“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test.”
–2 Corinthians 13:5
As stated previously, the epistle (a book of the New Testament in the form of a letter from an Apostle) of John, specifically 1 John, is a self-examination. John was probably in Ephesus when he wrote this letter near the end of the 1st century. It was a circular letter in that it was to be circulated among the then existing churches that Paul had established in places like Ephesus, Thessalonica, Philippi, etc. His purpose was to confront the false teaching that had crept into the church and to give believers assurance of salvation, so they would have joy. How can one have joy if he or she is not sure of their personal salvation? Thus, in 1 John 5:13 one reads, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” There should be no doubt when it comes to your eternal destination and home.
The whole purpose of this devotional series is to give you the same opportunity to examine your faith to make sure that it is genuine, saving, biblical faith. Once you have this assurance you should experience incredible joy and peace. Thus far, we have considered the fellowship test, the sin test, the obedience test, the love test, and the hatred test. Now we will take the truth test.
The truth test is an extremely important test. It determines one’s ability to discern truth from error. Given the world in which we live, passing this test has never been more important. Consider 1 John 2:20, 4:6-7, and 5:20…
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.
We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
Question: Can you discern truth from error when it comes to the preaching and teaching you hear coming from the pulpit? And believe me, there is a lot of error. Much of what is preached today in mainline denominations is counterfeit. You may be shocked at this statement and you may even disagree. But, please hear me out. An important principle when it comes to anything that is counterfeit, such as money, is this: the better the counterfeit, the more it appears like the real thing. False teaching often appears to be true because it is so close to the truth. However, when it comes to one’s eternal salvation, don’t you want to know that what you are hearing is totally true? If a sailor is off just a few degrees, the further he travels, the more off course he becomes. It is the same with false teaching. The longer one listens to teaching that is off just a few degrees, the further one distances himself from the truth.
Back to my original question – can you discern truth from error? The only way this is possible is by the indwelling Holy Spirit. That is why the fellowship test is the first and most important test question. Are you truly indwelt by the Holy Spirit? Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:14-16, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man (the man indwelt by the Holy Spirit) makes judgments about all things… ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” When a person who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit reads God’s Word, he actually takes on the mind of God. The Bible, in essence, is the mind of God! The more time you spend reading God’s Word, the more you begin to think like God, and the more you are able to discern truth from error.
All of these tests are important; however, given the truth claims that so many are making in our culture and society, the more we need discerning minds. I hope and pray you pass this test because your eternal destiny is at stake.