or our experience within these areas), will label us, and if we're not careful, will start us to believe the labels that life and other people put on us and, thus, succumb to those names/labels.
I would like to submit a fourth determinism. I call it IN CHRISTed Determinism. If you are born again, God declares certain things about you that you need to pay attention to - rather than listen to the 'name-calling' and 'labeling' that is thrown at us from these natural means. We need to start believing and declaring who God says we are; what God says we have; what God says we can do - because we're IN CHRISTed - born-again children of the Living God.
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17 emphasis mine)
One Christian writer said, "Many Christians, though they are sincere, are weak because they have never dared to make a bold confession of Who they are in Christ Jesus."
Sincere Christians, who are sincerely wrong in their thinking, therefore, are wrong in their believing and consequently, wrong in their actions.
One cannot come to a strong belief in something unless that belief is first thought upon, meditated upon, and embraced.
Your belief is a product of your thinking. And your belief of what the born-again experience is will determine WHO you are as a Christian - meaning, Who you say - who you determine - you are, because you are IN Christ Jesus, will determine the "WHO" you become.
Likewise, your belief in the "truthfulness" of the labels that the world would slap on you, can determine the "WHO" you will become in the world.
Proverbs 23:7 talks about mankind: "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he..."
Our thinking controls how we conduct ourselves. Our conduct needs to be examined now and then. We are the custodians of our lives.
The Message Bible translates 2 Corinthians 13:5 as "Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don't drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it."
The mere fact that we are exhorted to examine, or test ourselves, shows us that we COULD be believing wrong information about ourselves and about God. We can be held captive to our thoughts. Paul tells us to "Cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" 2 Corinthians 10:5.
Thoughts are powerful. They create within you pictures of yourself; pictures of the world around us; pictures of how things would go if we continue down a certain path. In other words, thoughts create perceptions of realities we believe to be so, or that will come to pass (example: worry).
Paul tells us to cast down every imagination and every high thing that would attempt to exalt itself against, or go contrary, to the knowledge of God.
The knowledge of God is the Word of God. We are to render those imaginations and thoughts as inaccurate because they are contrary to God's Word.
God's Word is truth even in the light of [natural] evidence to the contrary.
"For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar…" Romans 3:3 & 4.
You are what you receive to be truth; you are what you have been led to believe you are.
Don't like what you see in yourself? Then change your thinking; get it in line with the Word of God - start declaring that what God says about you is in fact, true. You may not feel like it is; you may not see any evidence whatsoever of those things that God declares about you. But you agree with the One Who knows more than you do. Hosea 4:6 says, "How can two walk together, except they agree?" You agree with God and the fruit of your believing starts to work within you and then works out in your actions - your walk of faith.
Author and speaker, John Maxwell, in his book: Thinking For a Change, had these six steps for changes in your life…
1. Changing your thinking
Changes your beliefs.
2. Changing your beliefs
Changes your expectations.
3. Changing your expectations
Changes your attitude.
4. Changing your attitude
Changes your behavior.
5. Changing your behavior
Changes your performance.
6. Changing your performance
Changes your life.
He went on to say, "You make a decision, then the rest of your life, you manage that decision."
All Godly changes must come from the "Owner's Handbook" - the Bible. To try to make changes without the power of God is like putting a mule in the Kentucky Derby, combing its hair, polishing its teeth, and expect the mule will win the race. It won't be done. Reason why - because of the mule's nature. It isn't born a racehorse. It is born a mule and, unless you can change the nature of that mule, it'll perform as a mule, even though you dress it and put it in the Derby.
How is that mule going to win? It must be born-again. Born from a mule to a racehorse. Same with man. To win the race of life, one must be born-again. Born from death unto life. Born from the nature of the first Adam unto the nature of the second Adam.
Then, that NEW man can be trained to function/act as it is designed, or meant to. Utilizing those six steps above, is the process of the training. We start to think what the 'new-creation' is said to be from Father's Word. That kind of thinking gets us to question our current beliefs about who we are, and, by embracing those [new - Godly] thoughts, we change our belief system to a higher level (God's).
Within that process, we evaluate and judge ourselves as to our progress. Too many times, we have heard (and seen) people examining every body else except their selves.
True humility is to receive as truth what God says about us; what God says about the situation; what God says we have and what we can do.
To say contrary is to exalt our thoughts above God's thoughts; our beliefs above the truths of God's Word.
Years ago, I heard this prophecy and have kept it. Every now and then, I will bring it out and re-read it because I see areas in my life that is not up to His standard. I would get depressed and want to "throw in the hat" so-to-speak, condemning myself in the area under examination.
I trust that it will bring comfort and assurance to you in your journey as it has me…
Derek Prince, 1977, Kansas City:
There are two things, the actual and the ideal.
To be mature is to see the ideal and live with the actual.
To fail is to accept the actual and reject the ideal,
and to accept only that which is ideal,
and refuse the actual is to be immature.
Do not criticize the actual because you have seen the ideal.
Do not reject the ideal because you see the actual.
Maturity is to live with the actual but hold on to the ideal.
I see myself (the actual) and judge it against the ideal. In areas where I missed it, I would ask forgiveness and go on knowing that I come up short in an area that I need to work on. With His help, I know I can and will improve… then just as I believe I arrive, I see that I can improve even more. He knows my shortcomings and understands my maturity level - but, He doesn't just leave me there… He helps me to continue growing in the knowledge of righteousness.
Condemnation is not of God… conviction, is. There is a difference and we need to learn that difference.