Test Yourself

Test Yourself

This summer we learned about who we are and who we are to become in Christ. Jesus is our example, our identification, our life, so we need to quit living for ourselves. Next, we learned it is easy to be deceived by teachers, our flesh, the world, and the devil into believing we can sin as long as we give mental assent to the Word of God. It is important to know and live by the Truth, for there are eternal consequences for what we choose to believe and do. Therefore, God desires that we repent and live by His Word and His Spirit.

Romans 2:4-11 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.

As you can see, there are only two groups of people in God’s eyes, those in Christ who obey, and those who don’t obey. We are not good judges as to which group someone belongs, but Jesus will separate us on Judgment Day. Until then, today is the day of salvation. Are you saved? Don’t answer too quickly, for the Truth is vital to your eternal destination.

2 Corinthians 13:5 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 indeed you fail to meet the test!

Is Jesus Christ in you?  God is a three-part being. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one. “Jesus Christ in you” is the Holy Spirit, who Jesus sent to be in us after His Ascension. The test of salvation is whether or not the Holy Spirit is in you and you are living according to Him.

Ephesians 1:13-14 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

The Holy Spirit is our guarantee of salvation and eternity in Heaven. Therefore, is the Holy Spirit in you? This is a vital question. You need to know the answer.

Romans 8:5-14 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

These Scriptures state that the Christian life is more than just mental assent in Jesus and coming to church. The Christian life is about having God, the Holy Spirit, in you. This is an issue of salvation, for it says, “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

So, how can you know if the Holy Spirit is in you? You can test yourself. According to Scripture, there are at least seven tests to discern if the Holy Spirit is in you.

The first is the carbon copy test. It asks the question, “Are you becoming more and more like Jesus, in your thoughts, in your words, in your actions, and in your relationships?”

Colossians 3:9-10 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

We become more like Jesus as the Holy Spirit renews our minds and changes our “stinking thinking”. But He also transforms our hearts until our sole desire becomes pleasing God instead of ourselves. So compare yourself to Jesus and give yourself a grade. Is the Holy Spirit conforming you to Jesus, your creator?

The second is the GPS test. A GPS, or global positioning system, can guide you along the highways to your destination. Likewise, the Holy Spirit is our guide in life.

John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

Too often, we only turn to God in moments of great crisis. It’s then that we fall on our knees and cry out to God to intervene and guide us. But after things settle down, we go back to taking charge of our lives. That is not how a disciple of Jesus acts and lives. The Holy Spirit guides disciples continually, in the big decisions and also in their daily decisions as well. So how often do you allow the Holy Spirit to guide your life? Give yourself a grade.

The third test is the butterfly test. It asks, “Are you growing and transforming in your faith?” A butterfly begins life as a caterpillar. This is the feeding and growth stage. As it grows, it sheds its skin four or more times. Then it builds a chrysalis or cocoon, within which the caterpillar transforms. When it emerges, the transformation is complete. It has become a butterfly.

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Christians have a growth and transformation stage called sanctification. It’s the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us as we repent, identify with Jesus, and do His will in every aspect of our life. How would you rate your transformation process? Do you repent daily and live for Jesus?

The fourth test is the Peter test. This test asks, “How bold are you in sharing the Good News of Jesus with others?”

Acts 4:32 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Peter was hiding for his life until the Holy Spirit came upon Him and gave Him boldness to proclaim the Good News of Jesus. He was not alone. All the disciples, filled with the Holy Spirit, were changed from men in fear of their lives to men who boldly proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus.  Every one of them had come from doubt to determination, from confusion to conviction, from fear to faith.

Fortunately, the Holy Spirit also gives us boldness in witnessing for Jesus in our society. In the face of growing religious and political forces in our society that are hostile to the Christian faith, we need the boldness from the Holy Spirit to witness about Jesus - fearlessly, unashamedly, and uncompromisingly with love and gentleness! Without the Holy Spirit, fear will grip us and keep us quiet about our faith in Jesus!

2 Timothy 1:6-7 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

So test yourself. Are you inspired by the Holy Spirit to share your faith with others?

The fifth test is the produce test. It asks, “What fruit are you producing? Is the fruit of the Spirit evident in your life?”

Galatians 5:22-24 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 

This crucifixion of the flesh is repentance and death to self. This allows the Holy Spirit to produce His fruit in us. Crucifying our passions and desires can be a “painful” struggle. The “pain” comes from God pruning the sin in our life so we will produce more fruit of the Spirit.

John 15:1-5 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

Fruit is not just about what you do, it is also about who you are becoming. Spirit-filled Christians crucify their flesh daily and ask God to provide His Spirit to enable them to produce His fruit. How well does the fruit of the Spirit describe you?

Test #6 is the agape test. The Greek word agape is used to describe God’s love. Agape means a self-sacrificing love on behalf of another. This test asks, “How are you loving others? How do you speak to people? How do you treat others? How are you sacrificing for others?”

