Examine Yourself

On Sunday evening, April 4, 2004, baptized members of the Church of God will partake of the New Testament Passover symbols of bread and wine, thereby following the Godly command to do so once a year. They will reflect and meditate on God’s great purpose in sending His only-begotten Son to die for us, so that we can have everlasting life (John 3:16-17). In addition, they will deeply appreciate the fact that Christ also suffered for us to make possible Godly healing of our physical sicknesses and injuries (Isaiah 53:4-5; Matthew 8:16-17).

If we are in the spiritual body of Christ, we are commanded to partake of the Passover symbols. At the same time, we are told by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:28, to “examine” ourselves, before we eat of the bread and drink of the cup. This self-examination is important, so that we do not partake of the Passover in an unworthy manner (vv. 27, 29). However, the purpose of our self-examination is not to become so depressed that we refuse to take the Passover. Rather, we are to examine ourselves and to “eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”

Paul’s admonition is not to be understood in a negative way. The Greek word for “examine,” “dokimazo,” is exclusively used in the New Testament Scriptures in a positive manner. Let us notice all the passages where the word is used:

In Luke 14:19, a person bought oxen, and AFTER he had bought them [not before], he went out to test or “examine” them. In Romans 12:2, Paul encourages us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we may prove or test or “examine” what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Again, we see the positive purpose of this kind of examination.

Further, 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells you to “examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test [Greek, “dokimazo”] yourselves. Do you not know yourselves THAT Jesus Christ is in you?” Paul took it for granted that Christ was living in them, but he encouraged them to individually reconfirm and reestablish this knowledge.

Galatians 6:4 admonishes each and every one of us to “examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself.” Again, this examination should lead to joy, not sorrow. Another passage in this context is Ephesians 5:8-10: “For you were ONCE darkness, but now you ARE light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out [in Greek, “dokimazo”] what is acceptable to the Lord.” Paul is saying here that we are already light. We CAN therefore find out what is acceptable in God’s sight. Again, this examination should lead to an increase of the right kind of Godly understanding.

Philippians 1:9-10 adds: “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve [Greek, “dokimazo”] the things that are excellent.” Again, we find the positive nature of such approval or examination.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:4, the Greek word “dokimazo” is used twice: “But as we have been approved [Greek, “dokimazo”] by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests [Greek, “dokimazo”] our hearts.” God has already examined or approved us, but God continues to test or “examine” us — not, so that we fail, but so that we overcome even more.

Finally, let us notice 1 Peter 1:6-7:”In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested [Greek, “dokimazo”] by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Again, the testing or “examination” of our faith is not for the purpose of failing, but so that the genuineness of our faith becomes even more manifest and evident.

Paul was not discouraging us from taking the Passover. Rather, our examination should establish that we ARE on the right track — that Christ DOES live in us. And, if we find, during our self-examination, that we are lacking something, we need to repent of that, ask God for forgiveness, and resolve to do better next time, with the help and lead of Christ in us.

We are to examine ourselves, as to how we are doing, before we take the Passover. We need to take it in a worthy manner. We need to understand and appreciate what the sacrifice of Christ means for us. We must be willing to live our lives worthy of God and of our calling.

At the same time, none of us have lived perfectly since the last Passover. We all sin; we all have sinned; and we all have continuous need of God’s forgiveness. That is why we partake of the Passover annually — as an annual reminder that we NEED the sacrifice of Christ. And so, as Christ’s converted disciples, we can, should and need to partake of the Passover, remembering the inspired words of John, in 1 John 1:7-10:

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins [after we have examined ourselves to see how we are doing], He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”

Let us do then, as we are commanded: “But let a man examine himself, AND SO LET HIM eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Corinthians 11:28).

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