Every six months or so, I need to go to the dentist to have a check-up, to see if my teeth are fine or any remedial work needs to be carried out. Some people need to go regularly to the doctor’s surgery for a medical check-up. Believers should be carrying out spiritual self-checks regularly.
The morning is a good time to seek the Lord and his counsel and support, and ask for opportunities to enjoy and glorify him in the day. The evening is the ideal time to review the day, assess events, give thanks and ask for forgiveness (Psalms 5:1-3; 6:6-7; 119:55, 62).
There are, however, specific times in our lives when a thorough evaluation of our walk with the Lord is needed — special times for prayer and self-examination. There are numerous passages in Scripture which call us to examine ourselves and our standing before God (e.g. Lamentations 3:40; 1 Corinthians 11:28-32; 2 Corinthians 13:5).
The apostle John’s first epistle is particularly helpful in this matter: ‘These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God’ (1 John 5:13). Some questions to ask ourselves, based on that letter, will be helpful. They can be placed under four headings.
Attitude to sin
Do you know and have you confessed to the Lord that you are a sinner? Do you know that you have a tendency to sin and that you need to return repeatedly to Christ for forgiveness?
Do you find yourself hating all kinds of evil and making choices in life to avoid temptation? Do you pray to God for strength to fight sin and temptation and seek to live a pure and blameless life day by day?
Are you wary of your own abilities and depend on Christ to help you day by day? Do you cry out for help to him to deliver you from yourself and your earthly desires? Do you pray for those around you that are lost in their sins?
Attitude to the Saviour
Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ more than your possessions and what you have in this world? Do you believe and confess with your lips that Jesus Christ alone is the only way you can be made right with God?
Do you believe and confess with your lips that Jesus is both God and man in one person; that he was physically raised from the dead; that he was sent by God the Father?
Do you believe in Jesus and all that he is? Do you trust only in him to save you from your sins and give you a perfect righteousness before his Father? Do you consider the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, Lord and brother — the one who is altogether lovely?
Do you want to know him more than you did this time last year? Do you love and want to please him more than anything else?
Attitude to the Scriptures
Is God’s Word precious to you? Do you read the Bible regularly? Do you pray that the truths in God’s living Word will be increasingly real to you each day and over the coming weeks and months?
Do you understand more about God and his amazing love than you did a year ago? Do you love his Word? Do you memorise it, so that you won’t sin and so you can think about and enjoy him more?
Are the commands of the Bible precious to you? Do you sometimes find his Word difficult, but want to do it to please him anyway? Do you delight to hear what he says in the Bible and seek to do it?
Attitude to the saved
Do you love the company of believers more than unbelievers? Do you care practically for those who love the name of Christ? Do you, in general, pray for your fellow believers more than you pray for yourself and your needs?
Do you forgive Christians you have disagreements with? Do you make sacrifices and give from your resources to help the people of God when they are in need?
Do you pray regularly for those you are related to and come into contact with, that they will be saved? Do you pray that God will save more people, because being saved by God is the most important thing in the world?
Are you growing in love for those around you? Do you make the most of opportunities to help others and share the gospel?
As believers we are to press onwards, seeking the prize of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no place for standing still; we are to keep on.
‘Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God’ (Hebrews 12:1-2).
The author is a member of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Swansea.