Agape love is what defines us as Christians. We do not love as the world loves; instead, we love as we have been loved through Jesus Christ.

Jesus said in John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

It’s easy to love people like us, but what about those who are different; what about those of a different political persuasion; what about those who are openly living in sin. Love is more than acknowledging them and saying, “Hello.” Love is wanting and working for what’s best for them, not necessarily in their eyes, but in God’s eyes.

Agape love is described in more detail in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

That is what love looks like when you are filled with the Holy Spirit. Does this definition of love describe you? Give yourself a grade.

Test #7 is the voice recognition test. This test asks, “Can you differentiate the Holy Spirit from all of the other voices of the world?”

John 10:1-5 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”

Have you ever been to a public pool? It is a very noisy place. Kids are screaming, playing, and splashing in the pool, the lifeguard whistles are blowing, and mothers are visiting. Yet, in the midst of their conversation, a mother will say, “Listen!”

In spite of the noise, she heard her daughter screaming. Then she says, “OK, everything’s alright. That’s a happy scream.”

Over all of the other voices, that mother not only recognized her child’s voice but was able to identify what type of scream it was. Why? Because every day she listens to her child, and in the process, she learned the sound of her daughter’s voice.

That’s what it takes for us to we learn the sound of the Holy Spirit’s voice. This is why it’s so important to spend time daily reading the Bible and in prayer. But prayer is not you telling God what you want, prayer is listening to what God wants. Sometimes we are in such a hurry, we hastily read a Scripture and say a quick prayer, never giving God an opportunity to speak to us. If we would just spend more time listening to God, then we would learn to hear that still small voice of the Holy Spirit over all the noise of the world. So, do you hear the Holy Spirit speak? How well do you recognize His voice and respond? Give yourself a grade.

So, how did you do on the 7 tests? Bottom-line, if the Holy Spirit is living inside of us, there’s going to be evidence. The stress of trials and life exposes the evidence. If you squeeze a grape, you’re going to get grape juice. If you squeeze an apple, you’re going to get apple juice.

Whatever is inside us is eventually going to come out. If the Holy Spirit is absent, the fruit of the flesh will come out. And if the Holy Spirit is in us, the fruit of the Spirit will come out. Therefore, when you get “squeezed”, what comes out? Don’t ignore it. God is revealing the Truth of what is in your heart. Confess it and repent. Be filled with the Holy Spirit.

So how can you be filled with the Spirit? First, you must sincerely desire for God to fill you with Himself, which really means, you must want God to totally have His way in your life.

Proverbs 8:17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.

Therefore, die daily to your selfish fleshly desires, present every area of your life to God, and seek the Holy Spirit with all your heart.

Second, confess to God any known sin in your life. 1 John 1:8-9 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

That sin may very well be things that we have put ahead of God. Too often, what we try to do is add God in our lives and never really repent or make any changes in our life. We hold onto all of the same priorities, goals, and desires of our lives, and just add God into the mix. We want God to be next to all of our stuff, but we never want Him to supersede our stuff. That won’t work. When I’m filled with the Holy Spirit, there’s no room for my stuff. When the Spirit moves in, my stuff has to move out. So do you want the Holy Spirit more than all your stuff? If so, repent.

Third, ask God to fill you with His Spirit. After all, it is God’s will for you to be filled with His Spirit.

Luke 11:13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

A man, immigrating to the United States, barely had enough money to buy a ticket on a ship. With what little he had left over, he bought some cheese and crackers to eat every day, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the journey. While he ate his cheese and crackers, everybody else was in the ship's dining hall. He could smell the aroma of lobster, filet mignon, and other delicious food. Finally, on the 6th day of the journey, he went to the captain and said, "I'll do anything you want. I'll do the dishes, clean the bathrooms, sweep the floors, anything to have one meal in the dining room." Looking perplexed, the captain said to him, "But sir, the meals are included with the ticket."

Many Christians have settled for “cheese and cracker” lives without really knowing it. God does not just forgive our sins, adopt us into his family, give us the Great Commission and say “good luck”. God wants to give us Himself, the Holy Spirit, to provide joy, peace, love, wisdom, guidance, boldness, commitment, and strength. So stop living a “cheese and cracker” life of religion and live the life that God intends you to live by asking, receiving, and being filled with His Spirit daily. It comes with the “ticket” of being in Jesus Christ.

Maybe you don’t have a “ticket”. It is free, but it will cost you your life. You qualify for one by believing Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died on the cross to atone for your sin and rose again to give you eternal life. You receive that “ticket” by repenting of your sin and publicly confessing Jesus as your Savior and Lord. That means you give your life to Jesus by obeying Him and not your own desires any longer. Your first act of faith and obedience is to die to yourself in water baptism. Then your “ticket” gets stamped as you are raised to live a new life, born of the Holy Spirit, who will lead you, empower you, and transform you into the image of Jesus.

 

  December 2017  
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